Latest News from Seifel Consulting Inc.

In response to record growth in San Francisco’s downtown in the mid-1980s, San Francisco created the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program to preserve the City’s “unique historic, architectural and aesthetic character.” The TDR program allows property owners to transfer unused development potential from a preservation property to other properties to ultimately be used on a development property in order to increase allowable gross floor area above what would otherwise be allowed. For the past three decades, the TDR program has helped the City to accommodate growth downtown while providing owners of historic buildings with incentives to maintain cultural resources.

The San Francisco Planning Department retained the Seifel Consulting team to conduct a comprehensive review of the City’s existing TDR program and make recommendations about how best to implement it in the future, including whether to certify TDR on City owned public buildings. Seifel was asked to analyze the impact of the potential sale of TDR from public properties on the TDR market.

The Seifel team completed a comprehensive review of the City’s existing TDR program and policies, and conducted in-depth analysis on the Planning Department’s database used to track TDR certification, transfer and use. It assessed the historical pace of TDR activity, key market factors in TDR transactions, and the value of TDR to the real estate development community. To provide insight into program implementation, as well the TDR market and pricing, the team interviewed brokers and other stakeholders involved in the TDR market and prepared case studies on specific TDR transactions in San Francisco. Finally, the team researched historic preservation-related TDR programs in other cities.

Click here for a copy of the Seifel team's TDR Study, included in the July 2013 San Francisco Planning staff report.

While transit-oriented development (TOD) projects are being encouraged throughout the nation, limited financial resources are available to catalyze their development. The Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund (TOAH Fund) is an innovative $50 million public-private financing resource that provides up-front funding to catalyze the development of affordable housing, valuable community services, and other neighborhood assets near transit lines throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

The TOAH Fund was created by a collaboration of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), its partner regional planning agency (ABAG), and a dedicated core of nonprofit organizations. MTC has been at the forefront of promoting TOD in the Bay Area, and it provided the initial $10 million in seed capital that serves as the first of five components in the capital stack. According to a Fund Sponsor, “Convening a diversity of players in the affordable housing community and having partners with a high level of trust, competency and a shared understanding of goals and the need to distribute investments regionally was critical in the Fund’s formation.” To date, the Fund has awarded financing to four projects: Eddy and Taylor Family Housing (San Francisco), 5th and Howard (San Francisco), Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments (San Jose), and West Grand Development (Oakland).

The TOAH Fund, with LISC, retained Seifel and ICF International to provide program evaluation and implementation consulting services for the TOAH Fund. Their analysis is available here.

More on the TOAH fund and its mission can be found here.

Housing California’s Annual Conference, the nation’s largest annual conference on affordable housing and homelessness, gathers together advocates, consumers, builders, lenders, lawmakers, and other leaders in the field. Here, more than 75 workshops, pre-conference institutes, and over 50 exhibitors showcase their knowledge on the interrelated topics of resources for development for sustainable communities and affordable housing. In April, Libby Seifel joined Lynn Hutchins of Goldfarb & Lipman, Kara Douglas of Contra Costa County, Linda Mandolini of Eden Housing, and Johanna Gullick of Union Bank to engage with participants on the use of former redevelopment properties. Their presentation ("Former RDA Properties: Key Resource for Building Sustainable Homes and Communities") examines case studies and best practices in the development of long-range property management plans.

Click here for a copy of "Former RDA Properties: Key Resource for Building Sustainable Homes and Communities".

"We are at an exciting tipping point in the US. More people than ever are walking and bicycling in our communities. Elected leaders and businesses are realizing the value of investing in active transportation. And we’ve seen cities small and large across the country pioneering ideas like Bike Share, bike boulevards, and open streets projects that turn pavement into places for recreation and fun." - Pro Walk/Pro Bike

 Pro Walk/Pro Bike, the leading international conference on walking and bicycling, offers more than 100 program sessions, mobile workshops, and problem-solving workshops bringing together non-auto-centric transportation enthusiasts, including planners, engineers, civic leaders, government officials, public health professionals, architects, and landscape architects.

Held in sunny Long Beach, the 2012 Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference offered attendees the opportunity to network with like-minded enthusiasts, workshops, and sessions to help build coalitions, create planning initiatives and designs, and foster ways to grow the political support and funding needed to catalyze active transportation.

"Long Beach has embraced walking and bicycling as tools to improve its economic vitality, its quality-of-life, and as a way to ensure all residents are connected to a just and equitable transportation system."

