Archive: Feb 2015

  1. Changing Practice in a Changing World

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    It looks like 2015 will once again be a year characterized by incremental progress in the face of polarizing extremes. While housing markets have rebounded in some major metropolitan areas, development is focused largely on high-end markets, raising serious questions about affordability in the nation’s booming metros. On the weather front, we’re starting the year off with record setting snowfall in the Northeast while California remains parched – providing more support for the notion that extreme weather will be the new normal. And, for the first time, a tech giant has supplanted big oil as the world’s most valuable company.

    Times are changing and we, in turn, must change the way we practice to advance progressivism in evolving economic, physical, and political spheres. This month, we look at how “resilience” planning can be made to promote inclusivity, equity, and sustainability. We then pivot to how the increasingly powerful tech sector can work with policymakers and educators to change the face of their relatively homogenous workforce. And, from there, we look at how incentive zoning policies can be leveraged to lend certainty to the development process and provide meaningful community benefits. If the only thing that’s inevitable is change, let’s be prepared to create the change we want to see.

    Sincerely,

    Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

  2. Promising Practices in Resilience Planning

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    As it becomes apparent that extreme weather events are becoming the new normal, planning to ensure that our communities are prepared to weather a natural disaster is imperative. Faced with a warming planet, limited resources, and a growing global population, governments large and small are rethinking their communities. And much of this new thinking is being done under the banner of building local resilience. But as the term resilience becomes as amorphous as “sustainability,” it’s helpful to focus on the most promising practices in this burgeoning field. As we look at best practices, it becomes clear that the most promising strategies are informed by local knowledge and context, emphasize equity and inclusivity, and incorporate disaster mitigation techniques that are ecologically appropriate. (more…)

  3. Diversifying the Tech Workforce

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    It’s no secret that California is a leader in tech employment, with Silicon Valley playing host to the nation’s best-paid technology workers. It’s also no secret that the high tech industry as a whole has a diversity problem, with major companies reporting that around 70% of their workforce is made up of males, while nine in ten employees are either White or Asian. Those statistics don’t bode well for an industry that designs, markets, and manufactures products for an increasingly diverse pool of consumers. But while the tech industry has acknowledged the issue, what’s being done to address the problem? And how are policymakers and educational institutions engaging with the tech sector to change the face of this innovative workforce? (more…)

  4. A More Transparent Development Process

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    Image from Cornell University Sustainable Design: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cusd/7953248594/in/photostream/

    Image from Cornell University Sustainable Design: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cusd/7953248594/in/photostream/

    A rebounding economy has led to a resurgence of development activity in real estate markets throughout the country. But as high-rise condos, multi-family rentals, creative office blocs, and boutique hotel developments begin to crop up in thriving urban markets, the backlash is inevitable. Much of the criticism centers on unaffordability, the lack of community amenities, and the impression that developers are scoring major concessions at the expense of taxpayers and local residents. But is there a better way to do development?

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  5. Bringing Manufacturing Back, One Development at a Time

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    Last month, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved the construction the first new manufacturing facility to break ground in nearly twenty years. 100 Hooper is centrally located in San Francisco’s SoMa District, and will convert a storage and truck rental site into a 427,000 square foot campus, comprised of manufacturing facilities and office space. A stand-alone building will serve as the headquarters for SF Made, a non-profit dedicated to developing the local manufacturing sector. (more…)