Tag: 2020-08-nn-norcal

In memoriam, Brian Mattson, 84

In memoriam, Brian Mattson, 84

Brian Mattson passed away of a heart attack on July 18, while working in the garden at his home in Novato. He was 84.

Bay Area planners may remember him as the Planning Director in Novato until 1984 and then Community Development Director in Vallejo where he retired a few years later.

“He was a proponent of good planning principles in the face of development pressure from strong real estate interests,” recalled Hanson Hom, AICP, who worked under Mattson in Vallejo. “He had a passion for creating equitable communities and better environments, which he balanced with a sense of humor. And he reinforced strong planning values and the importance of ethics in our profession. Those, along with a conviction to do what’s right, shaped me over the course of my entire career.”

During his time as planning director in Novato, Mattson was active in the Bay Area Planning Directors Association, and was a member of the Sonoma State University Advisory Committee that advised on the school’s planning curriculum.

“Brian was my first boss as I started my profession as a city planner in Novato,” recalled Diane Henderson of San Rafael. He hated being called ‘boss,’ and he led by example. He taught “kindness, courtesy, and professionalism as he guided Novato’s development during challenging political years. He always was willing to go the extra mile to do the right thing,” she said.

Brian Wayne Mattson was born December 25, 1935, in Watersmeet, an unincorporated community located within the Ottawa National Forest in the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, some 45 miles south of Lake Superior. After graduating from Michigan State University (East Lansing) with a degree in landscape architecture, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from California State University-Hayward. Over the course of a 40-year career in public service, he was planning director for Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Spokane and Yakima, Washington; Klamath Falls, Oregon; and Novato and Vallejo, California.

Mattson was known for humble leadership and the ability to navigate political issues during challenging times for urban growth. He took pride in mentoring planners and advising on ethical and professional dilemmas.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Evelyn Mattson; his sister, Nancy Severtson; and four children: Greg Mattson (also a planner), Tammy Dunn, Andrea Doney, and Sandra Schondel-Mattson, and eight grandchildren.

Return to the September issue here.

Who’s where

Who’s where


Mayank Patel is now the Associate Planner for the City of Newark, where he’ll be focusing on current planning and contributing to long-range planning efforts such as the City’s Old Town Newark Specific Plan and NewPark Place Specific Plan. Patel had been the senior planner for the City of Orinda, where he worked on the Downtown Precise Plan. Before entering the world of municipal plan­ning in 2015, he was an urban designer at PlaceWorks. He holds a master of urban and regional planning from UC Irvine and a BS in landscape architecture from UC Davis. 

Sarah Yuwiler is now the Asso­ciate Plan­ner for the City of Brentwood. She pre­viously was an assis­tant planner for the City of Concord. Yuwiler holds a BA in environ­mental studies and plan­ning from Sonoma State University. She currently resides in Pittsburg.  

Return to the September issue here.

Alameda County Heat Vulnerability Map

Alameda County Heat Vulnerability Map

By the Alameda County Office of Sus­tain­abil­ity, August 19, 2020

Hello, planners! Alameda County has launched an interactive map to illustrate the social and environ­mental factors that contribute to community heat vul­ner­abil­ity in our county.

The map shows the neighborhoods and demographic groups disproportionately affected by heat waves. We hope this map will be useful to city planners, county agencies, and neighborhood and community organizations in Alameda County to support their efforts to assess and respond to the impacts of extreme heat. For those in other counties, the model may be useful to you.

The map is best viewed on a computer. It can take a minute for the map to initialize.

For this ArcGIS storymap, you’ll navigate through tabs which show (1) an overall heat vulnerability index, (2) built environment data, (3) demographic data, (4) health data, and (5) project background and additional resources.

For most tabs, descriptive text at the left of the map includes yellow links that you click to populate the map. (If on a mobile device, click on the “i” at the top right to see text.) For example, under the Health tab, click the yellow links to see map layers including the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and exposure to poor air quality.

For questions regarding the Heat Vulnerability Map, please contact the Alameda County Office of Sustainability here.

Return to the September issue here.

