Northern News, Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012

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NORTHERN NEWS American Planning Association

A Publication of the Northern Section of the California Chapter of APA

Making Great Communities Happen

Dec. 2011/Jan. 2012

Distributed renewable energy Page 4

Photo: Nancy Roberts Wind turbines, Solano County, CA

TO READ ONLINE Use control bar at top to select full screen or single-page formats. TO READ OFFLINE OR PRINT Download the two PDFs for this issue: SECTION A: SECTION B:

NORTHERN NEWS American Planning Association

Making Great Communities Happen

A Publication of the Northern Section of the California Chapter of APA


The once and future General Plan By Barry Miller, AICP


he modern California general plan has been with us for 40 years. Save for a minor revision in 1984 (dropping the “seismic safety” and “scenic highways” elements), we are operating under the same content requirements that have guided general plans since 1971. The state has nearly doubled in population since then, and there have been enormous physical, social, economic, political, and technological changes. These changes suggest it may be time for a paradigm shift, if not a wholesale reinvention of the general plan as we know it. The California Planning Roundtable kicked off the discussion by highlighting best practices around the State and asking local planners to think about ways to keep their plans relevant and effective. (See related article on page 16.) It may be helpful to look at the reasons the rules need to change. The list below offers my perspective. Consider it food for thought as California’s “second planning revolution” begins. 1. Big data. According to IBM, ninety percent of the data in the world today was created in the last two years. Access to information has reshaped the way we plan. With the touch

of a finger, we can call up detailed aerial photos and streetlevel views of every block in our community. We can summon an encyclopedia of local demographics, history, and science. We can manipulate and communicate data on a scale never imagined before. The challenge for planners is not to be overwhelmed. It’s easy to get lost in data and miss the big picture, or to rely too much on data and not enough on intuition. As planners, we must stay ahead of the curve and constantly develop new methods, strategies, and communication tools to utilize information and technology. The 2003 General Plan Guidelines do not recognize the resources available to us today and need to be updated on a more regular basis. 2. Subject creep. Early general plans focused on land use and transportation. Over time, their scope evolved to include housing, conservation, and hazards. State provisions for “optional” elements have enabled countless additional topics, creating more interesting and responsive plans.

Then and Now. General Plans from the 1940s through the 70s used a few categories and conceptual shapes to convey big picture concepts. (San Francisco General Plan, 1953, at left). With the advent of GIS, the diagrams now resemble zoning maps, with dozens of categories and parcel-level detail. (Concord General Plan, 2007, at right).

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WHAT’S INSIDE The once and future General Plan It’s time to rethink the General Plan as we know it. State rules governing the Plan have been flexible enough to respond to new technologies and shifting priorities, but we can do better. The General Plan Guidelines and underlying legislative requirements need to be revisited to reflect today’s realities and future expectations. PAGE 1

Call for Nominations, 2012 APA–California Northern Section Awards Awards categories, and where to get the submittal form. Applications are due March 16. PAGE 12

Job ads update

Director’s note

Northern News is no longer publishing job ads. Find out why, and where you can post job ads at no cost. PAGE 13

In his monthly column, Section Director Hanson Hom highlights Northern Section activities and accomplishments in 2011. PAGE 3

Al Boeke, architect and Sea Ranch developer, dead at 88. PAGE 14

Distributed renewable energy: Plan on it Renewable energy in California is booming. California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires a third of utility retail sales to come from renewable energy sources by 2021. Power—once generated close to the users — is now transmitted over long distances to population centers. Distributed generation of energy (DG) is a local, cost-effective power strategy that can meet targets for “localized electricity generation.” But development of energy-generating facilities in urbanized areas will pose challenges for urban planners. PAGE 4

Urban fabric: Strategies for American cities The Middle City is a change concept for cities that are neither shrinking nor growing, but are searching for direction. Case studies of former manufacturing cities on the East Coast illustrate adaptations these cities have used to meet 21st Century challenges. Foremost is the use of partnerships to shape compromise, develop funding sources, and enact change within the areas. PAGE 8

Where in the world Each issue, we publish a photo of urban planning interest and ask you to guess the location. Answer provided somewhere in the same edition. PAGE 11


Clean Energy showcase

Mentorship A review of what worked during the first year of the Section’s mentorship program, and a call for volunteer mentors and mentees for 2012. PAGE 15

Members of the California Planning Roundtable are involved in an ongoing process to guide communities in better ways to prepare general plans. Supported by APA California, the California Planning Roundtable has undertaken to “reinvent the general plan” and revitalize it as an essential tool to help California communities tackle 21st Century issues. PAGE 16

Plan-it Sustainably Much as the voluntary performance standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) have incentivized the building industry, the new Sustainable Transportation Analysis & Rating System (STARS) aims to promote transportation sustainability. Transportation professionals can use a standard checklist to plan for or to evaluate the full life cycle impact of their efforts on access, climate, energy, and benefit/cost. PAGE 17

Who’s where Stay up to date with the major movements of your colleagues and learn about new members of the Northern Section board. PAGE 18


Four photos of the most cutting-edge energy innovations on the market. From the City of San José “Green Vision, Clean Energy Showcase” in October. PAGE 21

Norcal roundup

Reinventing the GP— worth a look

Northern News

HSR notes Congressional Republicans want to rescind federal funds for high-speed rail. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office and others consider California high-speed rail a boondoggle digging a costly hole. Communities along the Central Valley ‘first segment’ and several Peninsula cities are seriously concerned about the rail line’s impacts on their communities. Good news for the project: Its latest business plan says the project will generate an operating profit and will not need to rely on government funding for operations. PAGE 19

A sampling of articles from around Northern Section (coastal California from the Oregon border to and including Monterey County and the Bay Area). PAGE 22

What others are saying The synopsis of planning stories from around the country illustrates the breadth of issues that impact our work as planners. The extracts provide a snapshot of the trends that shape our profession, from a potential trade case against Chinese solar panel manufacturers, to national shifts in population, to the latest on redevelopment agencies and water distribution in California. PAGE 25

Calendar Events of interest to planners, December–March 2012. PAGE 28

Directory Board member contacts, newsletter information, address changes. PAGE 31 ■

December 2011/January 2012


By Hanson Hom, AICP

The Year in Review It is hard to believe that 2011 is coming to a close. Before we launch into 2012, let’s reflect on the past year’s accomplishments of the Northern Section. First, I am proud to acknowledge our dedicated team of 37 Board Directors who have committed hundreds of hours providing members with a full plate of activities and events during the past 12 months. All of their time was volunteered while they juggled demanding work schedules and competing personal priorities. For some directors, it included becoming a new parent for the first time! Our core goal is providing cost effective services and events to maximize the benefits that members receive from the portion of their APA dues that are allocated to Northern Section. So where do your dues go? Highlights include the following:

• Events: Countless Board hours were spent organizing, sponsoring, and publicizing approximately 85 networking and educational events in 2011. Each month has offered social mixers and professional development opportunities organized by and for APA Northern members. Regional Advisory Council (RAC) Chairs, one for each of the Section’s seven sub-regions, ensure that convenient events are planned in each area. We also actively partnered with related organizations such as AEP and SPUR to co-sponsor activities of interest or value to members. From your feedback we know that low-cost and easily accessible AICP CM credits are highly desired. In the past year, the Northern Section sponsored nearly 100 units of local AICP CM credits for APA members, including courses for ethics and law credits. (See calendar, page 28, for upcoming law credit course, Dec. 15.) Other activities have benefited students and young professionals such as those organized by an active Young Planners Group (YPG). Natalie DeLeon and Lindsey Virdeh have capably served as the YPG Co-chairs. Lindsey is stepping down. We wish her the very best as we offer a warm welcome to Avalon Schulz who has just been appointed the new YPG Co-chair. A recent successful Northern Section event was The Current State of Planning: Navigating New Roles

Northern News

and Careers in Planning. The all-day symposium held on November 5 explored the future of the planning profession and job market. Approximately 100 students and recent graduates attended with participation from experienced professionals in diverse planning fields. Many accolades go to YPG and the SJSU Urban Planning Coalition, particularly Johnasies McGraw, all of whom were instrumental in organizing the event. Many of you attended our annual Holiday Party at the Blu Restaurant in San Francisco on December 9. It is an end-of-the-year tradition partly funded by membership dues. Many thanks to Darcy Kremin, AICP, and others who organized this year’s successful event.

• Awards: An important annual activity recognizes exemplary planning projects and planners in the Northern Section. This year’s Awards Program was once again a major success. From a very strong group of nominations, 15 projects and plans were honored with Northern Section Awards at our Awards Banquet in May, and seven went on to receive an Award of Excellence or Award of Merit at this year’s Chapter conference in Santa Barbara. Nominations are now open for the 2012 Awards, so start thinking about submitting a proposal. (See for details and submittal forms.) On a related note, the Northern Section was proud to contribute $4,500 for California Planning Foundation scholarships to Northern Section planning students. Awardees were announced at the Awards Banquet and Chapter conference. • Diversity Program: Supporting diversity in the profession continues to be an important goal of the Northern Section. Diversity Co-directors Miroo Desai, AICP, and Kay Cheng reached out to high schools to introduce students to the planning profession. They also organized social mixers for planners of color. The Northern Section is also involved in promoting diversity initiatives at the Chapter level. A highlight was the Diversity Summit at the chapter’s annual conference. • Newsletter: If you are reading this now, you have noticed the high quality of our newsletter which is published 10 times a year. We strive to provide timely, relevant, and topical information for Northern Section planners. We continually strive to improve the content, (continued on next page)

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DIRECTOR’S NOTE (continued from previous page) appearance, and delivery of the newsletter, which has now grown to more than 20 pages. The newsletter is primarily a volunteer effort overseen by a hardworking three-member editorial team led by Naphtali Knox, FAICP, with numerous content contributors. Articles from members are always welcome.