- Pro Walk/Pro Bike

At the September 2012 conference, Libby Seifel joined the session "New Challenges, Tools, and Opportunities in Planning for Healthy Transportation” led by Jeremy Nelson (Principal at NelsonNygaard Transportation Consulting Associates). The panel also included Arfaraz Khambatta (Director of Access Consulting at Sally Swanson Architects Inc.), Heath Maddox (Senior Planner, Livable Streets Subdivision at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), and Jean Fraser (Chief at San Mateo County Health System).

Using successful case studies and lessons learned from communities of all sizes, the panel explored some of the challenges and opportunities in the development of healthier active transportation systems, prompting discussion on planning, outreach, and funding tools to inform planning enthusiasts of practical techniques to help in the implementation of healthy transportation policies and programs for California communities.

The National Center for Bicycling & Walking, a program of Project for Public Spaces, established the Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference in 1980. More on Pro Walk/Pro Bike and upcoming events can be found here.

On Monday, May 14, Libby Seifel joined leaders in local government, housing policy, and community economic development to conduct a panel discussion at East Bay Housing Organization's (EBHO) event "Life After Redevelopment: The Future of Affordable Housing and Community Revitalization".

Moderated by Rick Williams, Partner at Van Meter Williams Pollack, this panel presented ideas on what the next steps are for financing sources at the local, regional and state level. Joining Libby and Rick in this engaging discussion were: Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor, City of Fremont; Linda Mandolini, Executive Director, Eden Housing; Laura Simpson, Housing Division Manager, City of Walnut Creek; and Kara Douglas, Affordable Housing Program Manager, Contra Costa County.
Session information is here.

On February 22, at the CA County Property Tax Managers Association Meeting in Ontario, Libby joined fellow panelists Don Fraser, Marty Coren, and Lee Squire to present on Enforceable Obligation Payment Schedules (EOPS) and Recognized Obligation Payment Schedules (ROPS), Bond Payment Issues, and other Pass-Through Payment Issues affecting California Counties in the wake of Assembly Bill 26.

Their presentation is available here.

While 2011 saw the signing of two bills into law by Governor Jerry Brown, both affecting redevelopment agencies throughout California, affordable housing advocates and others in the development community scrambled to figure out what the future of public financing strategies would look like in post-redevelopment California.

A recent Urban Land Institute article focused on the challenges that the loss of redevelopment has brought to infill developers, particularly affordable housing developers.

"We are very concerned about the lack of affordable housing funds this will create,” says Cynthia Parker, president and chief executive officer of BRIDGE Housing, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco. “We have about 30 projects that include redevelopment money, and last year we spent a fair amount of time getting commitments in place as part of the enforceable obligations of the agency. So we have plenty of work that will be started in the next two years. But beyond that, everything becomes quite murky.”

City visionaries and infill developers across California are searching for public financing solutions and strategies to encourage new development in urban areas. In the article, Libby speaks to the possibility of alternative funding sources, particularly infrastructure financing districts (IFDs), which would allow cities and counties to issue bonds to pay for public works projects and to then use property tax increment revenues to pay back the bonds.

“Most cities in California receive only a small share of property taxes that could be dedicated to bond repayment, after excluding property taxes from educational districts,” says Libby. “And right now, if 12 or more registered voters reside within the proposed district, approval from two-thirds of all voters in the district [is required].” 

A senate bill under consideration in early 2012 would extend the deadline for the redevelopment handover process from February 1 to April 15. “There are complicated issues to resolve related to bonds and contractual obligations, including obligations to employees and their unions,” Libby continues. “A number of agreements and projects are jeopardized. More legal guidance and time [are] needed to work out the implementation details.”

Urban Land is a publication of the Urban Land Institute. More information is available here.

On July 21, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) presented a one day conference in Oakland, CA  for all its CPD and competitive grantees. Similar HUD conferences took place throughout the nation to seek innovations and collaborative solutions to the deployment of HUD programs.

Libby Seifel and Marie Munson presented "Spotlight on Redevelopment - AB1X 26 & 27: What You Need to Know". Check out the presentation here.


John Myers at KQED News and his take on the recent passage of the state budget and the issue of redevelopment...

As part of the RDA Infill Coalition, Seifel has helped prepare two letters in support of important legislation aimed at "mending" and not "ending" redevelopment in California.
The RDA Infill Coalition is a statewide group of diverse interests from the housing, environmental, transit oriented development, economic and sustainable development sectors in support of affordable housing and redevelopment agencies.
See the letter to Senator Lowenthal here
See the letter to Assemblymember Alejo here

Seifel has been working with a coalition representing housing, infill building, business, environmental, and planning groups to retain and reform redevelopment. Coalition members are supporting proposed legislation to "mend not end" redevelopment.

