Tag: nn-norcal-may-2019

In memoriam

In memoriam

Northern News PDF, 27, kept Northern California’s urban planners informed

Northern News is saddened to announce the passing of its PDF on April 14 in San Francisco.

At an unobtrusive table not far from the entry to Moscone Center West, a small group of city planners said goodbye on April 14 to the last Northern News PDF, handing out bespoke printed copies of the April 2019 edition. Among them was Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, 85, who as Northern News’ editor since 2005, has overseen the growth and development of the publication from a brown and white, eight-page, printed and mailed newsletter to its current all-digital format.

The child of Northern Section AIP News and Northern Section AIP Newsletter, Northern News was born in San Francisco in November 1978.

By all accounts, Northern News was happy in its cut-and-paste pre-PDF childhood in the Bay Area. As a teen, it grew into a PDF, which in the 1990s was a new way for individuals to share text and inline images with each other — and with printers who could mail printed versions of documents to subscribers — in this case, to Northern California planners.

But with printing and mailing costs escalating in the early 2000s, the APA California Northern Section board voted in July 2007 to cease mail delivery of the Northern News PDF and instead distribute the PDF via the Internet. That same year, the PDF was reformatted so that each article would be set in a single, continuous, right-hand column of text that could be read easily on a computer screen — thin page breaks were the only interruptions.

In April 2011, a full-color magazine cover was added to the PDF that, by then, had become a news magazine averaging 24 pages per issue.

Northern News selfie taken in 2012 at age 20

The single-column, continuous-page PDF was produced through April 2013, but its format changed after a chance meeting on an airplane when editor Knox sat in first class and next to the owner and CEO of a multinational media corporation. Observing Mr. Knox reviewing and editing Northern News on an iPad, he introduced himself and asked to look at the publication. The executive then pointed out that readers tend to skim PDF documents, and that readership drops off quickly with each succeeding page. Assuming that growing and maintaining readership was important, the CEO said, it was critical to begin major articles on an early page but then continue each article to the back after just one page — rather than continuing an article onto consecutive pages until it is complete. Thus each new page in, say, the first 10, would begin a new article.

The very next PDF of Northern News, May 2013, adopted that format, which continued until the death of the PDF six years later.

Northern News PDF saw some heady days. It averaged 30.4 pages during the three years 2014–2016, and the longest Northern News PDF ever (27,800 words on 38 pages, with 40 images) was the two-month edition issued for December 2015-January 2016.

Vital until the very end, Northern News PDF left behind a 37-page April 2019 issue with six major articles, 15,500 words, and 54 images.

The Northern Section board and the editors expect to continue Northern News without interruption and without PDF, in the format in which you are reading this memoriam.

Services have been held. Donations in memory of Northern News PDF may be made to the California Planning Foundation.

“Storytelling” at People of Color mixer in March

“Storytelling” at People of Color mixer in March


By Cherise Orange, April 2, 2019

Diversity Directors Cindy Ma, AICP, and Cherise Orange kicked off 2019 with STORYTELLING — an art and a creative way to connect people through words and to take their imaginations across distant lands. Stories can be funny, meaningful, emotional, or a mixture of all. Storytelling can help planners generate interest, understand the communities they serve, and empower residents.

The first Diversity event of the year, a Planners of Color (POC) mixer, was held Wednesday, March 27, at Lost & Found on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. More than 25 Bay Area planners attended to exchange ideas, network, and enjoy.

To learn about what the Diversity Committee has in store for 2019 and to sign up for event blasts, please email diversity@norcalapa.org.

SF Urban Film Festival news

SF Urban Film Festival news

By Fay Darmawi, April 12, 2019

SFUFF — the SF Urban Film Fest — had so much success in February 2019 that they have decided to hold their sixth season at the same time next year.

The festival will be coming to a theater near you from February 2 through 9, 2020.

In addition, the festival has extended its submissions deadline to April 30, 2019.

If you have a film about urban issues, you can submit it here.

