Tag: 2022-06-nn-norcal

Some of the free SPUR events through June

Some of the free SPUR events through June


Planning More Illuminated Cities

Wednesday, May 31. Special Program 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Is your night experience in cities poetic or fearful? Though architects and planners design the world around us primarily for the daytime hours, half of our lives are spent in the dark. Some individuals, such as culture lovers and clubbers, choose to go out at night, while others, like shift workers, must do so as part of their jobs. And let’s not forget the wintertime, when most of us experience cities after the sun sets early. However, regardless of the reasons that we traverse cities at night, well-designed illumination is vital to accessing our cities during these darkened hours. It connects us to fresh air and social interactions, while boosting local economies and augmenting safety and a sense of welcome. Join noted lighting urbanist Leni Schwendinger as she leads a panel of international lighting and urban design leaders to explore the perceptions, realities and creative possibilities of the city at night.


Budgeting for Climate Resilience in California

Thursday, June 2. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The California State Senate has proposed spending $18 billion on climate change resilience this year, outstripping the Governor’s office in the scope and scale of their ambitions. Bay Area Senator Robert Wieckowski, representing the 10th Senate District of southern Alameda and northern Santa Clara counties, has championed these efforts from his position as the chair of the budget subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, and Energy. Come hear Senator Wieckowski as he discusses the Senate’s bold climate vision and how he and his colleagues are working to turn it into reality.


Comprehending the Contested Complexity of CEQA

Tuesday, June 7. Evening Forum 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

CEQA, adopted in 1970, is the state’s key environmental protection statute. It requires state and local agencies to analyze proposed construction projects, publicly report potential environmental impacts and undertake all feasible measures to avoid or mitigate those impacts. Though the law established California as a world leader in environmental protection, many have argued that its abuse is an impediment to environmentally-friendly projects and directly responsible for the state’s housing crisis, as CEQA-related processes serve to delay, downsize, or even block new development, transportation, and infrastructure projects. The reality is as complex as the law itself. While some groups view CEQA as an outdated and counterproductive law in dire need of drastic reform, others see it as a critical shield for protecting the vulnerable, from California’s wildlands to its underrepresented communities. Take part in a discussion CEQA’s goals, successes, and failures, and what it might take to reform the embattled law while maintaining or even strengthening environmental protection.


Housing the Bay 2022

Thursday, June 9. Partnering Event with ULI, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Over the last five years, Housing the Bay has examined the drivers of our housing crisis, highlighted public and private sector solutions, and elevated the voices of a broad range of people from across our industry and North America. This year, ULI will continue to bring you the most compelling ideas and innovations for generating more housing and increasing affordability, with a clear-eyed focus on how we can go big. Join ULI and partners on June 9, 2022, for a full day of inspiring speakers, invigorating discussions, game-changing ideas, and tangible actions we can get to work on right away. Bring your mind, your energy, and your commitment to building the Bay Area we need and deserve to what is certain to be the Bay Area housing event of the year. Presented by ULI San Francisco.


A Home Run For Homes

Thursday, June 9. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

In 2016, the City of San Diego implemented the Affordable Homes Bonus Program (AHBP), which allows developers to build additional housing if they also dedicate a portion of the new development to be affordable. The program, which builds on top of California’s existing Density Bonus Law, has enabled a substantial increase in the production of market-rate and deed-restricted affordable homes in San Diego. The newly released report, Home Run for Homes: Celebrating Success of San Diego’s Affordable Homes Bonus Program, dives into how the AHBP is able to succeed in the face of skyrocketing housing costs. Come hear from the program’s architects, in conversation with experts from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, about how the AHBP could be more widely implemented to tackle California’s ongoing housing crisis.


Bringing the Trains to the Transit Center

Monday, June 13. Tour 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Opened in 2018, and stretching across four blocks in downtown San Francisco, Salesforce Transit Center is the Bay Area’s largest regional transportation hub. Though the facility serves seven different transit operators whose networks extend as far as Hercules, Palo Alto, and Santa Rosa, buses are the only public transit mode currently available. That will all change, however, when the transit center’s train platforms open later this decade as part of the Downtown Rail Extension: an ambitious, six-track infrastructural expansion that will facilitate access to Caltrain and, eventually, California High-Speed Rail. Join SPUR and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority for a behind-the-scenes tour of Salesforce Transit Center. We’ll take a look at the center’s current operations before descending underground to explore the train box, a key component that, when finished, will make the facility the true Grand Central Station of the West. In partnership with the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.