Assembly Bill 1250, making significant redevelopment reforms and reducing the scale of future redevelopment efforts.

Senate Bill 450, accomplishing key housing reforms to enhance the production of affordable housing, especially to those in greatest need.
Please urge your Legislators to support AB 1250 and AB 450 and preserve redevelopment, California’s largest and most successful economic development and affordable housing program.

On May 18 - 20, Libby Seifel will be joining the ULI Spring Council Forum in Phoenix. Per ULI, this year's summit looks to "bring together top decision-makers and industry experts to discuss the future of real estate and how individuals and companies can successfully adapt for what is coming."

More information on this year's summit is available at

Libby is traveling to New Orleans for the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition.  Libby's session ("Using Public Private Partnerships to Encourage Urban Infill Development") is a collaborative effort between Libby and Steven Meyers (of CaP3i), Peter Stanley and Mitch Conner (of Archilogix), and Michael Strogoff (of Strogoff Consulting).

Here's a bit of the program abstract...

The national recession has had a profound effect on the ability of municipalities and regions to invest in transportation, utilities and social infrastructure despite universal agreement of this urgent need.  While Public-Private Partnerships have a long proven record internationally, leveraging long-term private sector investment to socially benefit the public is a fairly new phenomenon in the US.

Check out the convention website here!

Libby Seifel will be leading a panel discussion on Key Principles for Successful PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) at the 2011 Housing California Conference in Sacramento on April 28. Libby will be joined by a panel including Polly Marshall of Goldfarb & Lipman, Lisa Bates of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, and Kim McKay of BRIDGE Housing. 

Public-private partnerships (PPP) provide a unique way for developers, government, and the community to work together to create innovative and sustainable urban infill developments. This interactive session will feature a lively discussion about how to structure innovative public-private partnerships that achieve “triple bottom line” results: Meet community goals, reduce our environmental footprint, and achieve financial returns. Attendees will learn how PPPs have been used to accomplish a broad range of projects, for the creation of affordable homes, mixed-use, and transit-oriented developments that incorporate green design to the redevelopment of surplus public properties and brownfield sites. 

Link to conference:


Governor Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment will be voted on soon by the Legislature. We continue to work with our clients and many coalition partners to save redevelopment—California’s largest and most successful economic development and affordable housing program. We want to share with you our key talking points on redevelopment’s benefits and why the proposed legislation is risky, flawed and costly. Like Humpty Dumpty, redevelopment cannot be put together again if eliminated on     July 1, 2011.

Please urge your Legislators to remove the elimination of redevelopment from the budget bill and refer redevelopment’s future to a Joint Legislative Committee for     thoughtful reform.
Let’s make a difference,
All of us at Seifel Consulting
Overview of Redevelopment Benefits
As a critical engine for economic growth and sustainable development in California, redevelopment:

  • Annually generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and puts Californians to work at a time when our State’s unemployment rate is over 12 percent.
  • Contributes $40 billion annually to California’s economy and generates more than $2 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.
  • Revitalizes blighted areas and catalyzes economic vitality by creating jobs, funding affordable housing, building public infrastructure improvements, and creating commercial opportunities.
  • Is a critical affordable housing program—since 1993, it has built or rehabilitated nearly 100,000 affordable housing units—helping local governments meet their housing needs.
  • Provides key tools to reclaim brownfield sites and stimulate infill development as opposed to sprawl.

Constitutional Defects of Proposed Legislation

  • Violates Article XIII, Section 25.5 (Proposition 22), which prohibits transfer of tax increment to the State, any agency of the State, or any local jurisdiction.
  • Violates Article XVI, Section 16 of the California Constitution, which established tax increment financing and requires tax increment to be paid to redevelopment agencies.
  • Violates Article XIII A, Section 1, which requires property taxes to be collected and distributed to the local districts within each county.
  • Violates federal and state provisions prohibiting the impairment of existing contractual obligations.

Serious Flaws

  • Potentially violates existing contracts by substituting “successor agency” for redevelopment agency without parties’ agreement.
  • Likely violates collective bargaining agreements covering public sector employees.