My short course on Working with Difficult People

My short course on Working with Difficult People

By Steve Matarazzo

This is about arrogance in the public sector workplace, what might be behind it, and how it tends to play out.

If you are reading this, I am probably not writing about you being either an arrogant planner or a bureaucrat. I expect, however, that you will relate to this article, as the two types of “arrogant planner” I will describe are ubiquitous in the California public sector city-planning landscape. Keep in mind, I am only describing two types of high and mighty planner — and most of us are collegial, team players, and delightful in every way.

Over the past 40 years of my planning career, most of which has been within city and county planning departments, I have encountered two types of arrogant planner.

One appears to use arrogance as a defense mechanism, employing obnoxious behavior to keep fellow planners and other bureaucrats at bay. This planner tends to have a “hubristic arrogance,” or an overestimation of his or her competence. But on close examination, he turns out to be less than fully qualified for the position he holds and doesn’t want anyone to know about it. So he or she behaves abhorrently to repel people.

The second type of arrogant planner is imperious because he or she is better qualified and more competent than most of the other planners around. This planner has what I call a “prideful arrogance” based on his or her superior abilities compared to the other planners with whom she works or engages.

His holier than thou attitude bears results similar to the behavior of the first type: he tends to repel close, working relationships with other planners in the department.

Regarding the first type of arrogant planner, I have found little to gain from their knowledge, or lack thereof, so I have tended to give them the space they seek and deserve. But it is the second type of arrogant planner I have found most intriguing, and will engage with, no matter how strongly repulsive or condescending. Why? Because the imperious planners, like them or not, have had something to teach me. I have garnered significant vocational benefits from them over the years.

And then, of course, there are planners — arrogant or not — who may be difficult or repulsive for other reasons. Some may have had to attend several late night meetings in a row, or carry unreasonable workloads, or are going through adverse domestic situations. These planners may have barely slept for weeks while trying to solve major planning problems for the cities for which they work. It’s no surprise that they also tend to give you short shrift. So if you work with or around any of these planners — and there are quite a few these days — cut them some slack!

For the past three years, Steve Matarazzo has been planning director at the UC MBEST Center at the former Fort Ord, California. Before that, he was with Michael Baker International, and served as Sand City community development director (14 years) and city manager (six years) before retiring in March 2014. In earlier positions, Matarazzo worked for Santa Cruz County, Morgan Hill, and Woodside. He holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara. Over the years, Matarazzo has written a number of op-eds for Northern News, most recently in March 2017.

Pro bono planning assistance for California communities
Kingsburg community meeting — a well-attended City Council workshop with great participation. CPAT

Pro bono planning assistance for California communities

By Robert Paternoster, FAICP

Do you know of a municipality or community group that desperately needs planning assistance to address a pressing problem but doesn’t have the resources to hire a planner or planning consultant? Or perhaps you know of a new or struggling planning function that could benefit from peer review and support?

APA California can come to the rescue with its Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) program. Modeled after an APA National program of the same name, Cal Chapter’s CPAT provides pro bono (i.e., free) planning assistance to communities in need.

CPAT pairs teams of expert planning professionals from throughout the State with local resident, business, and government stakeholders to address a specific planning issue. The team members engage the community representatives in a short but intensive planning process which might result in a vision for the community’s future, a strategy for achieving specific planning goals, a site plan for a developing area, an economic development strategy, or a collaborative planning process for resolving ongoing local planning problems. Recent projects have included an economic development plan for Hughson, CA (southeast of Modesto); a set of action priorities for a new downtown development coordinator in Oxnard; and a revitalization strategy for Downtown Kingsburg, CA (southeast of Fresno).

A CPAT team recently assisted Kingsburg, a city of 12,000 in Fresno County. L-R, Stan Hoffman; Alexander Henderson, City Manager; Cynthia de la Torre; Michael Dozier; Robert Paternoster, CPAT Team Leader; Michelle Roman, Mayor; Tom Ford; Emily Morishita; and Jolene Polyack, Kingsburg’s Economic Development Advisor.