Education Workforce Housing in California: Developing the 21st Century Campus

Tuesday, June 14. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

As home prices soar throughout the state, one of the most prominent groups impacted are educators. Teachers and staff working in public school systems across California are struggling to find affordable housing in and around the communities in which they work. That scarcity forces long commutes or, in some cases, the decision to cohabitate with colleagues in order to stay within close proximity to the school where they’re employed. And as housing affordability challenges create acute staffing challenges, more school districts are considering building workforce housing on land they own. Join us for a comprehensive overview of the potential for school district land across the state to be designed and developed for affordable housing for the education workforce, and hear from a developer about what it takes to get this done. Co-presented by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.


Innovative Solutions in the Face of California’s Growing Housing Crisis

Thursday, June 16. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The cost of housing across the San Francisco Bay Area has grown exponentially over the last decade, leading to many homes becoming unaffordable for many families. As policymakers and experts look at different ways to address this ever-growing dilemma, companies like Nabr and Abodu are developing © solutions to providing affordable homeownership opportunities for Bay Area residents looking to purchase a home. Join us for a conversation with both companies to learn about the plans and products that each is implementing in an attempt to relieve the Bay Area’s worsening housing crisis.


Fixer Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems

Tuesday, June 21. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Housing prices in communities across the country are on the rise, reducing the number of affordable homes available for middle- and low-income families. Legislators and policy experts throughout the United States have been tirelessly working to alleviate the widening housing crisis through the implementation of new zoning policies, the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and by investing in the development of our cities’ urban cores. However, as described in her new book, Fixer Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems, Brookings’ Senior Fellow Jenny Schuetz argues that most discussions about how to address the housing crisis miss a key notion: that the nation’s housing systems have been constructed to be fundamentally unequal in nature. Join us to explore the arguments posed in her book and learn what it will take to create more affordable, and more widely available, housing stock across the country.


A New Social Contract for Housing in California

Wednesday, June 29. Lunchtime Forum 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

California’s housing crisis is now decades old, but its not for lack of good ideas, good planners, or serious resources. How do we build the type of grand bargains and big coalitions needed to make change? How do we even build the political will to change our housing system? A recent book by author Alex Schafran, Where We Go From Here, explores how new approaches to the real estate economy, to homeownership and resident control, and to questions of race and geography can help us design a better housing policy in the Golden State. Join us for a provocative exploration of what a new social contract for housing in California could look like.

Return to Northern News here.

If your meeting is really needed, keep it to 25 minutes

If your meeting is really needed, keep it to 25 minutes

By Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company, April 29, 2022

“Many … meetings don’t need to happen [says Donna McGeorge, author of The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact]. You can share information, says McGeorge, [via] email or … run polls, get opinions, and send video clips [without taking] up ‘nearly as much time as six personnel in a meeting.’

“Yet sometimes meetings are necessary. Meetings are best when you need an active conversation that involves bouncing ideas off each other …, says McGeorge.

While the default for meeting is usually an hour, McGeorge says the ideal is 25 minutes, … the optimal amount of time for people to focus. [And there’s] Parkinson’s Law, which work expands to fill the time allotted. If you give a meeting an hour, chances are you’ll find topics … to fill the void.

“French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann described the tendency for individual productivity to decrease as the size of the group increases. McGeorge recommends having no more than seven people … ‘to get the input from every one of them,’ she says.

McGeorge says successful meetings require the three Ps: purpose, people, and process.

“Start the meeting by determining what you’ll have accomplished by the end of the meeting. Next, make sure you’ve got the right people and tell them what they need to do. The final P is ‘process,’ which means having an effective way of running a meeting. McGeorge recommends ‘scan, focus, act.’ Scan for 12 minutes, going around the room, with everyone giving a one-minute update. The convener then focuses the information by providing feedback on the themes they’ve heard. Then, use the final minutes to come up with action items that can solve the problems. [Twenty-five minutes creates] ‘a sense of urgency for getting things done.’”

Read the full article here. (3 min.)

Return to Northern News here.

