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New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) holds their 17th annual conference in San Francisco on Thursday 2/1 through Saturday 2/3 at the Hilton Union Square Hotel. Themed “Practical Tools and Innovative Strategies for Creating Great Communities,” NPSG’s 2018 conference features a dynamic speaker series and eight thematic tracks that address timely housing, transportation, planning and environmental challenges, with smart growth and equity as the threads that weave among each track.

Conference tours will offer attendees the chance to learn firsthand about local development initiatives across the Bay Area (including tours in San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond and Berkeley). In addition to helping to coordinate the NPSG housing track, Seifel Consulting arranged the Thursday morning “Downtown San Francisco Transbay Transit Center District Tour,” which will feature the numerous public private partnerships under development and recently built. Not only are these developments creating San Francisco’s newest mixed-income neighborhood (featuring 35% affordable housing), they are providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the new Transit Center.

On Saturday morning, we will delve more deeply into funding strategies for affordable housing. “Paying for Affordable Housing,” will explore the opportunities and challenges in raising capital to fund affordable housing, including multi-layered investment funds, cap and trade auction proceeds, and local ballot measures. Session attendees will leave with a greater understanding of successful approaches to fund housing within their own community. Speakers include Amie Fishman of Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Julijs Liepins of Forsyth Street, and Brian Prater of the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF). Libby will moderate this engaging session.

Full details on the 2018 New Partners for Smart Growth conference, as well as registration information, can be found here. Presented by the Local Government Commission, NPSG draws a national audience of federal, state and local leaders who are committed to building safer, healthier and more livable communities everywhere. In recent years, the NPSG Conference was held in St. Louis, Portland and Baltimore.

UPDATES (February 5)
Click here for a peek at the accompanying presentation to the Transit Center tour.
Click here to explore the Saturday morning Finance Panel "Paying for Affordable Housing"

Transbay Transit Center poised to open in Spring 2018
The Transbay Transit Center is poised to open in 2018. In addition to providing intermodal transit access throughout the Bay Area, the 1.2 million-square-foot Transit Center will feature more than 100,000 square feet of retail space and a signature 5.4-acre rooftop park, including an amphitheater and public plazas. Surrounding the Transit Center are numerous new developments underway that will ultimately include more than 6 million square feet of commercial space, about 4,400 new housing units (35% affordable to very low, low and moderate income households) and new public parks and open space.
Lincoln Property Company is leading the management team of the Transit Center’s public spaces, retail leasing, open space programming, and promotional platform, collaborating with Colliers International, Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, and Pearl Media. Collectively this team will lease and activate the Transit Center’s retail space, dynamic rooftop park and its promotional platform featuring more than 270 digital displays throughout the Transit Center. The Transit Center will connect eight Bay Area counties and 11 transit systems, including future California High-Speed Rail. Bus operations at the Transbay Transit Center are scheduled to start in early 2018. (To learn more updates about the Transbay Transit Center, visit them at
Seifel Consulting has advised the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the City and County of San Francisco and the former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency on the complex funding program for the Transit Center, the redevelopment of the surrounding area, and the implementation program for the Transit Center District Plan.

The transformation of San Francisco’s waterfront, and the many exciting opportunities and challenges it presents–was the focus of Leadership California’s July 20th afternoon program. As part of their yearlong California Issues & Trends Program (CIT), women leaders from across California gained insight from San Francisco women who are leading major development projects along the waterfront.

Rebecca Benassini from the Port of San Francisco started the presentation by providing an overview of the catalytic projects stretching from north to south along the City’s seven miles of waterfront. Nadia Sesay of the Office of Community Investment & Infrastructure (OCII) described the innovative public private partnership that OCII is undertaking with Five Point at Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point (The Shipyard). Ivy Greaner of Five Point described the key development components of both The Shipyard and Treasure Island that Five Point is currently implementing. Anne Taupier of the Office of Economic & Workforce Development described the key negotiating principles that have provided the framework for innovative public private partnerships at Mission Rock, Pier 70 and HPS/CP to enhance transit access, create housing affordable to a broad range of local residents and workers and provide new parks, artist studios, maker space for local artisans, and small business and employment programs for local residents along the southern waterfront. Libby Seifel, an alumna of the Leadership California program, moderated the panel and led an interactive discussion on lessons learned and best practices regarding on how to create successful public private partnerships that transform communities while addressing key community goals. OCII staff then led CIT women on a dynamic tour of the new neighborhood that is being created at The Shipyard.

Leadership California is a network of accomplished women who are dedicated to advancing the leadership role that women play in impacting business, social issues and public policy. The CIT Program brings together a diverse group of women from a broad range of sectors, ethnicities, regions and professional backgrounds.

ULI San Francisco’s Housing the Bay initiative features two San Francisco forums next week that explore housing affordability and public policy.

The Future is Now: Modular Construction in the Bay Area (Tuesday, July 18 at 5pm). Modular construction provides an opportunity for reduced hard costs during a time when it is getting increasingly difficult to make projects pencil. Join industry professionals Rick Holliday (Holliday Development), Fei Tsen (Windflower Properties), Larry Pace (Cannon Constructors) and Jay Bradshaw (NorCal Carpenters Regional Council) in a discussion on the evolving modular industry, the prospects that this construction methodology provides, and what the future of modular construction means for the Bay Area.