Here’s how to bring this free and helpful service to a town or community group that needs such assistance: Tell a local leader who might champion the project about CPAT, and put him or her in touch with the program administrator, Bob Paternoster (562) 400-3825 or robertpaternoster@yahoo.com. The program description — along with links to complete the Community Planning Assistance Team Volunteer Form and to complete and file a Community Request for Assistance Form — can be found here.

You may want to help the community fill out and submit the Request for Assistance. The only cost to the community would be the transportation and room and board costs for the team, usually no more than a few thousand dollars.

This is a great opportunity for communities throughout California. Please spread the word!

Robert Paternoster, FAICP, is an independent planning professional in the Los Angeles area. He served as Director of Planning and Building in Long Beach for 22 years and as Director of Community Development in Sunnyvale for six years. Bob holds a master of city planning from Harvard University and a BS in civil engineering from Lehigh University.

2019 Northern Section Awards Gala June 7

2019 Northern Section Awards Gala June 7


Join us on June 7 at our 2019 Awards Gala as we honor innovative plans, projects, and distinguished APA members.

This year, meet and mingle with fellow planners as we present our Northern Section awards at Starline Social Club, a restaurant/bar at 2236 Martin Luther King Junior Way, Oakland. Our Section winners often go on to win APA state and national awards.

We offer discounted ticket bundles, so bring your friends and colleagues. Come network, get energized, have fun, and meet your fellow and upcoming STAR planners.

  • Networking Reception: 6:00 to 7:15
  • Presentation of Awards: 7:15 to 8:30
  • Networking Reception: 8:30 to 9:30

NOTE: Oakland’s ‘First Friday’ event takes place the same evening. Parking in the area is limited, so we encourage you to take public transportation, use a ride share service, or carpool. Starline Social Club is a half-mile, 10-minute walk (or a six-minute bus ride on the 72M) from the 19th Street/Oakland BART Station.

Go here for tickets and more information.


New! Northern Section webinar series
TIME FOR WEBINAR word with Notepad and green plant on wooden background

New! Northern Section webinar series

By Shannon Hake, AICP, April 12, 2019

The National Planning Conference is always a great way to learn about innovative projects and best practices in planning from around the country, and this year’s event highlighted many Northern California successes. To keep the momentum of NPC19 going, APA California – Northern Section will hold a series of quarterly webinars showcasing Northern California’s best practices in planning throughout 2019.

The webinars will highlight members’ projects, plans, policies, and innovations (and allow members to earn CM credits throughout the year without needing to travel). The Northern Section has made it easy to participate — and unlike NPC, you don’t need to assemble a panel of speakers or apply to be a speaker eight months in advance.

We will hold webinars in May, August, and November, showcasing the great planning work happening in Northern California. The section will coordinate sessions based on similar topics, register the webinars for CM credit, and moderate the webinars. All you have to do is prepare a 15-minute presentation on a Northern California planning topic of your choice and we’ll take care of the rest.

Interested in presenting your work? Just complete this form by April 30 to let us know what you’d like to present and to be considered for the webinar series. Contact Distance Education Coordinator Shannon Hake, AICP, with any questions.

Director’s note — May 2019

By James A. Castañeda, AICP

A very successful NPC19

After four stimulating days in the halls of Moscone West, I’m still processing everything from the hugely successful National Planning Conference held in San Francisco. NPC19 went off without a hitch and with a record-breaking attendance (6,400+) for an APA national planning conference. Our Local Host Committee leadership heard directly that the mobile workshops were amazing and the sessions insightful. I couldn’t be more pleased for our Northern Section to be praised for the achievements of NPC19, and I am honored to be your Section Director during this exciting time.

Special thanks to Immediate Past Section Director Sharon Grewal, AICP, who coordinated the incredible and well attended APA California Chapter reception.