Walkability: Fairfield’s response to post-Covid urban planning

Walkability: Fairfield’s response to post-Covid urban planning

By Casey Case

Much has changed about day-to-day life as a result of the pandemic, and while headlines blare a return-to-work and back-to-normal, the way we plan cities and towns is being profoundly influenced. Trends that were apparent before Covid-19 such as reducing spaces for cars in favor of more walkability are accelerating. Other emerging concepts, such as the proliferation and permanence of parklets and the surge in demand for parks and green space, are also gaining favor.

Many towns are facilitating change in increments. In the case of Fairfield, California, the increment is a potential redesign of several blocks of a street and central grid.

California Avenue, Palo Alto, 2016. This sitting area with benches extends into what was formerly on-street parking. Photo: Gates + Associates.
California Avenue, Palo Alto, 2016. This sitting area with benches extends into what was formerly on-street parking. Photo: Gates + Associates.

A growing community of 120,000 between San Francisco and Sacramento, Fairfield has been like most California second-tier and suburban locales in its reliance on autos. In the U.S., streetscapes comprise the largest portion of public land, but a movement gaining tailwinds over the past two years is causing local residents, business owners, city leaders, and planners to re-think the use of this public resource.

San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) released research in February shedding more light on parking. In data compiled with the Mineta Transportation Institute, SPUR’s San Francisco Bay Area Parking Census found:

  • The nine-county Bay Area has 15 million parking spaces, enough to wrap around the planet 2.3 times.
  • 20 percent of incorporated land in the region is devoted to driving and storing cars.
  • There are approximately 2.4 spaces for every car and approximately 1.9 parking spaces for every person in the Bay Area.

Fairfield, in Solano County, is part of the Bay Area.

Said the authors, “There is far more parking than we need. This excess parking has become an accepted part of the urban landscape and makes residents more likely to drive, increasing carbon emissions and worsening climate impacts, air pollution and respiratory disease, rates of injury and death from collisions, and traffic congestion.”

Fairfield is underway — with a several square-block test case around the downtown intersection of Texas and Madison Streets — to re-evaluate its approach to urban streetscapes and walkability. With input from local citizens, shop owners, and constituents, the concepts may evolve into longer-range plans with extended coverage. Our current proposals to the city show narrower streets, patterned paving, and traffic-calming, as well as a transformative array of pedestrian-friendly improvements such as wider sidewalks, outdoor furniture, additional landscaping, and bike accommodation.

Increasing the sidewalk space will enable the creation of pedestrian-centric gathering spaces, art or mural installations, outdoor dining, and easier and safer walking paths and bikeways that can knit the community together. By selectively changing paving, narrowing specific streets, and introducing visual cues, the city can also slow down traffic and create a safer environment for the interaction of cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

Fairfield, CA, is eyeing a more pedestrian-centric downtown including narrower streets, changed paving, and visual cues that slow down traffic while widening sidewalks and adding landscaping, outdoor furniture, and other amenities. Source: Gates + Associates.
Fairfield, CA, is eyeing a more pedestrian-centric downtown including narrower streets, changed paving, and visual cues that slow down traffic while widening sidewalks and adding landscaping, outdoor furniture, and other amenities. Source: Gates + Associates.

Fairfield’s plans to add trees and pockets of greenspace will enhance eye appeal and offer shade, adding to walkability. The benefits of greenspace on public health are widely known, but a 2015 Ontario Public Health Study found specifically that tree-lined streets and well-connected parks deliver real value. While researching general health and tree density in Toronto and controlling for demographics, the study authors found “that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger.”

The pandemic led many people to “get outside,” quoting our company’s landscape design maxim. That, in turn, is leading more cities to refocus their urban planning toward a better, people-centric, “new normal.”

Image of Casey Case with Gates AssociatesCasey Case is President of Gates + Associates, a landscape architecture and urban design firm in Walnut Creek, CA, creating sustainable, extraordinary places in California and the Western U.S. She holds a BS in landscape architecture from UC Davis.

Return to Northern News here.

Infrastructure for Infill

Infrastructure for Infill

Introducing a paper by the California Planning Roundtable, May 2022

For good reason, California is directing most future growth closer to jobs where people can take shorter commutes by multiple means, including transit, to reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gases generated to slow climate change and its impacts. This means that California’s metropolitan areas will mostly grow up with infill and redevelopment of underdeveloped properties rather than grow out by sprawling onto greenfield lands. If planned correctly, more affordable housing opportunities and lower cost travel options will be available to more California households of different incomes, sizes, and ages.