• eNews: Complementing our newsletter, the eNews is sent twice a month to remind members of upcoming events and activities. As an added service, RAC Chairs have begun sending focused emails to members in each RAC subregion, and we are actively posting announcements on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Brenna Moorhead, AICP, Membership Director, who has produced the eNews for the past two years is turning over the reins to Rodrigo Orduña, AICP. We thank Brenna for her exceptional service and welcome Rodrigo as the new Membership Director. The above is a brief snapshot of 2011 Board activities and priorities. We look forward to planning for 2012 at our annual retreat in January. Participation in Board activities, and ideas and suggestions for improving services to members are most welcome. Please feel free to contact me at ■

Distributed renewable energy: Plan on it By Josh Hohn, AICP


e remain in a boom time for renewable energy in California. The recent frantic pace of large-scale development may be letting up somewhat, but there is little doubt that projects will continue to be built. It also appears that more of these projects will be smaller in scale and closer to our cities and neighborhoods (“load centers,” in energy industry parlance). Placing renewable energy facilities closer to — perhaps even integrated into — load centers will be a matter of both policy and practicality. It will also be an opportunity to rethink the relationship between our built environments and the sources of the energy upon which we are widely dependent. California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires that 33 percent of retail sales from all utilities, electricity service providers, and community choice aggregators will need to come from renewable energy sources by the end of 2020. A limited amount of the 33 percent will be imported from out-of-state sources or come in the form of Renewable Energy Credits. A more substantial, though still minor, portion will come from continued installation of solar panels on residential rooftops. But it is the large, utility-scale projects, the thousands of wind turbines, and the millions of solar panels that have been placed atop, within, and among California’s mountains, deserts, and farmland that most tangibly and strikingly demonstrate the recent renewables boom and the push to meet the RPS goal. This is not likely to last. The RPS target is among the most ambitious in the country. In 2010, 17 percent of electricity from the three major utilities in California came from RPS-eligible sources. Unless we include in the 2020 totals the projects that have entered into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with utilities but have not yet been built, the RPS target may not be met. This is because it is very hard to build large solar and wind facilities in California. Here’s why: • They are expensive. Total development costs can range into the billions of dollars (and most federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credits are currently scheduled to expire in 2013).

The South Bay led the nation in job growth — 3.2 percent over the past year.

• Lengthy permitting processes typically involve multiple agencies and must address any number of potential environmental effects. Impacts to certain habitats can be especially controversial and mitigation especially expensive. Ask solar developers in the Mojave about that. In the San Joaquin and Antelope Valleys, underutilized farmland often serves as foraging and nesting habitat for protected species. Further, there is mounting pressure from local communities to strengthen efforts to preserve prime farmland. A recent public hearing in Kern County, which impressively rivals Texas in its aspiration to approve renewable energy projects, revealed strong interest in increased rigor in determining which agricultural lands should be off-limits to conversion for any other use, including renewable energy. (continued on next page)

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The display of calling cards from firms offering professional services appears in every issue of Northern News. Fees paid by the firms for this service help defray the costs of this newsletter.

Distributed renewable energy: Plan on it (continued from previous page)

• Produced energy must often be transmitted over long distances. A project that cannot connect to the electrical grid, due to the cost of transmission construction or an inability to obtain necessary easements, is simply not feasible. These challenges — especially the environmental and transmission issues — underscored the rationale for Governor Brown’s Clean Energy Jobs Plan, Released in July 2011, the plan proposes to develop 20,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in California by 2020 and create half a million jobs. (One generated MW is enough electricity to power the instantaneous demand of approximately 750 homes at once.) Of this target, 12,000 MW are to be “localized electricity generation,” defined as “onsite or small energy systems located close to where energy is consumed that can be constructed quickly (without new transmission lines) and typically without any environmental impact.” Under the plan, solar systems of up to 2 MW would be installed on the roofs of warehouses, parking lot structures, schools, and commercial buildings. Solar projects of up to 20 MW would be developed on public and private property throughout the state. The California Energy Commission staff analysis of the Governor’s plan ( assumes that biomass, geothermal, wind, fuel cell, and small hydroelectric technologies could be deployed along with solar energy projects. This is distributed generation of renewable energy. Distributed generation (DG) is distinguished from the “central station” model, in which large-scale power plants are located in a single, often remote, location, and the generated electricity is transmitted over long distances to load centers. With DG, the power is generated near or within the load centers (the urbanized areas). Among the benefits of DG (summarized by Al Weinrub, in “Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California,” are an increased cost-effectiveness (lower environmental and transmission costs, decreased costs of materials), local economic benefits, fewer environmental impacts, shorter development periods than projects requiring new transmission, and increased energy security. Distributed generation of renewable energy also figures into two fairly recent trends in energy and community planning: Smart Grid initiatives and EcoDistricts. • Smart Grid initiatives seek to improve the reliability of the power grid through a variety of measures. PG&E’s Smart Grid Plan ( specifies in-home energy management, demand response, time-of-use pricing, and support of residential rooftop solar installations. • EcoDistricts, as defined by the Portland Sustainability Institute (, are the outcome of a comprehensive strategy to accelerate sustainable development at a neighborhood scale, integrating building and infrastructure with community and individual actions. (continued on next page)

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Distributed renewable energy: Plan on it (continued from previous page)

Locally generated energy is a key component in each of these concepts: it helps stabilize available energy for the Smart Grid and it provides energy autonomy and resilience for EcoDistricts. All of this begs the question: why are we not already seeing widespread DG in California, with rooftop solar on warehouses and districtscale facilities? An oversimplified answer is that it is a regulatory issue. Current net metering arrangements emphasize energy savings, as opposed to establishing a revenue stream for investors. This limits development of rooftop solar mostly to individual residences that are mostly just able to reduce their utility bills. And developers of other DG projects — “wholesale” projects that sell electricity to local utilities — face many of the same risks as developers of large, central station projects, without the benefit of the larger potential return on their investment. The CLEAN Coalition (“Clean Local Energy Accessible Now,” promotes the adoption of programs and policies that address these disincentives to DG. Their approach effectively reframes the notion of the “feed-in tariff,” providing long-term contracts for the sale of energy to electric utilities and creating a more efficient, certain, and transparent process for grid interconnection, while removing substantial barriers to renewable energy development. So, let’s assume that the Governor’s call for 12,000 MW of distributed renewable energy is heeded. Let’s also assume that smart grid initiatives and sustainable neighborhood planning efforts such as EcoDistricts boost the need for, and interest in, distributed renewable energy. And let’s further assume that CLEAN contracts are embraced and the developers of distributed energy are able to realize a reasonable rate of return on their investment, whether a warehouse rooftop solar installation or a 20 MW biomass facility. How might these new energy production facilities near and within urbanized areas affect the built form of our cities and communities? Certainly, incorporating energy-generating capabilities into new and existing structures will meet a portion of the DG goals without substantially altering anything more than a building’s roof or façade. But a wide variety of renewable technologies, with a wide variety of space and structural requirements, will likely be necessary, too, and the characteristics of preferable sites will vary. Issues related to land use, zoning, and community design are therefore likely to arise. The development of any new energy-generating facilities in urbanized areas — even using renewable technology and limiting it to neighborhood or district scale — poses planning-related challenges. These challenges present great opportunity. Historically, many cities included power plants at or near their centers. While presumably an undesirable use today, those still in operation serve as daily reminders of where everyday energy comes from, and some have evolved into good examples of how infrastructure can weave itself into relatively densely populated areas. (continued on next page)

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December 2011/January 2012

Distributed renewable energy: Plan on it (continued from previous page)

Cities and counties will need to be thoughtful in drafting ordinances that allow renewable energy at smaller scales in developed areas. Many jurisdictions have developed or are developing exactly that type of guidance, as summarized by the APA in the PAS Essential Info Packet for Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy, There also may be occasions to design renewable energy-inclusive communities from scratch; one such example is UC Davis’ recently completed West Village community. How, then, can current and future planning documents anticipate the integration of renewable DG into existing urban areas? For example: • What urban design principles could be utilized to facilitate the assimilation of new infrastructure into these areas, or should they be assimilated at all? • Could projects like this figure into economic development plans or climate action plans, and what are the implications for public health? • To what degree should projects, over time, be visible or invisible? And more speculatively: urban design campus planning landscape architecture land planning


• Could a cluster of wind turbines on a community’s periphery function as an informal greenbelt? • Would CLEAN contracts allow for “pop-upâ€? solar on temporarily vacant urban lots? • Will our future parks also be our urban power plants? The Planners Working Group on Energy and the Built Environment is exploring these issues. Along with occasional speaker and panel presentations similar to those made in 2011, the next year will afford opportunities to delve more deeply into topics that are of interest to working group members with the hope that any output produced as the result of this investigation will be of use to the planning community. While the working group has been loosely organized under the auspices of APA California–Northern Section, we welcome the participation and involvement of all interested parties. Josh Hohn is a solar permitting specialist and aesthetics/visual resources planner. He lives and works in Oakland. Comments on this article or inquiries about the Working Group on Energy and the Built Environment can be sent to â–

The problem of electricity surpluses driven by [renewable] power sources whose output cannot be scheduled is emerging around the country. Electricity production and consumption must be matched precisely at all times, and a surplus can cause blackouts just as a shortage can.

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December 2011/January 2012

Urban fabric: Strategies for American cities By Alexis Canter, ASLA; Gina Ford, ASLA; Brie Hensold, Eamonn Hutton, ASLA; and Pontus Lindberg, AICP


espite major reinvestment in urban centers over the past two decades, many formerly vibrant American cities are still struggling to reinvent themselves after the decline of their industrial base. Academics and design practitioners have offered countless interpretations of this trend, often classifying cities into neat categories such as: MegaCities. Shrinking Cities. Rustbelt Cities. Cities of the Future. The Sustainable City. Few have focused on the realm of the “Middle City,” operating somewhere between these definitions, with economies and populations that are leveling out, stagnant. These cities — neither shrinking nor growing — are searching for direction. Should they focus on attracting a new single industry? Should they scale back and shrink smartly? Should they build infrastructure and housing to cater to a commuter population? As designers and planners, our task is to help these cities plot a course, but we rarely get the chance to step back from our projects to investigate the larger social, environmental, and economic factors that influence cities. Last year, Sasaki Associates launched a research project focused on this area of inquiry. The project, called “Urban Fabric,” probed the question: What happens to a city when industry leaves?