Director’s note

Director’s note

By Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, August 19, 2020

Stronger together …from afar

I started as Section Director half a year ago in what feels like a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent world. I saw 2020 as a year of vision and clarity. Now, looking back at my first Director’s Note, I can’t help but reflect on where this year has taken us so far. While not at all how I imagined it, this has been a year for re-eval­uat­ing prior­ities, val­ues, and fu­ture di­rec­tions.

Back then, my chal­lenge to every­one, in­clud­ing myself, was to commit to being a little terrified every day, which is what I was challenged to do on my first day at Facebook three-and-a-half years ago. I certainly am meeting that commitment, and I expect you are too, as we deal with ever-changing information on safety, a supply chain that struggles to meet the demand for essentials, and a jarring shift in the way we work, learn, and interact with others.

While we live in a time where hugs, handshakes, and being less than six feet apart from anyone not in our social bubble or “qauranteam” (especially without a mask) is temporarily a thing of the past, we’re fortunate to have the technology to stay connected while not physically close. We can hold a little device to see and talk to anyone nearly everywhere. We have social media to keep up with each other and to share in some of life’s moments. And we hold public meetings in new ways that we hope will broaden and increase participation.

We’re also at a point where we can’t ignore the injustices in our society and our role as planners to move us toward a more equitable and inclusive society. We still have a lot to learn and even more work to do, but we can and we must.

And even though we’re physically apart, we’re stronger together now because of our resilient nature and collective efforts, even if imperfect. It hasn’t been easy, but we are thriving even as we learn valuable lessons.

What lessons have you learned that you will share with others? How will you take the information about the new realities and turn it into action?

The APA California Conference is virtual and nearly here

Schools are starting to open — well, at least laptops are starting to open with students and teachers connected virtually — and it’s the beginning of conference season. In case you haven’t already heard, the APA California Conference will be virtual this year for the first time ever.

I was really looking forward to seeing Riverside and learning about the great things happening there. Instead, I’m looking forward to reconnecting virtually with my planning colleagues, learning about best practices around the state, and conversing about major issues, including housing, transportation, racism and bias in planning, and new ways of planning for the future — all without having to book a hotel, arrange for travel, or even leave the kitchen.

Find out more about the conference and register here. I hope to “see” you there!

Return to the September issue here.

Affordable housing in Silicon Valley puts focus on sustainability
Edwina Benner Plaza, Sunnyvale. Credit: Bruce Damonte

Affordable housing in Silicon Valley puts focus on sustainability

From HUD User, PD&R Edge, August 3, 2020

Named in honor of the first woman to serve as mayor of a California town, the development adds 66 units of affordable housing in Sunnyvale. Credit: Keith Baker

Edwina Benner Plaza in Sunnyvale is providing much-needed affordable housing while advancing sustainability-minded design. A combination of on and offsite renewable energy sources are meeting all of the building’s electricity needs and work with other design elements to achieve net-zero operating emissions. Edwina Benner Plaza is also notable for its efforts to address another urgent issue in California: housing for individuals and families with a history of, or at risk for experiencing, homelessness. (Endnote 1)

Bringing affordability to the heart of the Technology Sector

Developed by MidPen Housing, the project consists of 30 one-bedroom, 18 two-bedroom, and 18 three-bedroom apartments, plus amenities such as a community room with kitchen, computer lab, fitness center, children’s playground, and secured bike parking. Funding for the $44 million development came primarily from equity generated from the sale of 9 percent low-income housing tax credits. Additional funding sources included the city of Sunnyvale; Santa Clara County, where Sunnyvale is located; and HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program. To qualify, residents must earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income, and preference for most of the units is given to people living or working in Sunnyvale. Property income funds programming onsite — such as youth afterschool and summer programs, financial literacy courses, vocational training, health and wellness programs, computer assistance, and help accessing other local resources and services — that is available to all residents. (Endnote 2)