Good planning, however, calls for complete communities with quality sustainable infrastructure — water and waste, energy, digital, storm management, sidewalks, and streetscapes — and public facilities (schools, libraries, parks and open space, health services, public safety, and shelter) to serve this growth and to remedy past deficiencies to prepare for growth. The former may be called “basic infrastructure” and the latter “social infrastructure.” As we grow housing opportunities with infill development, we need to plan and fund Infrastructure for Infill.

The challenge lies not in recognizing the need, but in organizing to address it. Without adequate infrastructure, plans will not be fulfilled and turned into actual development, neither because of system failures, unacceptable impacts, and increasing costs, nor because of public opposition. Infrastructure for infill development, more so than for greenfield development, involves coordinating many existing and new interests, including property owners, renters, businesses, workers, and governments.

Infrastructure itself comes in different sizes, conditions, and types. Who benefits and who pays for it is not always clear or fairly apportioned. Those who feel that they have already paid — or are still paying — are not as willing to tax themselves to pay more unless they feel their services are also improved. Unlike new planned communities with private facilities, there are no homeowners’ associations to fund and manage maintenance. The public realm has much broader responsibilities.

Older and vulnerable communities facing greater costs to upgrade often include populations and households with fewer financial means and the capacity to fund those costs. The greater good may require cross-subsidies to address these inherent inequities.

Some mechanisms exist but are not always adequate. Either they are too narrowly applied, do not generate the scale of funding needed, or have approval requirements designed for limited property ownership and voters (as in community facility districts) or require a supermajority of voters jurisdiction-wide. That can be a challenge when the need is for a subset of the jurisdiction and some of the voters being asked to approve new taxes and fees already have adequate infrastructure and facilities. In addition, legacy facility standards are often inappropriate for infill contexts where land is expensive, uses are mixed, and ownership is disaggregated and varied. Common suburban standards, where land costs much less, may not work in urban contexts.

California’s communities, residents, and businesses need the State to provide local governments and their communities with more tools to fund infrastructure for infill if it expects them to support California’s growth strategy. State and federal attention understandably is placed on big regional infrastructure, such as regional transportation, energy, broadband, and water/sewer systems. However, as the State takes a more direct role in regulating housing, land use, and mobility to further sustainability, resilience, and equity policies, it also needs to take a more direct role in providing localities with the tools they need to provide the smaller — but in aggregate, just as important — infrastructure needed to maintain and create the balanced communities that Californian’s want and deserve.

The California Planning Roundtable has prepared a paper making this case: Infrastructure for Infill (7 pp, 832 kb). Contributors to the paper are William Anderson, FAICP; Marc Roberts, Woodie Tescher; Tom Jacobson, Ann Cheng, and Al Zelinka.

Return to Northern News here.

Who’s where

Who’s where

Gerry Beaudin, AICP, is now City Man­ager, City of Pleas­anton, where he had been the Director of Com­munity Develop­ment, 2015-2019. He most recently was as­sistant city manager for the City of Alameda for just under three years. From 2000 to 2015, Beaudin held a series of increas­ingly responsible planning positions in Calgary, Toronto, Los Altos, South San Francisco, and Mountain View. He holds a master of science in planning from the University of Toronto and a BA in geography from Queen’s University, also in Ontario.

Jamie Bourne has joined Good City Company, where she is cur­rently As­sistant City Plan­ner for the cities of San Carlos and Portola Valley. She just moved back to the Peninsula after seven years in Washington State. Local planners may remember her from her two years with Neal Martin & Associates, 2005-2007. Bourne holds a master’s in environmental analysis and urban and regional planning from UC Irvine.

Dahlia Chazan, AICP, has joined Caltrain as Deputy Chief, Caltrain Plan­ning, lead­ing the Caltrain Plan­ning Depart­ment. She had worked for Arup for 10 years, most recently as assoc­iate prin­cipal leading the integrated planning team; she was serving as planning lead for the planning and engineering contract on Link21, the new transbay rail crossing. Before that, she was at Placeworks (formerly DC&E) for more than six years. Chazan holds a master’s in urban and regional planning, a master’s in environmental policy (both from the University of Michigan), and a BS in ecology, behavior, and evolution from UC San Diego. She chairs SPUR’s Oakland Board and served on our Northern Section Board as East Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC) from 2013-2015.