360 Look at a Win-Win Public Engagement: 1028 Market Street (Thursday, July 20 at 8am). A recently-entitled mixed-use residential and retail project located in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood, 1028 Market Street took a creative turn in its use of the vacant building during the entitlement process, as it transformed into “The Hall“, a valuable community hub. Moderated by Brooke Ray Rivera (Build Public) and including panelists Ilana Lipsett (Tidewater Capital), Randy Shaw (Tenderloin Housing Clinic) and Marlo Sandler (San Francisco Planning), the panel will provide a 360-degree perspective on this unique (and successful) approach to community engagement with representatives from the developer, the community, and the City.

Housing the Bay is a new initiative launched by ULI San Francisco in collaboration with SPUR and other local partners to address the underlying issues affecting housing cost and supply in the Bay Area. Through ongoing events, research and workshops (including the October 6 Housing the Bay Summit), this initiative is dedicated to delivering innovative housing solutions for the Bay Area in the realms of real estate financing, construction costs, policy and the public process.

“The Future is Now: Modular Construction in the Bay Area” takes place Tuesday, July 18 at 5pm. Click here for complete details and registration.

“360 Look at a Win-Win Public Engagement: 1028 Market Street” takes place Thursday, July 20 at 8am. Click here for complete details and registration.

(UPDATE!  “360 Look at a Win-Win Public Engagement: 1028 Market Street” is currently sold out!? See registration page for waitlist info!)


(Special thanks to DPR Construction for hosting the event at their space.)

Housing costs have continued to rise since 2014, when The Urbanist featured "The Real Cost of Building Housing” in San Francisco. SPUR’s upcoming panel, "Why Housing Costs So Much” will feature industry insiders Mark Hogan (OpenScope Studio), Ann Silverberg (BRIDGE Housing), Taeko Takagi (Pankow) and Libby Seifel (Seifel Consulting). This lively group of panelists will dissect the complex cost factors in housing development, explore the reasons for why costs have continued to increase and suggest what could be done do to help curtail them. (Mark and Libby previously examined these very issues at a SPUR session in early 2014.)

Please join on May 30 for this panel. Admission is free for SPUR members/$10 for non-members. Check out SPUR for more information:

  • SPUR Lunchtime Forum: “Why Does Housing Cost So Much?”
  • 12:30pm on Tuesday 5/30, SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

UPDATE (July 7, 2017)



With several residential construction projects at or near completion in Mission Bay, the City of San Francisco and the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) have nearly achieved their goals for affordable and market rate housing in this area formerly dominated by abandoned railyards and vacant land. By summer’s end, 5,646 of the planned 6,404 residential units will be complete. One Mission Bay (350 market-rate units) and Five 88 (200 units of affordable family apartments) are expected to be completed by the end of 2017, while residents are in the process of moving into Mission Bay by Windsor (formerly Eviva Mission Bay). Anticipated for completion in late 2018 is the 143-unit development at 626 Mission Bay Boulevard North, which will reserve 20 percent of its units for formerly homeless families.
Seifel Consulting advised the City and County of San Francisco and its former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, as well as the Port of San Francisco on the redevelopment efforts for Mission Bay and the adjacent Mission Rock development, paving the way for development of this growing new neighborhood in the City.

For over 100 years, the Japantown neighborhood has been the cultural heart for the Japanese community of San Francisco and the Bay Area region.  At the same time, Japantown has endured numerous challenges to its physical and economic environment. Over the last four years through San Francisco’s Better Neighborhoods planning process, community stakeholders have articulated their vision for Japantown’s future and recommended cultural and economic strategies to achieve this vision. The Japantown Cultural Resources and Economic Sustainability Strategy (JCHESS) is the result of this process to articulate community concerns, identify cultural resources in the area, and deploy public policies and funding tools to preserve and enhance cultural assets.


The upcoming 1/28/14 SPUR forum will present JCHESS, the first of its kind in the nation. Hear important lessons for other communities within San Francisco and beyond.


Seifel Consulting served as economic consultants assisting the City in creating a compendium of economic and other tools to help support the preservation and enhancement of cultural resources.


Details on the SPUR session located here.

Blogger Markasaurus asks in a recent post, “Why can’t developers build housing in San Francisco for the people who need it most instead of for the rich?” The price of housing in San Francisco is skyrocketing. An upcoming SPUR forum will address the question: why is it so expensive to build housing in San Francisco?


Panelists will examine the component costs of bringing housing to market and discuss how predevelopment costs, delays, and requirements for additional studies and parking factor into the cost equation. The session will conclude with a deliberation on what can be done to drive down land costs and change construction practices, as well as what local government’s role—if any—is in cost reduction.


Architect Mark “Markasaurus” Hogan will present his recent analysis on housing costs. Panelist Libby Seifel will compare housing costs to costs in other communities and present findings from the Inclusionary Housing Financial Analysis Report her firm prepared for the San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Housing. Daniel Murphy of Urban Green DevCo and Blair Allison of Cahill Contractors will present developer and contractor perspectives on housing cost. 

Details on SPUR session.