Tag: 2021-04-nn-roundup

11 women whose work can inspire post-pandemic planning

By Lindsay Neiman, Planning Magazine, Winter 2021

“In (roughly) chronological order, here is a selection of the many inspiring women urbanists:

1. Fannie Barrier Williams (1855 – 1944)

“An educator and activist for racial justice and suffrage, Williams was cofounder of a number of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, and was the first Black woman inducted into the Chicago Woman’s Club, a social reform and philanthropy group. … In the lead-up to the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893, she also fought for and secured Black representation in the program and planning committee.

5. Edith Elmer Wood (1871 – 1945)

“A member of the Regional Planning Association of America and founder of the National Housing Conference, Wood was dedicated to improving public health through quality affordable housing. … From 1933 to 1945, she worked as a consultant for the U.S. Housing Authority to help develop the New Deal’s housing policies.

9. Evelina López Antonetty (1922 – 1984)

“A contemporary of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, [Antonetty] is often left out of historical accounts of the time, despite the local and national impacts of her advocacy leadership, including helping to create one of the first bilingual program in public schools.

11. Arabella Martinez (1937 – )

“In 1967, Martinez founded the Unity Council in Oakland, California, a nonprofit social equity development corporation dedicated to serving people of color and low-income residents in the area. Over the organization’s more than half-century in operation, it has provided community services in at least six languages, created more than 200 affordable senior housing units, and supported over 300 local businesses.”

Read the full article here (~5 min., with photos).

Return to Northern News here.

In some cities, the pandemic’s economic pain may continue for a decade

An analysis projects the San Jose Metro Area to be among the least affected

By Mark Muro and Yang You, Brookings, March 11, 2021

“What will the Covid-19 aftermath mean for regional employment growth and local labor markets?

“[To answer this question], we use a new projection of national industry trends from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate the pandemic’s longer-term impact on states and metropolitan areas through the end of the decade.

“The projections are noteworthy because they represent a plausible effort to forecast factors such as the nation’s increased avoidance of interpersonal contact, firms’ embrace of telework, and expanded demand for information technology (IT) — all amid plenty of ongoing uncertainty.

“Across the entire northern tier of the nation, greater orientation to scientific, information, or manufacturing pursuits and less reliance on leisure, tourism, and retail activity means that city regions there may see relatively narrower employment growth slowdowns in the pandemic’s aftermath. The list of the least-negatively affected metropolitan areas is dominated by “superstar” tech centers (San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Boston), and university towns strong in science and IT (Trenton-Princeton, N.J., Ann Arbor, Mich., Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., Boulder, Colo., and Ithaca, N.Y.) […]



“To be sure, these forecasts (like the BLS forecasts underlying them) in no way propose precise estimates of projected change, and they depend on uncertain assessments of the longer-term impact of a still-evolving health crisis.

“Still, the BLS’ new forecasts — mapped onto places — provide a useful caution. Above all, they underscore the often drawn-out aftereffects of major economic shocks. Even amid optimistic forecasts and encouraging early signs, the complicated reality of recoveries remains the same.”

Read the full article here. (~ 4 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Proposed legislation would give cities fewer excuses for blocking housing

By Josh Stephens, CP&DR, March 8, 2021

“This year’s housing-related bills — which number in the hundreds — focus largely on the nuances of how localities can meet the state’s [RHNA targets].

“The highest profile bills comprise a Senate package designed to ‘empower homeowners who want to help solve the crisis, provides more land-use tools and flexibility to meet the needs of local governments and community partners, and streamlines procedural hurdles.’

“A handful of bills encourage cities to permit housing in areas currently zoned for commercial use.

“The broadest of the bills, SB 6, would require all jurisdictions to allow for residential development in commercially zoned areas; it would include malls and big box stores, many of which are in dire financial straits.

“Arguably the most dramatic changes could come in relatively low-density neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family houses. … SB 9 would [eliminate single-family zoning] statewide, allowing duplexes (paywall) on every parcel currently zoned for only one house. With a focus on social justice, AB 1322 takes aim at specific cities: charter cities in which more than 90% of the city’s residential land is zoned for single-family homes or there is a significant degree of segregation based on race or poverty. It would prohibit those cities from enforcing single-family zoning.

Many other bills focus on aspects of the housing crisis other than zoning. For example, “AB 68 would compel the state to reform its affordable housing programs in response to a damning audit last year finding that the state squandered $2.7 billion in affordable housing funds.”

“Finally, two bills would create ballot measures to indirectly increase production of affordable housing … [including a repeal of] what is often considered a racist component of the California Constitution that currently requires local voter approval for development of affordable housing.”