In addition to providing affordable workforce housing, Edwina Benner Plaza is helping to address homelessness in the heart of Silicon Valley. The area’s high cost of housing has been an ongoing and severe challenge, and decreases in housing affordability correlate with an increased risk of homelessness. This finding is borne out in Santa Clara County, where, at the time Edwina Benner Plaza opened, an estimated 7,500 men, women, and children experienced homelessness on any given night. The development, supported by project-based vouchers, reserves 13 units for formerly homeless households referred by the county’s Office of Supportive Housing and 10 units for families at risk of homelessness. Peninsula Healthcare Connection provides additional supportive services and case management for formerly homeless residents. (Endnote 3)

Edwina Benner Plaza is the second MidPen Housing project in Sunnyvale to target residents who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. (The developer opened the nearby Onizuka Crossing Apartments in 2016. Half of the 58 units there are reserved for formerly homeless individuals.)

Advancing Green Building

Sustainability played a major role in the design, including the landscaping and the photovoltaic panels that provide half of the building’s electricity needs. Credit: Bruce Damonte

Solar rooftop panels generate approximately 50 percent of Edwina Benner Plaza’s electricity requirements. Community-based provider Silicon Valley Clean Energy supplies the remaining 50 percent from renewable sources. These efforts, combined with the development’s electric, rather than gas-powered, hot water heater — and a high-efficiency heat pump for cooling — mean the development produces zero operating emissions, earning it Platinum certification under the GreenPoint Rated system. According to Matthew Lewis, senior project manager at MidPen Housing, the value realized through energy efficiency is passed on to residents, albeit indirectly, in the form of increased funding for onsite services.

Edwina Benner Plaza residents also receive free Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority passes to encourage them to use more sustainable transportation options. And the landscape uses native plants and includes a stormwater planter to help control storm runoff. (Endnote 4)

Project designer David Baker Architects sought to ensure that the development would support not only the well-being of the environment but also the well-being of residents. As an aid, the development’s layout pushes service and storage spaces toward the side of the building fronting a highway. This arrangement shields the living spaces of the building from noise, enhancing the enjoyment and use of private balconies and the shared outdoor space. To further enhance the appeal of being active in the building’s courtyard play area, landscape architect Fletcher Studio used bold colors and patterns to make the confined space feel more expansive and create visual dynamism. (Endnote 5)

Bold colors help activate the shared courtyard space, encouraging active use of the communal amenities. Credit: Bruce Damonte

Edwina Benner Plaza’s name honors the first woman to serve as mayor of a California town. During her 28 years on the Sunnyvale City Council, Edwina Benner, who began her working life in a cannery, held the mayoral office twice, from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1938 to 1940. Nearly a century later, her life and impact are being honored through a series of memorial plaques donated by the Sunnyvale Historical Society. Mr. Lewis reports that the success of Edwina Benner Plaza demonstrates to other developers the feasibility of all-electric affordable housing projects. It also is influencing MidPen Housing’s ongoing and planned projects.