Research cities Project Directors Eamonn Hutton and Alexis Canter decided to focus on American cities that participated in the textile industry as prototypes of the broader network of declining industrial centers. Their study explored the social, economic, and environmental conditions of three specific textile cities: Fall River, Massachusetts; Mobile, Alabama; and Newark, New Jersey. Each of these cities participated in the production of textiles in a unique way. Fall River was a booming mill city with four large clusters of mills along the city’s rivers. Newark was home to many of the country’s most skilled producers of synthetic dyes. Mobile was a key port in the global cotton trade. Textile production profoundly impacted the physical and social landscape of these cities — and indeed America as a whole. By the mid-20th Century, following the general trend of industrial migration, textile production largely moved overseas in search of cheaper labor and lower material costs. While unique challenges existed in each of these former textile cities, ranging from contamination to flooding, four common themes connect these diverse economic, urban centers. • First, each of the cities retained disused infrastructure, which continues to present challenges to successful redevelopment. In Fall River, for example, there are 10 million square feet of former textile mills, many of which are vacant or underutilized. (continued on next page) Northern News

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Urban fabric: Strategies for American cities (continued from previous page)

• Second, each of the cities has a strained relationship with its surrounding natural systems — in particular, hydrology. In Mobile, the waterfront has historically been the center of the economy, but storm damage and climate change threaten its long-term sustainability. • Third, social inequities undermine the sense of community, safety, and welfare in the research cities. In Newark, for example, decades of crime and poverty have deterred investment, which, in turn, has exacerbated the situation. • Lastly, the three cities and their workforces still struggle to fill the economic void left by former industries. New employment opportunities rarely offer the same number of jobs that traditional manufacturing provided. As of October, Massachusetts state data shows the unemployment rate in Fall River (12 percent) is nearly twice the state average (6.8 percent). Each city demonstrates the misalignment between 20th Century infrastructure and 21st Century notions of sustainability. In an era of increased emphasis on long-term sustainability, the form of urbanism born out of the textile industry — massive single-use buildings, proximity to water, and free-flowing systems of waste — presents a great challenge for “Middle Cities.”

Exhibitions and Lecture Series Aided by an interdisciplinary team from Sasaki, Hutton and Canter brought together their independent analysis with commentary from academics, practitioners, and policy experts from across the country. The research culminated in an exhibition and lecture series which ran from April 4 to May 6, 2011, at Sasaki’s gallery and attracted hundreds of guests interested in the post-industrial American city.

Opening night of Urban Fabric at Sasaki’s Watertown office. Urban Fabric was on display in Sasaki's San Francisco office from November 3 – December 16. Photo: Mary Lewey, Sasaki

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Urban fabric: Strategies for American cities (continued from previous page)

The lecture series identified new models of practice and discourse to address a changing terrain of urban challenge. Pierre Belanger, of Opsys Design and the Harvard Design School, discussed the challenge of the significant global, urban population living within estuarine conditions in the context of climate change and rising sea levels. Brent Ryan, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture, described the need for new typologies of urban infrastructure, economy, and neighborhood structure within the shrinking American city. Janne Corneil, an urban designer and Principal at Sasaki, described the role of innovative, academic, and public partnerships in new forms of city making.

Photos of the exhibit, digital copies of the content and videos of the lectures are available at the project website:

Strategies In response to the challenges outlined in the research, and in addition to the precedents discussed in the lecture series, the Urban Fabric project presented a selection of case studies that serve as successful strategies for positive change in America’s “Middle Cities.” Addressing a variety of scale — from the multinational to the site-specific — these strategies are examples of successful policy, planning, and design initiatives from around the world that transform the challenges of industrial urbanism into sustainable trajectories for the future. For example, the Rubbertown Corridor Economic Development Strategy — conducted by Philadelphia’s Interface Studio for Rubbertown, Kentucky — brought together private chemical industries, metro-area governments, and residents to alleviate the friction between residents and nearby industries caused by environmental contamination. The study’s goals include improving the quality of life for residents, while exploring opportunities for local manufacturers to introduce sustainable practices and increase their long-term competitiveness. Although they often differ in both scale and project scope, the case studies illustrate how solutions need to combine innovative partnerships, political capital, system wide thinking, and the transformative power of design.

The problem with San Francisco’s skyline is that it’s been shaped by politics as much as sensible urban planning. It’s the reason The City has so few beautiful new buildings and even fewer signature ones. —Ken Garcia,

Research in practice While common issues occur across these cities, there is no single solution that can be applied uniformly. Planners, designers, policymakers, and community members need to work together to create a comprehensive strategy that addresses the range of issues these cities confront. The Urban Fabric research and exhibit foster discussion

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Urban fabric: Strategies for American cities (continued from previous page)

and dialogue, search for common themes, explore applied strategies, and, most importantly, begin to frame the problem. Common among many of the case studies was the effort to create new partnerships in order to shape compromise, develop funding, and enact change, such as the collaboration at Rubbertown. In a world of increasingly tight financial and environmental resources (and more active public engagement), partnerships play a key role in professional practice. As we work, we’re learning with cities that successful transformation is often the result of partnerships that allow regional collaboration or engage citizens and businesses in revitalization. Urban Fabric gave our office the opportunity to create new intellectual partnerships with academics and other practitioners, and we look forward to keeping this dialog open. The authors are practitioners at Sasaki’s Watertown and San Francisco offices. ■

Where in the world?

Calling card advertisements support the Northern News. For more information on placing a calling card announcement and to receive format specifications, contact: Scott Davidson, AICP, Advertising Director (510) 697-2280

Photo by Ella Samonsky (Answer on page 18)

Over the next 30 years, San Francisco should absorb a big share of future growth. Where better to add a large portion of the region’s projected 770,000 new housing units and 1 million new jobs than in walkable urban areas where residents have access to sustainable transportation? —SPUR,

Northern News 11 December 2011/January 2012

The once and future General Plan

Call for Nominations 2012 APA – California Northern Section Awards

(continued from page 1)

As the spectrum of topics has grown, general plans have drifted from their original mission (not necessarily a bad thing). We have more holistic plans that recognize the interconnected nature of development issues. But where do we stop? Among the topics now addressed in general plans are juvenile justice, educational quality, and health care. Venturing into such subjects puts planners in the position of drafting policies they cannot implement. More significantly, subject creep has led to extremely long plans. It is not uncommon today to find general plans that exceed 1,000 pages or consist of multiple volumes. Their bulk reduces their utility and accessibility. The answer is not to stop planning for these topics, but rather to recognize that the general plan may not be the best place for them. The general plan should not become the clichéd kitchen sink for every municipal policy document.

Now is the time to think about those plans, projects, and programs that you want to celebrate! An application form and submission details are provided at Applications are due Friday, March 16, 2012. We invite you to apply for an award in one of the categories below:

3. Evolution of the map. The general plan diagram was conceived during an era of colored pencils and press-on letters. It was intended to be interpreted broadly and designed to be legible on an 8.5 x 11 page or a foldout. Even our General Plan Guidelines emphasize the generalized nature of plan diagrams and their intent as a foundation for more detailed zoning maps. GIS has made general plan diagrams precise, to the point they effectively have become zoning maps. Designations are snapped to parcel lines, reducing any element of uncertainty. This is magnified (figuratively and literally) through online PDF files that enable Internet users to zoom in on their properties. The response of some general plans has been to develop a new family of diagrams to convey the big picture in a way the old plan map no longer can. These plans feature “change maps” which highlight areas that will grow and areas that will stay the same, and “strategy diagrams” that illustrate future city form. Such maps complement the general map nicely, and can communicate the plan’s intent in a more understandable way.

Outstanding Planning Awards • Comprehensive Planning • Planning Implementation • Planning Project • Innovation in Green Community Planning • Focused Issue • Best Practices • Grassroots Initiative • Neighborhood Planning Distinguished Leadership and Service Awards • Distinguished Leadership • Distinguished Service Planner Emeritus Network Honor Awards Planning Achievement Awards • Advocacy/Social Change/Diversity Planning • Contribution to Women and Families • Education Project • Academic Award Journalism and Media Awards Environmental Awards The Awards will be presented on Friday, May 11, 2012. Please contact Awards Co-Directors Eileen Whitty at or Andrea Ouse at for more information. ■

Worth a look: Seattle Comp Plan 2011, short video, 6:30. (Set to HD and go full screen.)

4. Telescoping geography. General plans in California’s counties and larger cities cover vast geographic areas. Plans covering the entire jurisdiction are often so broad that they do not provide enough detail to guide localized decisions. These jurisdictions may resort to multiple geographic tiers in their plans, telescoping from the city (or county) to planning areas (which in aggregate comprise the entire jurisdiction) or to “focus areas” which may comprise just a few large parcels. For example, Fremont’s new plan contains a 200-page “Community Plan Element” which divides the 90 square mile city into 11 subareas. Each subarea is profiled in the Element, and place-based policies are provided. Within each subarea, smaller “special study areas” are discussed. A benefit of this approach is that it provides a framework for existing area plans and a context for future area plans. It also helps make the plan more meaningful for residents. The downside is that the plan can become overly specific and lengthy. 5. Fiscal distress. The framework for the modern general plan was established long before fiscal crises gripped local governments. There

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Job ads update

The once and future General Plan

Northern News is no longer publishing job ads. Instead, as a free service to its members, APA California Northern Section is posting relevant job ads via the LinkedIn APA Northern Group, We will also continue to feature job ads on our website, All job ad postings are free of charge.

even was a time when federal grants were provided for preparing general plans. Even as resources shriveled, the cost of doing a general plan ballooned. One to two million dollar price tags are now common in mid- and large-sized cities. Fiscal distress has impacted general plan practice in several ways. More communities are deferring their plan updates, treating the plan’s horizon year as the target for updates rather than updating on a five- or ten-year cycle. Others are doing “housekeeping” updates which simply edit baseline data and projections while carrying existing policies forward. Cities are also seeking creative ways to conduct their plan updates. Some are preparing their plans in-house or hiring limited-duration contract planners. Others are hiring consultants — not to write their plans, but to train staff in plan writing and procedure.