A shout-out to our NPC19 Welcome Table volunteers

In the center of the Moscone West entrance hall and practically under the down-escalators, coordinators Juan Borrelli, AICP, Hing Wong, AICP, and I worked alongside the following volunteers to greet every passing planner, answer their questions about Northern Section, or engage them in conversation: Aireen Batungbakal, Michael Casas, Jeanine Cavalli, Melissa Chan, Nikki Chan, Jill Feyk-Miney, Jennifer Fierman, AICP, Kristine Gaspar, Naphtali Knox, FAICP, Eli Krispi, Andrea Mardesich, Melanie Medina, Keiko Murayama, AICP, Kayla Nelson, Shagufa Qureshi, Mike Rivera, Vicente Romero, Hannah Sada, Lois Scott, AICP, Maggie Smith, Syd Sotoodeh, Steven Spickard, AICP, Reanna Tong, AICP Candidate, Kimberly Wever, and Mary Woods. Thank you all, and a big thanks to lead coordinator Juan Borrelli, AICP, for supervising Saturday and Sunday, and to Vicente Romero for supervising Monday and Tuesday. (Apologies to those who staffed the table but whose names we may have missed — or vice versa.)

I’m also delighted to announce that we raised more than $500 for the California Planning Foundation scholarship program at the welcome table and the Chapter reception. (Students, CPF is currently accepting applications for its 2019 scholarship program, but be aware that the deadline for this year’s awards is April 30.)

Beyond NPC19

I suspect that most of us who attended the conference will for weeks continue to reflect on and share what inspired them. I will too.

Joel Albizo. Photo: James Castañeda, AICP.

Before the opening keynote, we were introduced to APA’s new CEO, Joel Albizo, who observed that great communities are diverse, inclusive, and equitable, and noted that planners — as change agents in our communities — are “leaning in,” committing to support these characteristics. His remarks set the tone, not only for the conference, but also for the future of our profession.

The vast undertaking of the conference is behind us, but I hope our section can continue the themes, energy, and momentum locally. Specifically, I want to share some of what we saw and learned with those of you who weren’t able to make it to NPC19 or to any of the excellent mobile workshops that highlighted the planning we do here. So I’ll be working with your local Regional Activities Coordinators (RACs) to see if we can replicate some workshops elsewhere in our region. I also want to keep in mind the themes from NPC19 that resonated with many and ensure we’re mindful of them in our program.

To the APA national staff, our Local Host Committee leaders and volunteers, the mobile workshop coordinators and guides, our welcome table volunteers, and to every Northern Section member who attended the conference and served as an ambassador to the Bay Area, thank you sincerely, and congratulations on a superb NPC19! I look forward to working with you over the next two years to making our planning professionals the very best agents of desirable change within our communities.

Sustainable Chinatown wins the (Environmental Planning) Gold at NPC19
This affordable housing project (Ping Yuen) consists of three buildings with 234 units. It received upgrades to introduce solar panels and improvements to enhance water and energy efficiency while improving resident comfort.

Sustainable Chinatown wins the (Environmental Planning) Gold at NPC19

From APA, April 15, 2019

Sustainable Chinatown began in 2014 as a collaboration between the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco Department of the Environment, and Enterprise Community Partners to create more affordable housing, improve access to public space, and provide services to residents and businesses — all while emphasizing environmental performance and long-term resilience in the face of threats such as gentrification and climate change.

Key projects include:

  • Renovation of the Ping Yuen affordable housing development (including water and energy efficiency improvements and a $1.5 million solar photovoltaic installation),
  • Community education on sustainability and resilience topics,
  • Efforts to introduce greening and stormwater infrastructure throughout Chinatown, and
  • A proposed ‘Resilience Hub’ to help the neighborhood withstand climate change and other natural and man-made disasters.
This affordable housing project (Ping Yuen) consists of three buildings with 234 units. It received upgrades to introduce solar panels and improvements to enhance water and energy efficiency while improving resident comfort.

Once a landmark public housing project intended to serve Asian American families, by the late 1970s Ping Yuen (and its neighbor North Ping Yuen) had become a community struggling with underfunded management and repair, crime, and a disconnection to City services and support. Chinatown Community Development Center acquired these buildings through the City’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, and is rehabilitating them while also adding a much-needed community center for resident events and community activities.