Read the full article here, including brief synopses of a selection of significant housing bills. (~9 min., paywall)

Return to Northern News here.

Study finds wildfire smoke more harmful to humans than pollution from cars

By Nathan Rott, NPR, March 5, 2021

“Tens of millions of Americans experienced at least a day last year shrouded in wildfire smoke. Entire cities were blanketed, in some cases for weeks, as unprecedented wildfires tore across the Western U.S., causing increases in hospitalizations for respiratory emergencies and concerns about people’s longer-term health.

“[New] research, published in the journal Nature Communications (open access) on [March 5, 2021], paints a worrisome picture for Americans living on a fire-prone continent, especially as climate change amplifies fire risk worldwide.

“ ‘[T]here’s been a lot of work that has shown that the health impacts due to wildfire smoke are on the same order of magnitude, or possibly even greater, than [direct physical costs, such as firefighting and damage to property],’ said study co-author Tom Corringham.

“ ‘A lot of the mitigation for exposure relies on people and households and communities knowing when to avoid smoke exposure,’ said Sheryl Magzamen, an associate professor at Colorado State University who focuses on the health effects of wildfire smoke and was not involved in the study. ‘We don’t have the mechanisms right now to let people understand when they’re being exposed to smoke.’

“Corringham says the new research shows the need to improve air monitoring systems and public health programs. He suggests providing financial aid to at-risk populations and low-income households so they can purchase air filters. And he urges action to minimize global warming.”

Read the full article here. (~3 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Bay Area’s migration is real, but Postal Service data shows California exodus isn’t

By Roland Li, Susie Nielson, San Francisco Chronicle, March 2, 2021

“Despite all the talk of people leaving the Bay Area during the pandemic, only a small fraction of residents have left the state, suggesting that reports of an exodus have been exaggerated, according to a Chronicle analysis of United States Postal Service data.

“Only 3.7 percent of the households and businesses that filed address changes in five Bay Area counties from March to November 2020 left California, a total of 4,264 move-outs, according to the data.

“The migration doesn’t add up to an exodus, said Jeff Bellisario, executive director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a business-backed think tank. But it still represents a significant population shift, pushing apartment rents and future tax revenue down, he said. ‘Some of the data points we’re tracking do imply greater movement than in the past.’

“Housing costs remain a huge disparity between the Bay Area and the rest of the country and are often cited as the main reason to move.

“ ‘We still have a high-quality talent pool,’ Bellisario said. ‘We’ve got great world-class universities. This venture capital ecosystem has not disappeared.’ But the rise of remote work represents a new threat as workers can collect California-level wages while living in far less expensive regions.”

Read the full article here, including breakdowns by Bay Area county where people moved and major out-of-state destinations. (~4 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Petaluma becomes first in the US to ban new gas stations

By Andrew Chamings, SFGate, March 2, 2021

“The ban — after a unanimous city council vote — makes the Sonoma County city the first in the nation to halt the construction of new gas stations.

“The city is also targeting zero emissions by 2030, and encouraging current fossil fuel gas stations to transition to battery and hydrogen cell stations. Existing gas stations will not be allowed to add more pumps, though they can instead add more infrastructure for electric vehicles.

“‘Within Petaluma there are multiple gas stations located within a 5-minute drive of every existing residence,’ the resolution states. ‘Therefore, there are adequate gas stations to serve existing and future internal combustion vehicles to the extent as they continue to exist.’

“Last year California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order banning the sale of new cars with an internal combustion engine starting in 2035.”

Read the full article here. (~2 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Where the ‘15-minute city’ falls short

By Feargus O’Sullivan, Bloomberg CityLab, March 2, 2021

“The idea of a ‘15-minute city,’ in which residents live within a short walk or bike ride of all their daily needs has been embraced by many mayors around the world during the global pandemic as a central planning tenet.

“But there are dangers of applying a model conceived in Europe to many North American cities, some urban experts warn. Transplanting the 15-minute city template across the Atlantic could be ‘presumptive and colonial,’ said Toronto-based urban designer and thinker Jay Pitter at the CityLab 2021 conference hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute.

“ ‘We’ve actually designed cities to create buffers between us across race and class specifically, and this proposal completely ignores a century of planning interventions that have actually concretized deep social divisions between people,’ Pitter added.

Dan Hill, strategic director of Vinnova, Sweden’s national innovation agency, suggested that “an ambitious goal such as the 15-minute city requires cities to abandon the traditional notion of urban planning as divorced from other policies … such as health care, social services, and environmental policy.”