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Public agencies and private companies wishing to advertise employment opportunities to members of the planning, environmental, and related professions should complete the form at Employers may also submit their ad copy to Darcy Kremin, AICP, at ■

MTC’s cost-benefit analysis confirmed that the benefits of BART to Silicon Valley heavily outweigh its considerable costs, and it performs extremely well on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transportation costs. —Sam Liccardo,

6. The role of CEQA. When it comes to general plans, CEQA often feels like the tail wagging the dog. The EIR routinely consumes a larger share of the budget than the plan itself, and its findings can become the primary focus of the general plan effort. At best, CEQA provides technical rigor and gives plans a strong, defensible factual basis. At worst, it takes the imagination out of planning and shifts the focus to a series of baffling analytical and legal machinations. Traffic modeling is the biggest culprit. We build, run, and tweak the model, and run it repeatedly, relying on tenuous assumptions to reach conclusions that will shape countless future decisions. Air quality, greenhouse gas analyses, and noise studies bring more black boxes to the mix. This volleys the conversation away from planners and into the court of engineers, scientists, and attorneys. The shift has become more pronounced since the advent of climate change legislation and new air quality rules. The answer is not to abandon general plan EIRs or to diminish the role of CEQA. However, we should make sure the Plan drives the EIR and not vice versa. 7. RHNA, RHNA, RHNA. The last decade has seen ascendance of the housing element as a driver of the general plan update. Housing— always the oddball element—must be certified by the State, updated on a regular schedule, and structured to satisfy a rigorous checklist. The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process, along with other legislative requirements, has pushed this element even further to the fringe. For many communities, preparing a housing element has become a high-stakes game with HCD. Cities and counties pursue their certification letter with vigor, offering excruciating detail on obscure topics to satisfy State reviewers. This single element has become almost as lengthy as all other elements of the General Plan combined. Worse, cities concoct policies and actions that may not reflect local context. The fundamental role of the general plan as a broad “constitution” for development has given way to the ordinance-like quality of this element. The upside is that the Housing Element keeps local governments on their toes. The RHNA process compels cities to address social equity and smart growth, and to maintain a regional perspective as they plan. Additional flexibility at the State level would improve the process and enable more realistic housing solutions. (continued on next page)

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December 2011/January 2012

The once and future General Plan

OBITUARY—Al Boeke, Sea Ranch developer, 88

(continued from previous page)

While flying along the Sonoma Coast 100 miles north of San Francisco in 1962, architect and planner Al Boeke envisioned a residential community that would blend with and preserve the area’s natural beauty. A year later, as vice president of planning and development for Oceanic Properties (a division of Castle & Cooke, a real estate entity of the Dole Food Company), Mr. Boeke purchased the land and assembled a design team. Principal designers included Bay Area architects Charles Moore, Joseph Esherick, William Turnbull, Jr., and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. Their vision led to the development of Sea Ranch, founded in 1965. Sea Ranch now has a population of 1,305 (2010 Census) and just over 1,800 homes, including one owned by Mr. Boeke. He died there on Nov. 8. Alfred A. Boeke was born in Denver, Nov. 20, 1922. His family moved to California, and he received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Southern California in 1948. See Dennis Hevesi, “Al Boeke, architect who sought ecological harmony,” The New York Times, Nov. 16, 2011, Also see Wikipedia, “Sea Ranch, California,” ■

To suggest that redistricting can ever be entirely divorced from politics is overselling the case. Death, taxes, and lawsuits in redistricting are the only things certain in life. —Keesha Gaskins, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU.

8. Measuring progress. Measurement has always been an essential part of shorter-range strategic planning. It has had less of a role in comprehensive planning, which focuses on long-term, intangible outcomes. A number of factors have brought the two closer together, with general plans now placing more emphasis on measurable results. The Housing Element, for example, requires quantified objectives for production and assistance. Greenhouse gas emissions measurements, solid waste diversion rates, VMT reduction, and walkability scores have also found their way into plans. Public demand for government accountability is driving the demand for measurement, and has given rise to “scorecards,” budgets, and capital improvement programs within plan documents. 9. Bye bye LOS. For years, roadway level of service (LOS) provided the basis for land use choices, transportation plans, growth management strategies, and capital improvement programs. LOS was the undisputed benchmark for determining how much growth a city could support and where it should occur. Today, planners and elected officials are rejecting LOS or replacing it with new benchmarks that recognize more than vehicle speed and delay. Standards are being developed to consider transit, bicycle, and pedestrian trips, with the goal of creating multi-modal transportation systems. Where this brave new world of transportation planning will lead us is still unclear. 10. Public input. Rounding out the top 10 is the changing concept of public input in the planning process. Input used to be solicited through newspaper-advertised town hall meetings. It is hard to attract participants to such meetings today, and planning meetings are often populated by (affectionately) “the usual suspects.” When we do attract a crowd, participants are focused on their short-term needs. Rarely are they willing to ponder what their city should be like in 20 years. Meanwhile, the Internet and social media are revolutionizing public participation, reaching audiences that public workshops never could. Commission meetings can be streamed at any time of the day or night. Input is provided through online surveys, links to general plan websites, blogs, and tweets. General plan updates have their own Facebook pages and YouTube videos. Planning has become accessible to everyone, giving planners a unique opportunity to educate and learn at the same time. We’ve only just begun to explore the limitless opportunities. WHAT’S NEXT? Even with all the above, the general plan framework created four decades ago has been remarkably resilient. The legislation of the 1970s gave us great latitude in plan drafting and organization. This flexibility has also allowed cities and counties to adapt their plans to changing times and evolving priorities. Where we go next is another question and perhaps the topic for another article. Updating the General Plan Guidelines is an important first step. At the same time, we should start rethinking the template we’ve been using for the last four decades. In doing so, we can put California back on the cutting edge of national best practices and ultimately allow planners to better serve their communities. Barry Miller, AICP, is a planning consultant in Oakland. He can be reached at ■

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December 2011/January 2012

Mentorship program starts its second year in February Application deadline is January 6 By Emy Mendoza


atching young planners with experienced professionals, APA California Northern’s Mentorship Program offers professional development through networking, the exchange of professional ideas, and guidance to young planners. In 2011, the program matched 25 young planners with 14 mentors. The mentees and mentors participated in outings, meetings, coffee talks, planning events, periodic phone calls, and emails. Following the successful completion of its introductory year, the Northern Section mentorship program is accepting new applications from mentors and mentees for a second year. While students, young planners, and experienced planners in Northern California are constrained by busy schedules and geographic limitations, the feedback we received is that all parties learned a lot, and that we have generous, savvy planners in our area. One young planner, when asked what she felt was most helpful, said, “My mentor answered my questions patiently, and openly shared information about his experiences. He helped me prepare for interviews, and provided me with full access to his network. For someone first starting out in planning during a tough time, the support and wisdom that I gained from working with my mentor helped me navigate the job search process with more confidence.” When asked if there was anything she would suggest to mentees considering this program, she said, “Do it! The mentoring program is a partnership that will benefit you and your mentor in many ways. Make sure you’re prepared to be an active participant in the process: prepare questions for your mentor, share your insights gained through recent

education or work experiences, and help the mentor stay on top of what’s fresh in the field.” While the organizing committee tried as much as possible to match mentors to mentees based on areas of interest, we heard that in a few cases mentors and mentees did not “click,” or that it was difficult for mentors or mentees to carve out time to visit different parts of the Bay Area. When surveyed, however, the vast majority of participants said the program met many or all of their expectations. The organizing committee has made some changes for 2012 based on feedback from our first year participants. This year’s application process will allow mentor and mentee applicants to prioritize either shared area of interest or geographic proximity. To foster sustaining relationships and allow for flexibility in scheduling, the session will be a yearlong program (the first year ran only from January through August). Events to bring mentors and mentees together will be planned throughout the year. We hope to have more mentors in 2012 to offer 1:1 mentor relationships when possible. One of our mentors said, “I am really enjoying the opportunity to share my 35+ years of experience with a younger planner, and I’m encouraged that she seems to have the passion for creating positive change in the environment.” We hope you will join us for this adventure. Mentor and mentee applications, available on our website at are due January 6, 2012. Details will be announced soon for a kick-off event early in February. ■

A bright lime green bicycle lane on Spring Street is aimed at reducing collisions and helping cyclists feel safer on their north-south commute through downtown Los Angeles.

Northern News


December 2011/January 2012

Reinventing the GP—worth a look At a meeting in Cambria, California, in July 2008, members of the California Planning Roundtable discussed how they might encourage the state of California to begin its mandated redrafting of the General Plan Guidelines — something the state has failed to do thus far. Perhaps the Roundtable could assist the state in updating the guidelines, or even draft new guidelines with or without the state’s cooperation. From that discussion three years ago, a product and an ongoing process evolved to guide communities in better ways to prepare general plans. California communities are facing crises on many fronts, including climate change, financially strapped governments, congestion, unaffordable housing, and job loss. The general plan is the single best tool to help communities tackle these issues in a comprehensive way. But the General Plan is too often costly, complex, and ineffective. Supported by APA California, the California Planning Roundtable has undertaken to “reinvent the general plan” and revitalize it as an essential tool to help California communities tackle 21st century issues. You can see an online “incubator” that highlights the most innovative, exciting, and reproducible features of six general plans at Reinventing the General Plan delves into these plans, pinpointing their most innovative and compelling features. Links direct users to exemplary maps, images, text, and ideas. Ultimately, the incubator is a place where individuals and communities can find specific guidance to transform their

thinking and help them produce general plans that achieve better vision, communication, and action. The Roundtable recommends that cities and counties follow 10 principles in updating their general plans: 1. Create a vision. 2. Manage change. 3. Make life better. 4. Build community identity. 5. Promote social equity and economic prosperity. 6. Steward and enhance the environment. 7. Engage the whole community. 8. Look beyond local boundaries. 9. Prioritize action. 10. Be universally attainable. These principles are fleshed out on the website, followed by a presentation of the best aspects of six general plans. Featured thus far are the general plans of the cities of Sunnyvale, Ontario, San Diego, Sacramento, and Truckee, and the county of Marin. Readers can search the models for specific tags such as climate change, graphics, or web strategies. Users are invited to submit other examples of outstanding plans or those with unique groundbreaking elements. To ask about Reinventing the General Plan or to submit a model, contact the Reinventing the General Plan team at ■

Governor Brown on high-speed rail: “You can't make an omelet unless you break the egg. I want to see the first segment completed in short order. You can’t build something like this in one jump. We have the first step paid down. We’re in for a rough ride for the next couple of years in terms of the budget, but we’re going to promote investments in the state; they’re crucial.”