Endnote 1: California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. n.d. “2018 & 2019 Sustainable Building Method and Minimum Construction Standards for Energy Efficiency.” Accessed 17 June 2020; Correspondence with Matthew Lewis, senior project manager, MidPen Housing. 11 June 2020; MidPen Housing. n.d. “Affordable All-Electric Workforce Housing Opens in Sunnyvale near Jobs and Transit.” Accessed 17 June 2020; City of Sunnyvale. 2017. “Approve Loan and Regulatory Agreements with MP Edwina Benner Associates, LP for a Loan of $7.43 Million in Housing Mitigation Funds and a Loan of $600,000 in HOME Funds for Edwina Benner Plaza Affordable Housing Development at 460 Persian Drive,” 28 February. Accessed 17 June 2020; San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association. 2020. “What It Will Really Take to Create an Affordable Bay Area.” Accessed 18 June 2020.
Endnote 2: MidPen Housing. n.d. “Affordable All-Electric Workforce Housing Opens in Sunnyvale near Jobs and Transit.” Accessed 17 June 2020; Correspondence with Matthew Lewis, senior project manager, MidPen Housing, 11 June 2020; County of Santa Clara. n.d. “About the County.” Accessed 17 June 2020; City of Sunnyvale. 2017. “Approve Loan and Regulatory Agreements with MP Edwina Benner Associates, LP for a Loan of $7.43 Million in Housing Mitigation Funds and a Loan of $600,000 in HOME Funds for Edwina Benner Plaza Affordable Housing Development at 460 Persian Drive,” 28 February. Accessed 17 June 2020.
Endnote 3: City of Sunnyvale. 2014. “Housing Element of the General Plan, January 31, 2015 – January 31, 2023.” Accessed 17 June 2020; United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. 2019. “The Importance of Housing Affordability and Stability for Preventing and Ending Homelessness.” Accessed 17 June 2020; MidPen Housing. n.d. “Affordable All-Electric Workforce Housing Opens in Sunnyvale near Jobs and Transit.” Accessed 17 June 2020; City of Sunnyvale. 2017. “Approve Loan and Regulatory Agreements with MP Edwina Benner Associates, LP for a Loan of $7.43 Million in Housing Mitigation Funds and a Loan of $600,000 in HOME Funds for Edwina Benner Plaza Affordable Housing Development at 460 Persian Drive,” 28 February. Accessed 17 June 2020; County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing. n.d. “Mission Statement.” Accessed 17 June 2020; Victoria Kezra. 2016. “Low-income housing project has grand opening in Sunnyvale.” Mercury News, 13 October. Accessed 17 June 2020.
Endnote 4: Correspondence with Matthew Lewis, 11 June 2020; MidPen Housing. n.d. “Affordable All-Electric Workforce Housing Opens in Sunnyvale near Jobs and Transit.” Accessed 17 June 2020; Fletcher Studio. n.d. “Edwina Benner Plaza: Integrating Play and History.” Accessed 17 June 2020.
Endnote 5: David Baker Architects. n.d. “Edwina Benner Plaza.” Accessed 17 June 2020; Correspondence with Matthew Lewis, 11 June 2020; Fletcher Studio. n.d. “Edwina Benner Plaza: Integrating Play and History.” Accessed 17 June 2020.

Return to the September issue of Northern News here.

San Francisco landlords lose lawsuit

San Francisco landlords lose lawsuit

This article, a version of which was originally published in Next City, is republished with permission

By Jared Brey, Next City, August 7, 2020

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law in June that implemented a permanent ban on evicting tenants for rent payments they miss because of the pandemic, as Next City noted at the time. Soon after, landlords sued the city, saying the law was an unconstitutional taking of their property. But a judge ruled this week that the law “is a ‘permissible exercise’ of the city’s power,” according to a report from the Courthouse News Service. The property owners that filed the suit say they’re trying to protect their rights.

“My clients are fighting for the very principle that when a landlord rents a property, the tenant has to pay rent or the tenant has to move,” Andrew Zacks, an attorney for the landlords, told Courthouse News Service. “That’s the hallmark of what a landlord-tenant relationship is. San Francisco is trying to upend that … Most landlords don’t want to evict and would much rather work something out with tenants, but tenants don’t have an incentive to work anything out.”

Many landlord lawsuits lean on the notion of constitutional “takings,” the idea that a policy deprives property owners of so much value that it violates their basic right to ownership. Landlords sued on those grounds after New York expanded its rent control laws last year, as Next City reported. Eviction moratoriums have sparked property-owner lawsuits in other states as well, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, and Kentucky, according to The Real Deal. And San Francisco’s more permanent policy does not free tenants from having to pay rent back, as the Courthouse News Service noted. But it “takes eviction off the table,” as Supervisor Dean Preston, who sponsored the law, put it, according to the report. Superior Court Judge Charles F. Haines found that it was not an overreach, though the property owners plan to appeal, the report says.

“The ordinance does not compel any uncompensated physical occupation of property or otherwise give rise to a facial taking of property, and as a reasonable exercise of the police power to promote public welfare it does not facially violate the Contracts Clauses of the federal or California constitutions,” Haines wrote in his ruling.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter explor­ing scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more afford­able and more environ­mental­ly sus­tain­able. Subscribe to the twice-weekly Backyard newsletter.

Return to the September issue of Northern News here.

