Latest News from Seifel Consulting Inc.


This year’s annual conference of California’s Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA California) brought together members of the planning community to share best practices and recognize award-winning projects that are changing the landscape of California’s communities.

With the recent loss of redevelopment in California, local communities must plan for the reuse of public properties without having access to many tools that were formerly available to facilitate development. In addition, members of the planning community find themselves having to assume economic development responsibilities that were previously assigned to their redevelopment agencies. The session "Brave New World: Developing Public Property Without Redevelopment” explored strategies being used by California communities to successfully develop public properties in a manner consistent with local planning goals. Session panelists Barbara Kautz and Rafael Yaquian (Goldfarb & Lipman), Kevin Keller (City of Los Angeles) and Libby Seifel presented proven techniques that local agencies can use to maximize their ability to redevelop these properties while examining the legal constraints on their use. (Click here for full presentation, including the handout "Top Ten Best Practice Tips for Development Deals".)

California communities are also approaching development and neighborhood revitalization in ways that can enhance local cultural heritage. The session "When Property Values Attack: A Planning Tool for Combating the Loss of Intangible Heritage" showcased the Japantown Cultural Heritage and Economic Sustainability Strategy (known as JCHESS, full report available here), which came out of a collaborative effort among San Francisco’s Japantown community, the City of San Francisco and local non-profits. JCHESS outlines strategies for preserving and enhancing Japantown’s cultural heritage and all that makes Japantown unique. The session featured Ruth Todd and Christina Dikas (Page & Turnbull), Shelley Caltagirone (San Francisco Planning Department), Desiree Smith (of San Francisco Heritage), and Libby Seifel, all of whom contributed to JCHESS. The session examined how the elements of Japantown’s heritage were documented (through the development of a Social Heritage Inventory Form) and contributed to the development of an economic incentives toolkit to help identify, prioritize, and incentivize the preservation of cultural and social heritage. (Click here for full presentation.)


Cities across the globe need to develop stronger, more adaptive environments to meet the challenges of an increasingly volatile climate that threatens intensified storm seasons and rising sea levels. To encourage resilience efforts worldwide, the Urban Land Institute will hold “Building the Resilient City” this September in San Francisco. The conference will bring together real estate professionals and thought leaders on climate change to share best practices on how cities and new development can become more resilient in ways that improve public spaces, add value, and minimize risk.

ULI’s chairman, Lynn Thurber, of LaSalle Investment Management, and ULI San Francisco District Chair, Jeff Smith, of Sack Properties, will open the conference and provide their perspectives on building resilient cities. Harriet Tregoning, new director of the HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience, will discuss the role of the federal government in creating resilient cities, and Henk Ovink will present best practices learned from Rebuild by Design, an initiative of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and HUD that is spurring development and policy innovations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Margaret Davidson, who leads NOAA’s coastal inundation and resilience efforts, will present latest insights into climate change's impact and the importance of linking data, technology and sustainable coastal development practices.

On Friday morning of the conference, we will explore how world cities are leveraging natural ecosystems to create multifunctional, protective open spaces that also help catalyze new private development and economic growth. Sarah Slaughter, Executive Director of the Built Environment Coalition, will moderating the session Getting More Bang for the Buck: Leveraging Green Infrastructure to Create Value and Reduce Risk" and will be joined by distinguished panelists Thomas Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz, Karen Kubick of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and Bry Sarte of Sherwood Design Engineers.

Please join us on this interactive panel as we discuss ground-breaking projects that create value, mitigate risk, and elevate green design to the next level.

Building the Resilient City” will take place Thursday and Friday, September 4 and 5, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Registration information is available here

Libby Seifel is serving on the ULI conference planning committee and is coordinating the session “Getting More Bang for the Buck” in collaboration with John McIlwain of ULI and Claire Bonham-Carter of AECOM.

"There is no finish line. Resilience is an ongoing process."
-Yukimoto Ito, vice mayor of Sendai, speaking after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.