Northern News

16 December 2011/January 2012

Plan-it sustainably Summarized by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, and Katja Irvin, AICP, co-chairs, Sustainability Committee (Source:

Got LEED for Transportation? Try STARS As state departments of transportation, cities, counties, and private employers increasingly account for their transportation sustainability efforts, they need practical assessment tools to evaluate program performance. Such tools should also encourage the use of higher standards, improve access and mobility, reduce energy use, and decrease pollution that causes climate change. In the same way that the voluntary performance standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program have improved the building industry, a new tool, the Sustainable Transportation Analysis & Rating System (STARS), can help transportation program managers improve their performance in the areas where transportation has the greatest impacts: access, climate, energy, and cost. Under the auspices of the City of Portland and the newly launched North American Sustainable Transportation Council (STC), a team of public and private sector transportation professionals from the Pacific Northwest is developing the STARS framework to complement LEED. The inclusion of appropriate LEED sustainable sites credits, specifically those related to transportation, and the use of a similar checklist format are strategies toward this end. Since buildings and transportation create approximately two-thirds of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, the use of LEED and STARS would allow both building designers and transit operators to address the major sources of climate changing pollution. The development team is designing STARS to help transportation professionals plan and/or evaluate the full life cycle of their efforts. STARS will allow transportation professionals to compare the triple-bottom-line performance impacts of their projects, programs, and plans using a national best practices standard. They can then decide whether to seek platinum, gold, silver, or bronze performance levels. STARS will allow users to: • Evaluate the purpose of a transportation project or plan (e.g., to give people access to jobs, education, and other daily needs), • Evaluate and prioritize innovative alternatives in the design phase, and • Measure and improve system performance in ongoing operations and maintenance phases. The STARS tool measures other variables, such as a project’s ecological function and integration of planning, but its primary emphasis is on access, climate, energy, and benefit/cost. STARS can be used to analyze a full range of realistic options to meet access and mobility goals, including transportation demand management (TDM), transportation systems management (TSM), transit, land use, and roadway capacity. As it includes a strategic sustainability component,

STARS rewards those willing to set goals, evaluate a range of options, and consider different operational strategies during planning. STARS is being pilot tested on a transit corridor project (Clark County, Washington), a City Transportation System Plan (Eugene, Oregon) and a Regional Transportation Plan (Santa Cruz County, CA). STARS is being used to develop, evaluate, and rate strategies to: • Improve access to jobs, school, housing and goods; • Reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions; • Boost the local economy while reducing transportation capital and operating costs; and • Improve public support for projects and plans that provide both economic and environmental benefits. By identifying key access, mobility, cost, and sustainability opportunities at the planning, project, and employer levels, the STARS rating system can help those involved in transportation planning, project management and operations set clear higher-performance goals and measure success. Following the pilot phase, peer review, and development of certification and training programs, the STC plans a national rollout of STARS in 2012. For more information, contact Peter Hurley, PDOT Project Manager, at or (503) 823-5007 or review the temporary website at Also see the results of the recent Bay Area workshop co-hosted by the Sustainability Committee and STC,

Committee update • Explore the committee’s temporary website, • Access strategic community sustainability planning resources: • Oct. 14th Workshop, • 30-min. video, (enter your name in the guest field) • STARS Sustainable Transportation Dec 8th Workshop, • Review Leveraging Leading Edge Sustainability Planning (site,; report, • Sign up for the Committee’s email list. Email

Recommended Resources The EcoDistrict Institute and its initiatives are one of the leadingedge innovations in neighborhood-level sustainability. Review their approach and resources for transferable practices: The Institute, at

Northern News 17 December 2011/January 2012

(continued on next page)

Plan-it Sustainably

Who’s where

(continued from previous page), and the Summit (this past Oct. 26–28) at “Embedding Sustainability into the Culture of Government,” a new report from the Network for Business Sustainability, The Natural Step Canada, and the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, is available at Since Getting off Oil ASAP is the basis for any longterm community sustainability strategy, see Amory Lovins’ and the Rocky Mountain Institute’s new proposal to do just that and grow the US economy by 150 percent: Reinventing Fire,

Darcy Kremin, AICP, has joined the Oakland office of URS Corporation as Environmental Planning Group Manager. She previously worked at Cardno ENTRIX managing the CEQA and NEPA process for large water infrastructure projects. At URS, she is managing the NEPA for FEMA group within the Environmental Planning Division. Darcy has a bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies (UCLA) and a master’s degree in environmental policy (Tufts University). She is the Northern Section’s Immediate Past Director and a newly elected member of the California Planning Foundation board. Rodrigo Orduña, AICP, has been appointed Membership Director for Northern Section. Orduña is a senior planner in the Alameda County Planning Department. He holds two degrees from UC Berkeley: a bachelor of arts degree in architecture with a minor in city planning, and a master’s in city planning with a concentration in urban design.

Rio+20 — the impact of rapid urbanization on the sustainable growth of cities, one of the seven priority issues. (Newsletter:; Rio+20 website: ■

Answer to “Where in the world?” (Page 11) Ghent, Belgium: The Graslei (street of the herbs) in the old city center. To the right is the Sint-Michielsbrug (St. Michael’s Bridge). Two of the three towers of Ghent (and a sliver of the third) can be seen. Photo by Ella Samonsky

Efficient movement of people and goods is fundamental to the state’s economy and quality of life, and doing nothing in the face of an exponentially growing population is not an option. —California High-speed Rail Authority,

Avalon Schultz has been appointed the new YPG Co-Chair for Northern Section. Schulz is associate planner, Union City. She has a bachelor’s degree in comparative urban development with a minor in city and regional planning (UC Berkeley) and is a candidate for a master’s degree in urban planning (San José State University). Schultz was named Union City Employee of the Year – General Government in 2010, and received a California Planning Foundation Continuing Student Scholarship, 2011–2012. Laura Thompson has been elected Treasurer for APA California Northern Section. She has been a member of the American Planning Association since 1995 and affiliated with the Northern Section since 1997. In 2005, she served as co-chair of the Mobile Workshop Committee for the National APA Conference in San Francisco. Laura is currently manager of the San Francisco Bay Trail Project at the Association of Bay Area Governments, where she coordinates completion of the 500-mile trail system through strategic planning, financial management, staff supervision, partnership building, and public outreach. Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Miami University in Ohio and a master’s in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She coauthored the book Trail Planning for California Communities (Solano Press, 2009). Trail Planning received the APA California Award of Merit for Focused Issue Planning, the Northern Section Media Award, and was named the AEP Outstanding Environmental Resources Document for 2010. ■

Northern News


December 2011/January 2012

HSR notes

By Janet Palma, AICP

These are difficult economic times, and a transportation project whose projected costs have escalated since 2008 to $98.5 billion is being scrutinized deservedly. As the California legislature gears up to vote on whether to release the bond money for high-speed rail to move forward, the High-Speed Rail Authority finds itself pitted against Congressional Republicans who want to rescind federal funds and a Palo Alto-based group, Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD). CARRD and Analyst Farra Bracht of the Legislative Analyst’s Office noted it was “unclear if the business plan satisfied the requirements of Proposition 1A.” The proposition stipulated that all environmental reviews for the rail line’s first usable segment be completed before beginning construction. Governor Jerry Brown and the U.S. Department of Transportation remain strong supporters of the nation’s currently largest public infrastructure project. USDOT Secretary LaHood noted, “California’s population will grow by 60 percent over the next 40 years. [California’s population is projected to increase to 54,000,000 by 2040.] Investing in a green, job creating high-speed rail network is less expensive and more practical than paying for all of the expansions to already congested highways and airports that would be necessary to accommodate the state’s projected population boom.” Not to be ignored are the impacts to communities along the Central Valley first segment and the objections of several Peninsula cities. The Los Angeles Times (October 22) noted, “For years the train’s path was somewhat vague, but in August the authority released 70,000 pages of environmental impact reports that detail potential routes through the Central Valley.” Although the net gain in jobs is significant — and important to The Valley — portions of California Highway 99 would need to be relocated, along with churches, schools, homes, warehouses, banks, factories, farms, and apartment buildings. In 2009, the CHSRA dropped Pacheco Pass as the preferred route for the Central Valley-Bay Area segment in favor of the Peninsula corridor. The peninsula alignment seemed the better choice, with fewer habitat impacts and the ability to follow an existing rail line. Thus CARRD’s concerns appeared to be just a case of NIMBY until two things happened. A major two-train collision in China on

July 23 (40 people died) heightened concerns here about trains running at 220 mph through major urban areas. Separately, the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), a powerful rail firm and a major political contributor, objected to the use of its rail lines for HSR based on safety and impacts on freight operations. ( The CHSRA received supportive comments from BNSF railway whose property the trains would also use. In addition, the required relocation of the Monterey Highway raised concerns about the adequacy of the environmental review. On November 10, a Sacramento judge ruled that the Authority had to reopen and revise its environmental analysis of that part of the line. The segmented construction plan has some worried that only the initial segment will be financed, resulting in an Amtrak upgrade, but nothing else. Of those who are pushing ahead with construction of the first segment, “What they are hoping,” said Richard White, a Stanford University history professor, “is that this will be to high-speed rail what Vietnam was to foreign policy: that once you’re in there, you have to get in deeper.” The latest CHSR business plan says the project will generate an operating profit and will not need to rely on government funding. (Most foreign high-speed rail lines are profitable on an annual basis.) Most regional transportation programs and projects rely on segmented construction and future funding, and costs change over time. Eric Jaffe looks back 200 years (Atlantic Cities, Nov. 1) to conclude, “The history of America’s first-generation rail system offers hope to those wondering whether its next-generation system will ever arrive… Boston’s decision to create a three-line railroad system at a time when several cities wanted canals has a few parallels to California’s current situation… In the end Boston investors built short segments, roughly 40 miles long, which served as proof of the technology. That’s why the California authority’s decision to operate completed sections independently augers well for the project as a whole.” Other important milestones in American history have garnered controversy but ultimately were found necessary for the greater common good. We all have agendas; we all believe our view is the correct one. Clearly, many issues need to be worked out; many are coming to a head. We must continue to weigh the pros and cons of California’s HSR project so as to make the right decision for all Californians. (continued on next page)

Northern News


December 2011/January 2012

HRS notes (continued from previous page) Below are excerpts from other articles from beyond our state border.

a railway between Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit.” —Keith Laing, “Sen. Kirk: High-speed rail should be limited to short distances,” The Hill, Nov. 8, 2011.