Northern News recognizes our content providers for 2019

Northern News recognizes our content providers for 2019

Each year, we list the names of those who authored articles during the preceding calendar year, along with links to their articles. The editors are grateful to the 27 people listed below for their contributions to the planning profession and to this publication. We also wish to acknowledge Andrea Mardesich, a former associate editor, who scoured last year’s issues to prepare this list. Thank you, Andrea! 

Altshuler, Beth and Will Dominie. Planners4Health Co-sponsors Healthy/Resilient Homes Leadership Program. (April) 

Arce, OzzyGetting downtowns moving with convenient and sustainable access. (Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020) 

Arjona, Andrea, Richard Boggs, Anthony Nachor, Carolyn Neer, and Mindy Nguyen. Diridon to Downtown: Strengthening San Jose through wayfinding. (June) 

Bihan, Rene. Can a sports arena be a mixed-use, multiplex, urban park? (October) 

Brey, Jared, Next City. Nonprofits may soon get first dibs on SF apartment buildings. (May); The students pushing Stanford to build more housing. (July/August); What is CaRLA, and why is it suing California cities? (September) 

Capstone Studio Class of San Jose State University, Fall 2019. A community engagement project: Toward a Vision for the Alum Rock Community of San Jose. (Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020) 

Castañeda, JamesDirector’s Note. (FebruaryMarchAprilMayJuly/AugustSeptember) 

Frudden, Julia, and Andrew Mogensen, AICP. New state law helps kids and communities thrive, while relieving zoning headaches(Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020) 

Gastelum, Jennifer and Charlie Knox, AICP. California launches program to increase housing production. (April) 

Hamid, Afshan, AICP. A disruptive housing technology: The story of Mare Island, a Base reuse, and Factory OS. (April) 

Herzberg, Samuel, AICP. Marking history with the Ohlone-Portolá Heritage Trail project. (April) 

Holub, Tom. Exploring Oakland by bike. (June) 

Kamp, John and James Rojas. Collaborative sensory-based community engagement for a more equitable bike/pedestrian environment. (July/August) 

Kidd, Catarina. Meet a Local Planner. (MarchAprilMayOctoberDec. 2019/Jan. 2020) 

Knox, Naphtali H., FAICPBelow Market Rate in California. (February) 

Lantsberg, Alex, AICP, and Roxana Aslan. Taking the high road to fix California’s broken housing production system. (April) 

Livingstone, John F., AICP. The Food Zone. (April) 

Matarazzo, Steve. My short course on Working with Difficult People. (May) 

Paternoster, Robert, FAICP.  Pro bono planning assistance for California communities. (May) 

Pontarelli, Henry. Reclaiming Downtown for People- Downtown Hayward Specific Plan, Code, and EIR. (October) 

Rubin, VictorPolicyLink. Bay Area Equity Atlas. (July/August) 

Savay, Al, AICP. How much house is too much? Rethinking single family house size. (April) 

Scruggs, Gregory, Next City. Big Tech’s affordable housing push doesn’t let them off the hook. (February) 

Soland, Brian, AICP. An American planner in Canada. (Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020). 

Taecker, Matt, AICP.  From Arterial Roadway to Greenway: New regional infrastructure across Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville. (April) 

Tsou, Sunny. Zoning ordinance adopted to make zoning consistent with General Plan may be rejected by Referendum. (February) 

Tyler, Elizabeth “Libby,” Ph.D., FAICP. Diversity, inclusion, and equity — a focus of NPC 19. (June) 

Return to the September issue here.

Eight from Northern Section pass spring-summer 2020 AICP exam

Eight from Northern Section pass spring-summer 2020 AICP exam

Circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic led our national organization to extend the May 2020 examination for two additional months, through July. Congratulations to the following planners from Northern Section who passed the May-June-July AICP exam!

Phillip Brennan, AICP

Alyson Hunter, AICP

Lauren Ivey, AICP

Juliana Lucchesi, AICP

Erik Lundquist, AICP

Oswaldo Meneses, AICP

Quan Sun, AICP

Lillian VanHua, AICP

If your name should also be on this list, would you please let us know? We’ll run a correction! news@norcalapa.org.

Return to the September issue here.