Pitter further noted, “Some cities, and neighborhoods might go from a 45-minute city to maybe a 20-minute city — and that would be significant progress. Some places will go from 60 minutes to 50 minutes and that too will be significant progress.”

Read the full article here. (~3 min.)

According to a March 15, 2021, East Bay Times article by George Avalos, several ‘15-minute city’ projects are proposed for downtown San Jose and other Bay Area cities. Read that story here.

Return to Northern News here.

Will ending single-family zoning create more housing?

By J.K. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, February 28, 2021

“[In the last week of February], the city councils in Berkeley and South San Francisco took steps to end single-family zoning, with Berkeley promising to get rid of it within a year and South City initiating a study as part of its general plan update.

“But while the movement to allow multifamily buildings in zones previously limited to single-family homes is being embraced as a correction of past discriminatory policies, … whether it will actually increase housing production is a lot more complicated, according to builders and architects.

“Sean Kieghran, president of San Francisco’s Residential Builders Association, said he supports getting rid of single-family only zoning but doesn’t think it will result in many new units.

“ ‘That zoning is a tool to create housing production is a widely held and completely fallacious idea. Just because something is permitted doesn’t mean it happens. It’s very hard to find a vacant lot or tear down at a price that would work,’ said Daniel Solomon, an architect who has worked on three single-family sized lot-to-fourplex conversions.

“The model might work best in more suburban communities with larger lot sizes and less expensive land, said Peter Cohen of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. He said cities getting rid of single-family zoning should focus on who these units will be serving and how they will help solve the region’s affordable-housing crisis.”

Read the full article here. (~5 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Berkeley begins process to end single-family zoning

By Supriya Yelimeli, Berkeleyside, February 24, 2021

“The Berkeley City Council unanimously denounced the racist history of single-family zoning in the city, beginning a two-year process to change the city’s general plan and introduce more multi-unit housing in every part of the city.

According to UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute, single-family zoning presents a barrier to promoting racial residential integration in the Bay Area.

“[Councilmember] Lori Droste and co-authors pointed out in the resolution that Berkeley was the first city in the United States to enact single-family zoning in 1916 in Droste’s district, the Elmwood. This combined with discriminatory lending practices, redlining, and the Berkeley Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance of 1973 to create deeply segregated neighborhoods.

“Due to the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation from Senate Bill 828, Berkeley is already required to build 9,000 more units in the next several years. Mayor Jesse Arreguín and others have said zoning changes are one of the only ways to accomplish this quantity, and that the choice to do away with single-family zoning was practically decided for them.

“ ‘I’m glad people have realized … that our Black population is almost gone, but we can’t separate that from the policies that got us here in the first place,’ said Councilmember Terry Taplin, rejecting an assertion that ending single-family zoning ‘in predominantly Black areas of the city could potentially further gentrification.’

“[Councilmember Ben Bartlett added, ‘… not only are we the birthplace of [single-family] race zoning, but we are also the birthplace of the Fair Housing Act authored by Berkeley’s own Byron Rumford, which became the Federal Fair Housing Act — a seminal piece of legislation guaranteeing equal access to housing.’ ”

Read the full article here. (~5 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Cities aren’t shrinking because everyone’s moving out, but because no one’s moving in

By Henry Grabar, Slate, February 22, 2021

“Big cities have clearly lost some verve during the pandemic. … The suits at McKinsey report on the ratio of arriving workers to departing ones, as captured by LinkedIn profiles. That ratio is down 27 percent in New York, 24 percent in San Francisco, 13 percent in Boston, and 11 percent in Los Angeles and Seattle. ‘This could be driven either by a greater number of workers leaving these areas or by fewer people entering these areas in 2020 compared to 2019,’ the researchers note.

“If the populations of the nation’s largest cities are truly plummeting, they are in big trouble. In the short term, they’ll have to cut public services and manage mass unemployment as the service sector withers. In the long term, they’ll have to confront the fact that the model behind the urban renaissance of the last 30 years — immigrants and yuppies — is dead.

“But what if all these departures aren’t actually out of step with historical patterns and the problem is instead that no one is coming to take their place?

“A handful of American cities have been dependent on foreign arrivals for almost all their population growth in recent years, including Cincinnati, Birmingham, and Miami. In many larger cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, immigrants have for many decades helped stabilize urban neighborhoods and jump-start local economies.

“[I]nstead of heeding complaints from departing suburbanites about ‘law and order’ or parking, pols ought to double down on the things that make dense urban neighborhoods attractive to the people who still want to live in them. … Clean streets. Better public space. An easy road for small businesses.”

Read the full article here. (~5 min.)

Return to Northern News here.