HSR is very green compared to the alternatives

High speed rail draws enemies naturally

“It seems entirely reasonable that the California [high-speed rail] line will eventually offset the environmental damage caused by its construction, and then some. [While] it’s fair to wonder whether the environmental benefits of high-speed rail are worth its considerable cost, it’s important to keep in mind that high-speed rail systems aren’t constructed in a vacuum. Consider the environmental impact that would occur if California ditches its rail plan and instead constructs enough roads and railways to accommodate its current culture of air and highway travel. At its current pace, the state’s department of transportation will spend around $286 billion, largely on road projects, over the same period it plans to build the high-speed rail line.” —Eric Jaffe, “How green is high-speed rail?” The Atlantic Cities, Nov. 15, 2011. “Perhaps the hardest type of land use to get approved is a ‘Linear Land Use.’ That is any project that is long, narrow and passes through many communities — high speed rail, oil-and gas-pipelines, and electric transmission lines, for example. Linear Land Use projects have all of the negatives of a single-site proposal and few of the positives. They attract NIMBYs, environmentalists, and historic preservationists, and the builders are hard pressed to identify meaningful economic benefits that any one community along the route will receive. Most Linear Land Use Projects benefit someone else other than the community they intersect. So NIMBYs turn out to fight. The phenomenon is illustrated in the Saint Index results concerning a rail project: people are opposed if the train won’t stop in their town, but more support such a project if it includes a local station.” —Patrick Fox, The Saint Index: United States, 2011.

California HSR too long; Milwaukee-Chicago just right “President Obama’s high-speed rail initiative should have focused on short-distance routes, the Republican who took the president’s old Senate seat said Nov. 8. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said he is ‘one of the few Republicans who really supports high-speed rail.’ But Kirk said ‘The technology is appropriate for 300 miles or less,’ referencing a proposal for

Janet Palma, MS, AICP, works in Environmental Health Services for the San Francisco Department of Public Health and is Principal at J. Palma & Associates, an environmental planning concern. The author, as a sub-subcontractor to URS Corporation, has been working on visual resources for the Fresno to Palmdale sections of the proposed high-speed rail line. ■

That California High Speed Rail cost estimates tripled to the $100 billion range reinforces that Florida made the right decision to protect taxpayers from this sort of boondoggle. High-speed rail would be far too costly to taxpayers, and the risk far outweighs the benefits. —Florida Gov. Rick Scott,

Northern News


December 2011/January 2012

Clean Energy showcase


he City of San José Environmental Service Department and APA California Northern hosted an afternoon tour of the Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase October 13th. Twenty planners joined the tour, which provided immediate access to the most cutting-edge energy innovations on the market. Participants had a hands-on opportunity to experience various solar, wind, and energy efficient technologies, and they received information on how San José is facilitating solar installations through its zoning ordinance. Highlights of the tour included an LED streetlight powered by wind turbine, photovoltaic module, and battery storage, and a walkthrough of an energy-efficient Eco-Home that was built onsite. For more information, visit

Technology borrows from nature: honeycomb, grid-tied, lightweight SolarClover photovoltaic array by Armageddon Energy.

All photos are by Juan Borrelli, AICP.

Modular Eco Home with energy efficient technologies by Silicon Valley Energy Watch and New Avenue Homes.

Arbor solar seating system: an off-grid thin film photovoltaic shading structure with interactive element. City of San José design competition submittal by SJSU students using QCell technology.

Off-grid micro-concentrating solar power collector by Sopogy. ■

Northern News


December 2011/January 2012

Norcal roundup News briefs compiled by Erik Balsley, AICP, Associate Editor State’s 21st century demographics more like the distant past

Google ‘affordable Mountain View’ “Google has recently become a significant investor in large, new affordable housing construction projects in Boston, Des Moines, and other cities. The Internet giant is now helping to finance affordable housing closer to home, investing roughly one-quarter of the development cost of a $23.5 million, 51-unit rental development that is under construction on Franklin Street near downtown Mountain View. ‘There are tax advantages, but it’s the same as anybody else who is investing in low-income housing,’ said a Google spokesman. ‘It’s a chance to make a smart investment, with good returns on a quality project, one that also creates housing options as well as jobs for low- and moderate-income people.’ The Franklin Street Family Apartments are intended to be … environmentally friendly, featuring sustainable building methods and solar panels. The one- to three-bedroom rental apartments will be available to families that earn 50 percent or less of the median household income in Santa Clara County. When the complex opens in spring 2013, rents are expected to range from $549 to $1,291 a month.” —Mike Swift, The Mercury News, Dec. 6, 2011.

Land preservation continues to grow “Land trust advocates are pointing to a recently released survey as proof that land conservation easements are a successful way for ranchers and farmers to preserve their land. The National Land Trust Census [released Nov. 2011] found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, with more than 2.3 million acres in California. Representatives of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust said the greatest percentage comes through local and state land trusts. The nonprofit has conserved more than 15,000 acres of coastal and rural lands since 2000 and expects to increase that amount by nearly 30,000 by the end of 2013. Currently, landowners who donate a qualified conservation easement are allowed to deduct the fair market value of the easement. The enhanced tax incentive for conservation easements first passed in 2006. North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson has co-sponsored a bill to make the incentive permanent.” —Donna Tom, “Survey: Land trusts see 27 percent increase in five years; land Trust Alliance releases new survey on land trust growth,” The TimesStandard, Dec. 4, 2011.

Northern News

“Recent census figures show that California is losing more people than it is attracting from other parts of the U.S. Since at least 2005, more residents have left California than arrived here from other states. The decade measured by the most recent census was the first in a century in which the majority of Californians were native-born. The demographics of California today more closely resemble those of 1900 than of 1950: It is a mostly home-grown population, whose future depends on the children of immigrants and their children. It was different in the 1950s and 60s, when roughly half of Californians were drawn from other states. Since 2000, the state’s once-growing immigrant population has been frozen at 27 percent of total residents.” —Gale Holland and Sam Quinones, “California demographic shift: More people leaving than moving in,” The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30, 2011.

Napa grows its VINE “Public transit in the Napa Valley is preparing a relaunch with a virtually all-new fleet of buses, a more convenient VINE [the County’s fixed-route bus system] schedule, and a new transit center. Over the past two and a half years, the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency has received [funding] to buy 38 new vehicles, the last of which will arrive in a year or two. [By then,] the agency will have replaced nearly all of the VINE’s aging buses with a modern fleet with cleaner emissions. The changes should boost ridership after recent declines.” —Kevin Courtney, “Public transit in the Napa Valley undergoing fleet makeover,” The Napa Valley Register, Nov. 20, 2011.

How green depends on the math “Based on a new analysis by Mayor Edwin M. Lee’s environmental office, San Francisco has cut carbon emissions by 12 percent since 1990. But some experts have raised questions about the city’s calculations. Lee and his advisers say the main driver of carbon emission reductions was the closing of power plants at Hunters Point (continued on next page)

22 December 2011/January 2012

Norcal roundup (continued from previous page) in 2006 and in the Potrero neighborhood in 2010. Closing the power plants did cut air pollution, including carbon emissions, in the plants’ southeastern neighborhoods. But some environmentalists say the air pollution has merely been shifted to new areas, like Pittsburg. The Bay Citizen analyzed the city’s data assuming that the electricity used by PG&E customers in San Francisco comes from the utility company’s grid, not directly from specific plants. Results from that technique show that San Francisco reduced its carbon emissions by 2.7 percent from 1990 to 2010.” —John Upton, “San Francisco’s Green Energy Claims Questioned,” The Bay Citizen, Nov. 19, 2011.

Skyscraper versus sun Columnist Ken Garcia identifies one of the reasons he believes San Francisco is in an “architectural backwater. The City’s landscape has been impacted less by architectural design than neighborhood activism,” he says, pointing to the environmental assessment for the Transbay Tower. The assessment “had barely been issued before critics sounded off, though not for reasons aesthetic or conceptual,” but for “public access to sunlight in parks.” To Garcia, this demonstrates “the problem with San Francisco’s skyline is that it’s been shaped by politics as much as sensible urban planning. It’s the reason why The City has so few beautiful new buildings. Marc Goldstein, designer of the Bank of America Building, notes, ‘One of the problems with San Francisco — at least architecturally — is that it’s a tremendously democratic city. And one of the reasons there’s so much mediocre architecture is that there’s so much mediocre opinion.’” Garcia concludes, “Rules regarding light and parks are tools for planners, not a wall to be used as resistance.”— Ken Garcia, “For San Francisco democracy, the skyline’s the limit,” The San Francisco Examiner, Oct. 30, 2011.

California cities among those with the most underwater mortgages “Nationwide, one in four homeowners with a mortgage — 11 million households — has an underwater mortgage. The problem is even worse in some areas of the country.” Of the 10 cities identified by 24/7 Wall St. with the most underwater mortgages, four are in California. “In the U.S., just fewer than 15 percent of homes were built in the last 10 years. But in some of the cities on the list of highest underwater mortgages, that number is 25 percent and

Northern News

higher. To make matters worse, the employment situation in these metropolitan areas is in worse shape than in most of the country. This is partially the result of a once-booming construction industry that has since collapsed.” —Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale, “The American Cities Sunk by Underwater Mortgages,” 24/7 Wall Street, Oct. 28, 2011.

California initiates market for carbon “Fifteen months after a similar effort died in Congress, California regulators adopted a system for combating climate change that sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions and creates market incentives to encourage oil refineries, electricity generators, and other polluters to clean up their plants. The plan will take effect in 2013 and arises from trailblazing legislation signed in 2006 by Arnold Schwarzenegger requiring California to develop regulations that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The air regulators have been working to devise an efficient system that will avoid problems that have dogged the European carbon market. ‘The beauty of the California program is that it allows offsets from anywhere in the United States,’” —Felicity Barringer, “California Adopts Limits on Greenhouse Gases,” The New York Times, Oct. 20, 2011.