Mari Hsu, who had been assoc­iate editor for North­ern News and SJSU Student Repre­sentative to the North­ern Section Board, is now an Assoc­iate Trans­portation Planner with Green DOT Trans­portation Solutions, Chico. They grew up in a part of Appalachia that relies solely on personal cars, and access to public and active transit is near and dear to their heart. Now the holder of an MUP from San José State University, Hsu centered their Masters Planning Report on mobility justice and community engagement around bus rapid transit implementations in the East Bay and San Francisco. Hsu also holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Bryn Mawr College.

Alex Eisen­­hart, a trans­portation com­muni­ca­tions pro­fes­sional, is the new Com­muni­ca­tions Director for North­ern Sec­tion. He holds a master of science in trans­portation manage­ment from the Mineta Trans­portation Institute at San Jose State University and a BA in media arts production from Emerson College (Boston). Eisenhart has worked in communications for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Caltrain/SamTrans, City of Dublin, and San Mateo County Health Department. He brings to the Board his passion for storytelling, transportation, and sustainability. A self-proclaimed aviation geek, Eisenhart can list the entire fleet and route hub of every major U.S. airline.

Xue Ling, AICP, is the new Mid-Career Plan­ners Group Director for North­ern Section. Ling is an assoc­iate planner with the County of Santa Clara and lives in Saratoga. Between 2011 and 2019, she worked as an urban planner and land­scape designer with SOM (San Francisco), HOK (San Francisco), and SWA (Laguna Beach). Ling holds a master of urban and regional planning from UC Irvine and a BS in urban planning from Tongji University, Shanghai. She also serves on the APA California Board as the Awards Coordinator for APA California.

Elizabeth Owen, upon comple­tion of her master’s degree in urban and re­gional plan­ning from UCLA this June, will be joining Arup as a Graduate Trans­portation Plan­ner in their San Francisco office. Owen has held a number of land use and trans­portation intern­ships since 2018. She holds a bachelor of urban studies and planning from UC San Diego, and was a student representative to APA California’s executive board, 2019-2021.

Christina Ratcliffe, AICP, is now Plan­ning and De­velop­ment Services Di­rector for the City of Vallejo, where she had been plan­ning manager. Ratcliffe was com­munity and eco­nomic develop­ment di­rector for Martinez, 2017-2020, and community development director for Benicia, 2015-2017. Before that, she worked in the planning departments of Orinda, Alameda, Berkeley, and Saratoga, in addition to nine years with consulting firm PMC. Ratcliffe holds a master’s in city and regional planning (UC Berkeley) and a BA in urban studies (San Francisco State). She served on the Northern Section Board as Professional Development Director (2003-2006 and 2009-2010). Ratcliffe is excited to continue building the Vallejo team and shepherding its many great projects. At home, she enjoys relaxing with family and friends and hiking with her mutt.

Timothy Rood, AICP, is now Com­munity Develop­ment Di­rector for the City of Hercules, where he will guide the remain­ing phases of the Bayfront, Town Center, and re­gional transit center. Rood had been with the City of San Jose for five years as a prin­cipal planner and later as plan­ning divi­sion man­ager. He was an owner of Community Design + Architecture (2006-2017) and a principal at Calthorpe Associates (1998-2006). Rood holds M.Arch and MCP degrees from UC Berkeley and an AB in architecture from Columbia. He served as a Piedmont City Councilmember (2014-2021) and represented Piedmont on the boards of East Bay Community Energy and the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, Energy Council, and Recycling Board, collectively known as StopWaste.org.

Nick Zornes is the new De­velop­ment Ser­vices Di­rector at the City of Los Altos. Zornes has been an environ­mental planner with the Ne­braska Depart­ment of Environ­mental Quality, plan­ner for the City of Dana Point, Cali­fornia, a plan­ner for the City of Encinitas — and most recently — planning manager for Riverside. He holds a master’s in community development from the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) and a bachelor’s in urban planning and sustainability from Arizona State University (Tempe).

Return to Northern News here.