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As part of a project funded by the California Endowment, the Local Government Commission (LGC) is holding a series of meetings throughout California to discuss innovative funding strategies and local community revitalization strategies.

With access to capital a frequent barrier to realizing a community’s vision, this Friday’s LGC session ”New Funding Strategies to Fuel Smart Growth Successes" will explore innovative strategies for getting projects going. This Friday morning's session features Darin Dinsmore (Founder and CEO at Crowdbrite), Jim Becker (CEO and President at Richmond Community Foundation), Joshua Genser (Board Chair at Richmond Community Foundation) and Libby Seifel

 

UPDATE! LGC’S guidebook “Smart-Growth Money: New Funding Strategies for Community Improvements” is available at this link.

 

“Smart-Growth Money: New Funding Strategies for Community Improvements” explores funding tools and strategies to help local leaders identify funding sources and manage limited dollars to achieve community goals. The report includes case studies featuring innovative ways to successfully navigate financial hurdles. For more information, visit http://www.lgc.org/new-funding-strategies-guidebook

 

LGC works to build livable communities and local leadership by connecting leaders via innovative programs and network opportunities. More on LGC's is available here.


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.)


How do communities highlight their best assets to attract and retain business? A key first step is the identification of the community’s core strengths and their competitive advantages in relationship to how businesses decide where to locate.

A second critical component to economic development is developing a "customer centric" orientation that emphasizes better communication and rapport with business owners and their representatives.

A second critical component to economic development is developing a "customer centric" orientation that emphasizes better communication and rapport with business owners and their representatives.

At the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference, held September 19, Libby Seifel facilitated the lively workshop discussion “Economic Development: Spotlighting Assets in Your Community to Attract & Retain New Business". Fellow panelists included Robert Gilmore, Land Use and Economic Development Consultant with MuniServices, and Damian McKinney, Founder & CEO of The McKinney Advisory Group. Joining Libby, Rob, and Damian were elected officials and city staff.

The basics of hospitality can be a key ingredient to attracting new jobs, as Damian McKinney explains. Sharing a personal experience, Damian tells the story of a homemade dinner at the house of Town’s Mayor, of how a relaxed and supportive environment led to honest and insightful conversation on Town growth opportunities, and how this eventually led to the development of a major business in town.

Rob Gilmore noted how communities need a proactive economic development strategy that includes a focused work plan with prioritized action steps to be done on a quarterly and annual basis. Audience members also shared “best practice” experience from their own communities, including examples of how they help communities work together to establish a shared vision, conducting workshops with local business community members to identify actions steps, and developing key metrics to measure success.

The word 'hospitality' in the New Testament comes from two Greek words. The first word means 'love' and the second word means 'strangers.' It's a word that means love of strangers. - Nancy Leigh DeMoss


In 2013, the Bay Area’s nine counties completed a regional plan called Plan Bay Area that aligns with California’s 2008 state land use and climate change laws (SB  375). SPUR has long advocated for a regional plan and provided key input throughout the Plan Bay Area adoption process, conducting related analyses on how to promote better regional planning and build a stronger Bay Area economy. Highlights of SPUR’s contributions include:

The economic challenges to building a strong regional economy is compounded by the reality that middle-income jobs in the Bay Area are becoming scarcer as more and more job growth takes place at the high and low ends of the wage spectrum. SPUR is collaborating with a group of partners to help expand economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income Bay Area residents through its work on the Economic Prosperity Strategy, a key initiative of One Bay Area.

For the 2013 Index of Silicon Valley, SPUR wrote a special analysis on the economic benefits of governing the Bay Area as if it were a single economic region. The analysis focused on issues are difficult to address at the local level (limited housing production, fragmented transit delivery systems, job sprawl, fiscal inequities and climate change) and recommended potential strategies to address them.

As the Bay Area economy began to improve, SPUR reported in its publication The Urban Future of Work that knowledge sector firms are embracing the benefits of urbanism and relocating to San Francisco and other transit accessible Bay Area cities because these companies recognize the locational advantages of being close to suppliers, collaborators, and urban amenities desired by their employees.

SPUR’s Regional Policy Board advises on SPUR’s regional planning endeavors and Libby Seifel chairs this Board for SPUR.


Silicon Valley, the heart of California’s technology hub, is perceived as a desirable place to live and work. However, many of the workers who keep Silicon Valley’s economic engine moving forward are unable to afford homes in the very communities in which they work.

NPH and Urban Habitat recently published Moving Silicon Valley Forward – Housing, Transit and Traffic at a Crossroad, a report that explores the economic, housing, and transportation challenges in Silicon Valley.

Moving Silicon Valley Forward shows that “contrary to popular perception, the average commuter into Silicon Valley is not the highly paid technology worker. More than 45 percent of in-commuters into San Mateo County earn less than $40,000 per year.”

Enduring longer commutes leaves lower-to-middle income workers with little money to cover other essential costs of living. Longer commutes also contribute to congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Moving Silicon Valley Forward outlines crucial next steps to help preserve and develop affordable housing (particularly near transit), improve transit funding and service, and incentivize transit use by workers and residents.

Seifel Consulting, in collaboration with Nelson/Nygaard, provided economic, demographic and transit research for the report (available here).