Planners showcase sustainability “San Jose’s Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase isn’t just for kids. Across the street from city hall, 16 solar, wind turbine, and electric vehicle technologies from mostly South Bay cleantech companies are on display. The lot is meant to be a hands-on educational experience, breaking down barriers to clean-energy technologies. The only such clean-energy showcase in the U.S. available to the public became a reality after San Jose officials came up with the idea and then applied for a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund it. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed considers the showcase one of the best introductions to his ‘Green Vision’ agenda of goals he wants the city to achieve by 2022. Among them are reducing per-capita energy use by 50 percent and obtaining 100 percent of the city’s electrical power from renewable energy sources.” —Tracy Seipel, “San Jose’s Clean Energy Showcase brings latest energy innovations to life,” The Mercury News, Oct. 12, 2011. See page 21. (continued on next page) 23 December 2011/January 2012

Norcal roundup (continued from previous page) Salinas vote keeps AMBAG running “Despite criticism from outside the agency and even within it own ranks, the board of the Association on Monterey Bay Area Governments voted unanimously to continue operations, despite questions about the group’s handling of everything from transportation computer models to whether its work duplicates what other agencies do. AMBAG’s future was all but assured after the Salinas City Council voted to keep AMBAG. With a budget of $5.8 million and a dozen employees, the agency not only works on transportation

planning, it also prepares sometimes-controversial affordable housing guidelines, oversees a PG&E energy conservation program, runs a popular rideshare program, and is drawing up a state-mandated ‘Sustainable Communities Strategy’ to help reduce automobile traffic.” —Jason Hoppin, “Regional agency AMBAG survives questions about future,” The Santa Cruz Sentinel, Oct. 17, 2011. Ed. note: East Palo Alto hired John Doughty, former AMBAG executive director, to head its new Community Development department. Palo Alto Weekly, Dec. 7, 2011. ■

Attention APA California Members! The APA California 2012 Conference Committee is now accepting submissions for the 2012 APA California Conference.

The conference will be held at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, Rancho Mirage, October 21– 24, 2012 Submissions are only accepted online and are due no later than January 9, 2012. Please submit your abstract using the form available at Please click here for The 2012 APA California Conference instructions on submittals are available in PDF at For additional questions, please contact Lynne Bynder, CMP at

Northern News

24 December 2011/January 2012

What others are saying Highlights from news sources around the country Complied by Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP, Editor demands technologies that are not yet commercialized, and coordination of investment, technology development, and infrastructure deployment.” Also see: California Council on Science and Technology, “California’s energy future: The view to 2050,” The CCST report is available at

Alternative dispute resolution in planning In case you missed November’s Planning magazine, be sure to look at Joshua Abrams’ article, “The Zoning Dispute Whisperer: Adding mediation to the planner’s toolkit.” “I wrote it because I volunteer doing ADR and am surprised by how little of it goes on in the planning world,” said Abrams in an email. “There was this disconnect where if someone calls the ADR center, their problem is mediated in a healthy way; but if someone calls code enforcement with the same complaint, the process is totally different.” Joshua Abrams, AICP, is the founder of the Community Planning Collaborative and a principal at Baird + Driskell Community Planning.

Solar war flares “The U.S. Commerce Department opened a trade case against China’s solar panel makers in November at the request of SolarWorld Industries America and six other American solar companies. The Commerce Department is considering punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels based on preliminary evidence that China is ‘dumping’ solar panels in the U.S. below the cost of making and marketing them. [In response] Chinese solar panel makers plan to shift some of their production to South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States in hopes of defusing the pending trade case. The Chinese solar panel industry [is also considering] filing its own antidumping trade case against the United States. The likely target would be American exports of polysilicon, the main material used in making conventional solar panels. The manufacture of polysilicon requires enormous amounts of energy — so much electricity that it typically takes the first year of operation of the panel to generate as much power as was required to make the polysilicon in it.” —Keith Bradsher, “China bends to U.S. complaint on solar panels, but weighs retaliation,” The New York Times, Nov. 21, 2011.

California must shift to electric power to meet long-term climate goals California’s greenhouse gas laws call for reducing GHG emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. While the policy has been vigorously debated, until now “there has been little physically realistic modeling of the energy and economic transformations required.” A team of researchers from Energy and Environmental Economics, Monterey Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory “analyzed the infrastructure and technology path required to meet this goal in [the California] economy, using detailed modeling of infrastructure stocks, resource constraints, and electricity system operability.” They found that “widespread electrification of transportation and other sectors is required” (for example, a fully electrified grid powered by carbon-free power plants). The study findings were published in November in the journal Science, “The technology path to deep greenhouse gas emissions cuts by 2050: The pivotal role of electricity.” Mike Taugher, writing in the Contra Costa Times Nov. 25, says “the study found that meeting that long-term goal” for GHG reduction will “not require major breakthroughs such as the development of nuclear fusion, but will require a lot of innovation and investment.” Not only will Californians “have to use energy much more efficiently, [they] also will have to make a big shift to electric power. Cars will have to run on electricity, and homes and businesses will have to be heated with electricity or solar power.” The study abstract concluded, “The transformation

Northern News

Redevelopment agencies need to worry Here’s “the biggest question that emerged” from the November 10th “California Supreme Court oral arguments in California Redevelopment Association vs. Matosantos — the lawsuit challenging the state’s new pay-ransom-or-die redevelopment system. What happens it the court upholds AB 1x 26, which abolishes redevelopment, but strikes down AB 1x 27, which permits redevelopment agencies to continue to exist if they pay a “remittance” to the state? (continued on next page)


December 2011/January 2012

What others are saying (continued from previous page) The net effect of upholding AB 1x 26 and striking down AB 1x 27 would be to kill redevelopment completely — a worse outcome than the redevelopment agencies got from the Legislature and the governor. James Williams of the Santa Clara County Counsel’s office argued passionately to uphold AB 1x 26 and strike down AB 1x 27. That’s not surprising considering the pickle the county is in. The San José Redevelopment Agency — once one of the richest and most powerful in the state — does not appear to have the money to pay the remittance; but if San José can figure out how to do so, the county will be out an enormous amount of money. The court is expected to rule by midJanuary, when the first installment of the remittance payments is due.” —Bill Fulton and Josh Stephens, “Redevelopment Agencies’ Worst Nightmare Discussed before Supreme Court,” California Planning & Development Report, Nov. 11, 2011.

Only five years left for world to counter climate change “The International Energy Agency warned Wednesday that the world is hurtling toward irreversible climate change and will lose the chance to limit warming if it doesn’t take bold action in the next five years.” However, although “governments around the world have put increasing energy efficiency at the top of their to-do lists, efficiency has worsened for two years in a row. The agency’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, said, ‘After 2017, we will lose the chance to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.’ The report said that the current promises to reduce emissions, when taken together, will likely result in an increase of more than 3.5 degrees Celsius — and there isn’t any guarantee those commitments will even be carried out. ‘The most important contribution to reaching energy security and climate goals comes from the energy that we do not consume,’ the IEA report said.” —Sarah Dilorenzo, “IEA’s World Energy Outlook warns of irreversible climate change, The Huffington Post, Nov. 9, 2011.

California eclipses France, China, Belgium on solar power “California has hit a major renewable energy milestone: 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of solar power has been

Northern News

installed on rooftops throughout the state, according to a report by Environment California, a statewide advocacy group. The cumulative tally for California includes solar panels installed on new and existing homes and commercial buildings. It includes solar connected to the electric grid by large utilities like PG&E as well as solar within municipal utilities in cities like Palo Alto and Santa Clara. California Solar Initiative, the state’s aggressive program to encourage rooftop solar panels, is credited with the milestone. About 600 megawatts has been installed through the California Solar Initiative. Only five countries have hit the 1 gigawatt installation mark to date: Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy, and the Czech Republic.” —Dana Hull, The Mercury News, Nov. 9, 2011.

More job openings “Employers advertised more jobs in September — nearly 3.4 million — than at any other point in the past three years, suggesting hiring could pick up in the next few months. Most economists say the increase in openings — the most since August 2008, one month before the financial crisis intensified — is a reassuring sign. Job openings have rebounded from a decade low of 2.1 million in July 2009. But they are well below the 4.4 million advertised in December 2007, when the recession began. Almost four years later, roughly 14 million people are unemployed. An average 4.2 unemployed workers were competing for each opening in September. More openings do not necessarily mean more jobs. Even though job openings rose 22 percent in the past year, hiring has increased only 10 percent, the Labor Department’s report shows.” — Christopher S. Rugaber, Associated Press, “Job openings hit three-year high in September,” Saratoga News, Nov. 8, 2011.

Are banks helping or hurting by bulldozing foreclosed property? “Urban policy makers at the state and city levels should insist that banks, whose lending policies created the mortgage crisis, not be allowed to walk away from the problem, but be compelled to collaborate with government officials and land banks to develop a vision and a realistic (continued on next page)

26 December 2011/January 2012

What others are saying (continued from previous page) plan for responsibly downsizing shrinking cities.” — Sarah Williams Goldhagen (architecture critic, The New Republic), “Destroying houses to save cities: A vision beyond rebuilding,” The New York Times, Oct. 26, 2011. “If we care about repositioning cities, we need to ask when city erasure will end and city visioning begin.” —Toni L. Griffin (professor of architecture, City College of New York), “Destroying houses to save cities: Seizing an opportunity,” The New York Times, Oct. 28, 2011

Fewer Californians moving out-of-state Article: Graphic: “The continuing economic downturn has drastically altered the internal migration habits of Americans. Migration into formerly booming states like Arizona, Florida, and Nevada began to slow as soon as the recession hit and continued to shrink even into 2010. Florida saw its first migration loss since the 1940s. At the same time, Massachusetts, New York, and California, which had been hemorrhaging people for years, and continued to do so in the three years before the financial collapse, suddenly saw the domestic migration loss shrink by as much as 90 percent.” —Jennifer Medina and Sabrina Tavernise, “Economy alters how Americans are moving,” The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2011. Source: Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire.

