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Formerly dominated by underutilized properties and an abandoned freeway, the Transit Center District is now the site of a comprehensive planning and redevelopment effort to create a dense, walkable employment center that will feature housing at all levels of affordability, active retail and abundant public open space. The substantial public infrastructure investment needed to undertake this project is funded through a complex and innovative mix of public and private funding sources. The major rezoning of properties throughout the district, along with its significant amenities, has created substantial value while generating enthusiastic response among the development community. 

 

A concurrent session at the recent ULI Fall Meeting, "Transbay Transit Center District: Transforming Downtown San Francisco through Innovative Public/Private Partnerships" examines the redevelopment challenges overcome during the project and strategies used to create this new “Grand Central of the West” and its adjacent neighborhood. 

 

Discussion leaders included Scott Boule of Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Tiffany Bohee of the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, John Eudy of Essex Property Trust, Mike Grisso of Kilroy Realty Corporation and John Rahaim of the City of San Francisco. Libby Seifel served as moderator of the panel, in addition to her duties as local program co-chair of the ULI Fall Meeting. 

 

A video of the session is available for viewing at ULI's webpage, here


The May 9 Legislative Policy Breakfast, hosted by Housing Leadership Council (HLC) brought together advocates and experts alike to share best practice tips and advocacy ideas for affordable housing in San Mateo County. Since 2001, HLC has supported the creation and preservation of well designed, sensibly located housing for a range of income levels through collaboration with a range of San Mateo County partners (local governments, non-profit organizations and businesses).
State Senator Jerry Hill (California Senate, 13th District) and Marina Wiant (of California Housing Consortium) shared insights into State and National legislation that could provide funding for affordable housing and enhance housing production, leading discussion on why some legislation would likely become law while others might not. Senator Hill and Ms. Wiant emphasized the need for continued, coordinated advocacy (by groups like HLC) to make the case for why a diverse spectrum of housing is critical to future success of California.
Phillip Kilbridge (CEO at Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco) presented a lively overview of the trials and tribulations of local developers who have had to go “Light & Fit”, learning how to develop in the face of declining revenues. Libby Seifel provided a fast paced overview of current housing financing tools available to communities (in post-Redevelopment California) with particular focus on the challenges and opportunities of using Infrastructure Financing Districts (IFDs) to help fund development. Libby asked audience members to review recommendations from her recent volunteer effort with ULI to promote new funding tools and strategies for infill development and affordable housing in California. ULI recently described affordable housing as one of the central elements to building healthy places in its Ten Principles of Building Healthy Places, and Libby offered ideas about how to promote this concept more broadly throughout San Mateo County.

"The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and...give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity."
- Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities


The issuance and disclosure of tax allocation bond (TAB) debt since the dissolution of redevelopment has brought challenges to communities throughout California, ranging from difficulty obtaining accurate project area information to lack of guidance regarding important issues like tax increment limitations. To aid city and county staff who are at the front lines of bond issues, the California Redevelopment Association (CRA) presented training workshops in Southern and Northern California, led by leading experts and practitioners, to provide an in-depth look at TAB bond administration, refunding and continuing disclosure issues.

David McEwen, partner at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, led the first panel: “Existing Bonds: Fitting the Square Peg into a Round Hole,” featuring presentations by Barbara Boswell, Finance Director for the City of Lancaster, and Seifel Consulting President Libby Seifel. Their session presented recommended best practices regarding how to assure sufficient revenues are available to meet bond obligations through the ROPS process, legal requirements for the use of existing bond proceeds, and what to do when the IRS comes knocking.

Other issues covered during the workshop included:

  • How State legislation has impacted tax allocation bonds and how these new legal requirements apply at the local level
  • What it takes to market tax allocation bonds in this changing environment
  • How the State Department of Finance and County Auditor Controllers evaluate bond obligations
  • How to prepare necessary technical reports including fiscal consultant and disclosure reports
  • What are the current bond disclosure policies and consequences of reporting failure, particularly given recent SEC scrutiny
  • What are the pros and cons of bond refunding

Workshop luncheon speaker Brent Hawkins, Partner at Best Best & Krieger LLP provided an update on the latest developments on State legislation and pending legal cases related to redevelopment. Joseph (Joe) Coomes and Libby Seifel also presented the findings from ULI’s upcoming publication on new tools and strategies to promote economic development and build sustainable communities.