To get water to cities, California farmers paid not to plant Imperial Valley farmers “can continue to farm all their land, or they can stop farming some of it and earn more than $500 an acre — more than the market value of a crop like alfalfa in a given year — simply by not using the water required to nourish those crops. Water saved is sent on to thirsty cities and suburbs to the west: San Diego, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs. But this comes with a hitch. Working farms provide jobs and income to their many suppliers. There are 450 farmers in the Imperial Valley, but half the jobs held by the 174,000 residents are tied to agriculture. When land is idled, the communities around the farms can wither; over time, businesses and workers have suffered. Environmentalists say the Imperial water transfer has harmed the fast-shrinking Salton Sea, a briny lake that sits below sea level. Water irrigating farm fields drains into the Salton Sea; water sent to cities does not.” —Felicity Barringer, “Empty fields fill urban basins and farmers’ pockets,” The New York Times, Oct. 23, 2011. ■

“THAT SHOULD BE A WORD. Denigreet. De-ni-greet, v. 1. To deliberately pretend to have never met someone. ‘After her promotion, Lisa made a point to denigreet Tom at the meeting.’ 2. To insult by introducing incorrectly to others. See also: hurtsy, himiliate.” —Lizzie Skurnick,

Northern News

27 December 2011/January 2012

NORTHERN SECTION CALENDAR To list an event in the Northern Section calendars (Northern News, monthly; eNews, every two weeks), go to to see the required template (at top of page), the current listings, and where to send your formatted item. ONGOING ONLINE VIDEO. Symposium, 1909–2109: Sustaining the Lasting Value of American Planning. This four-hour symposium on May 21, 2009, brought together federal officials, planners, academics, and grassroots advocates to focus on the achievements of America’s first 100 years of planning. See a video of the symposium (free) and earn CM credits. Visit CM | 4.0 may be earned by viewing all four parts of the symposium video


DECEMBER Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu



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Brown Bag Lunch Series: Affordable housing on the North Coast. Noon–1 PM, SHN’s conference room, 812 W. Wabash Avenue, EUREKA. Free. Using the community land trust model, the Humboldt Bay Housing Development Corporation has created 22 permanently affordable, energy efficient, beautifully designed homes.


Inclusionary Housing Ordinances: What’s Next? 7–8:30 PM, Oakland MetroCenter, 101 Eighth Street, OAKLAND. This event will fulfill the Law requirement for AICP’s Certification Maintenance (CM) Program (pending approval). Barbara Kautz, FAICP, JD, MCP, and Alexandra Barnhill, JD and APA California–Northern’s Legislative Director will review the implications of BIA v. Patterson and Palmer v. City of Los Angeles. The presenters will discuss how cities and counties have maintained the viability and success of inclusionary ordinances in light of these lawsuits, continuing legal challenges, and developer requests. They will also discuss so-called “nexus studies” and the importance of continued local advocacy. Space is limited; register by sending an email to $10 for APA members; $15 for all others, payable by check or exact change at the door, starting at 6:30 PM. For more information, contact Colette Meunier at (707) 748-4453 or CM Law | 1.5 pending (continued on next page)

Northern News 28 December 2011/January 2012

NORTHERN SECTION CALENDAR (continued from previous page) 12/16

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Redwood Coast Region’s Holiday Party. 5–7 PM, 925 17th Street, EUREKA. Join us for the third annual holiday party. (It’s primarily for North Coast planners who can’t get easily to San Francisco for the Section’s annual event). Dessert for six, a bottle of wine, or a six-pack of beer will get you in the door.


Mentorship Program enrollment period ends. For details, see article on page 15.


Submissions deadline, 2012 APA California Conference. The conference will be held at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, Rancho Mirage, October 21–24, 2012. Submissions are only accepted online and are due no later than January 9. Please submit your abstract at For submittal instructions, go to Questions? Contact Lynne Bynder, CMP, at


Brown Bag Lunch Series: Rails and trails on the North Coast. Noon–1 PM, SHN, 812 W. Wabash Street, EUREKA. Free. Local interest in maximizing the use of The North Coast Rail Authority’s railroad right-of-way to develop a regional trail system backbone has been gaining momentum. Karen Diemer (City of Arcata) will review, bring us up to date, and share the current status of the first segment between Arcata and Bracut/101 intersection.


APA California, Northern Section Board Retreat. 9 AM–3:15 PM, DC&E, 1625 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 300, BERKELEY. The full retreat begins at 10. The first hour is set aside for general orientation of newly and recently appointed and elected Board members. The Board will set its goals and budget for the year. All APA members are welcome. RSVP to Hanson Hom at (408) 730-7450 or


AICP Exam Prep Workshop. 10 AM–4 PM, San José State University, Pacheco Room, 2nd floor, Student Union Building. To register, contact Don Bradley, or (650) 592-0915. Do not buy any other materials.

(continued on next page)

Northern News 29 December 2011/January 2012

NORTHERN SECTION CALENDAR (continued from previous page) FEBRUARY

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Bay Area League Day: Housing and the Bay Area’s Future. 9 AM–2:10 PM, OAKLAND location TBD. Keynote speaker David Rosen is a leading expert in affordable housing finance, policy, land use, lending, and investment strategic planning. Panels of experts will discuss 1) meeting regional housing needs in light of the sustainable communities strategy, 2) difficulties financing affordable housing, and 3) how to serve the hardest to house. Cost in advance, $30; $15 without lunch. At the door, $35; $20 without lunch. To register, send a check payable to “LWVBA” along with your name and any guest names to LWVBA, 1611 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612. Registration is also available online through January 27 via PayPal at For more details, call (510) 839-1608 or send an email to CM | 5.0 pending


Planning Commissioner Workshop. 9 AM–Noon, San Leandro Main Library, 300 Estudillo Avenue, Estudillo Room, SAN LEANDRO. Free. Coffee, tea, juice, bagels, and pastries provided. This is the first of three APA Northern planning commissioner workshops that will be offered from February to May 2012. The workshops cover topics such as the basics of general plans, specific plans, zoning codes, and CEQA. Other topics may include hearing procedures, land use laws, and key legal cases. Registration details to follow. For information, contact Janet Palma, AICP,


AICP Exam Prep Workshop. 10 AM–4 PM, San José State University, Pacheco Room, 2nd floor, Student Union Building. To register, contact Don Bradley, or (650) 592-0915. Do not buy any other materials.



4 11 18 25



Deadline for APA California Northern Planning Award submittals: 5 PM. Nominations and application materials for the APA California Northern Planning Awards are available online at and are due by 5 PM. Materials received after this date will not be accepted and will not be returned. No exceptions!


AICP Exam Prep Workshop. 10 AM–4 PM, San José State University, Pacheco Room, 2nd floor, Student Union Building. To register, contact Don Bradley, or (650) 592-0915. Do not buy any other materials. Future meeting dates are April 21 and May 12. ■

Northern News 30 December 2011/January 2012



Director Hanson Hom, AICP

(408) 730-7450


Director Elect Allen Tai, AICP

(408) 975-2544

Immediate Past Director Darcy Kremin, AICP

(510) 874-3195

Administrative Director Justin Meek

(831) 430-6796

Treasurer Laura Thompson

(510) 464-7935

AICP Director Don Bradley, AICP

(650) 592-0915

Awards Program Directors Andrea Ouse, AICP (650) 985-2590 Eileen Whitty, AICP (510) 287-1109

CPF Liaison Hing Wong, AICP

(510) 464-7966

Ethics Review Director Colette Meunier, AICP

(707) 748-4453

International Director Rob Eastwood, AICP

(408) 299-5792


Legislative Director Alexandra M. Barnhill

(510) 273-8316

Membership Director Rodrigo Orduña, AICP

(510) 541-5324

Planning Commissioner Janet Palma, AICP

(510) 390-3984

Theresa M. Alster Associate Editor (408) 981-8346 Erik Balsley, AICP Associate Editor (415) 592-4769

Advertising Director/Jobs Scott Davidson, AICP (510) 697-2280

Newsletter Designer Nancy Roberts (408) 723-3200

ADDRESS CHANGES Membership Department American Planning Association 205 North Michigan Ave, Suite 1200 Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 431-9100

Planning Diversity Co-Directors Miroo Desai, AICP (510) 596-3785 Kay Cheng (510) 334-1637

Professional Development Director Tania Sheyner, AICP (415) 896-5900

Section Historian Juan Borrelli, AICP

(408) 793-4384

Student Representatives Michelle Thong David Keyon, AICP

(650) 207-5239 (650) 450-6163

University Liaison Emy Mendoza

(510) 326-1919

Webmasters Pierce Macdonald Ronny Kraft

(510) 459-6092 (650) 508-6367

Young Planners Group Directors Avalon Schultz (510) 504-9563 Natalie De Leon (408) 313-2662

Naphtali H. Knox, FAICP Editor (415) 699-7333

Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) East Bay Joanna Jansen, AICP Andy Waggoner

(510) 848-3815 (510) 604-4089

Monterey Bay Elizabeth Caraker, AICP

(831) 372-1314

North Bay Kristine Gaspar

(707) 523-1010

Peninsula James Castañeda, AICP

(415) 601-9473

Redwood Coast Stephen Avis, AICP

(707) 725-1407

San Francisco Brian Soland, AICP

(415) 495-6201

South Bay Katja Irvin, AICP

(408) 569-8214

Northern News

Our mailing lists come from APA National, updated every two months. To update your email address or other information, go to and login. There’s a “submit” button at the bottom.

The American Planning Association, California Chapter Northern, offers membership to city and regional planners and associated professionals primarily living or working in California, from Monterey County to Del Norte County, including the nine county San Francisco Bay Area and Lake and San Benito Counties. APA California Northern promotes planning-related continuing education and social functions in order to: • Provide an arena for communication and exchange of information about planning related activities; • Raise member awareness and involvement in APA affairs; • Increase public awareness of the importance of planning; • Encourage professionalism in the conduct of its members; and • Foster a sense of community among the members. APA California Northern publishes Northern News 10 times each year in PDF for the exchange of planning ideas and information. Current and back issues are available for download at . Entirely the effort of volunteers, the News is written and produced by and for urban planners in Northern California. Circulation (downloads per issue) averages 4,000.

Northern News welcomes comments. Letters to the editor require the author’s first and last name, home or work street address and phone number (neither of which will be published), and professional affiliation or title (which will be published only with the author’s permission). All letters are subject to editing. Letters over 250 words are not considered. Deadlines for submitting materials for inclusion in Northern News range from the 12th to the 16th of the month prior to publication. The 2012 schedule can be viewed at . Permission to reprint is granted. Please credit “Northern News, APA California – Northern.”

31 December 2011/January 2012