Lack of Accountability and Increased Bureaucratic Costs

  • Creates confusion regarding responsibility for managing redevelopment agency obligations.
  • Creates unelected and unaccountable Oversight Boards with inherent conflicts of interest.
  • Presents significant risks for fraud, mismanagement and litigation.
  • Creates potentially massive costs for dissolution of redevelopment agencies and creation of successor agencies.
  • Imposes significant unfunded state mandates on counties by shifting responsibilities to counties.
  • Increases potential liability of County Auditor-Controllers related to disputes over their decisions and determinations.

Poor Public Policy—Eliminates Key Tool for Housing and Economic Development

  • Obliterates long-established investment tool, creating a cloud over all local government financing.
  • Eliminates California’s largest and most successful housing and economic development program.
  • Short-circuits thoughtful, statewide discussion on redevelopment tools and reform.

Like Humpty Dumpty, redevelopment cannot be put together again if eliminated on July 1.

Libby Seifel joins the International Knowledge Team presenting at the “Practical Solutions for Delivery of Affordable Housing” conference in New Delhi, India, this November 30. Sponsored by India’s Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the conference will be an international review of affordable housing delivery, identifying best practice examples that have maximized the amount of affordable housing that can be generated with limited resources.

As background for conference participants, Seifel worked with the International Knowledge Team to prepare RICS' research paper Making Affordable Housing Work in India, which looks at previous research on the housing dynamics in India (and frameworks in comparable cities) and outlines key initiatives being undertaken by the Indian Government. The paper also examines the issues requiring immediate Government intervention. Click here for a copy of RICS' paper.

The adjustment of housing markets worldwide has called into question the viability of current policies and strategies. Consideration is being given to new and more creative delivery and partnership models to satisfy the increasing need for affordable housing worldwide.

International speakers will help set the scene for the conference, utilizing considerable experience in successful housing programs and giving examples where roadblocks to delivery were overcome. Local speakers from industry and the government/urban local bodies will participate in panel discussions sharing their experiences and best practice of affordable housing projects and also highlighting any obstacles in the current system that may be slowing or even stopping project delivery. Audience participation will encourage the consideration and debate on different solutions, drawing up potential immediate and mid-term solutions. Conference speakers and panelists include:

Representatives from the Government of India

Kumari Selja – Honorable Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Tourism

Smt. Kiran Dhingra - Secretary, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation

Sh. S. K. Singh - Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation

Sh. R. V. Verma - Chairman and Managing Director, National Housing Bank

International Experts

Mr. Stuart Woodward - Managing Director, Levvel Ltd

Mr. Thomas Davenport - Director, South Asia, IFC/The World Bank Group

Mr. Stuart Thomas - Director, Terra Housing Consultants 

Eminent Industry Speakers and Policymakers

Mr. Sanjaya Gupta - Managing Director, PNB Housing Finance Ltd.

Mr. Kumar Gera - Chairman, CREDAI

Mr. D.P. Srivastava - CEO, Affordable Housing Development

Mr. Pranav Ansal - Vice Chairman & MD, Ansal API

Mr. Firdose Vandrevala - Chairman & MD, Hirco Developments Pvt. Ltd.

Mr. Naveen Raheja - President - Housing Committee, ASSOCHAM


Click here to RSVP




We are excited to announce that UC Berkeley Extension has launched a new sustainable design program and selected “Designing Effective California Public-Private Partnerships” for this program. This course has been expanded to a two-day course and will be eligible for academic credit and continuing education credit for planners and attorneys (AICP and MCLE).

Thursday and Friday, May 13-14, 2010, 9am - 5pm


San Francisco UCB Extension, Room 206, Art and Design Center, 95 Third Street, San Francisco

Information and Registration:

Guest Lecturers: John (Jack) Nagle of Goldfarb & Lipman and Ethan Walsh of McDonough, Holland & Allen

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) provide a unique way for the government and private developers to work together to create sustainable and profitable urban infill developments. This two-day course offers practical techniques for designing, evaluating and negotiating effective PPPs. It describes how to effectively utilize California's unique legal and financial tools to accomplish a broad range of projects, from the redevelopment of surplus public properties and brownfields sites to the creation of mixed use developments that incorporate green design and mixed-income housing next to public transit.

Case studies and lectures by experts in the field offer practical techniques to understand and structure effective PPPs. Students will learn about the unique objectives and contributions of the public and private sectors in a PPP, the laws governing redevelopment-sponsored PPPs, and best legal practices in negotiating and documenting PPPs. They will also learn how to solicit, evaluate and select the right development team. The most successful PPPs effectively balance the financial objectives and needs of the public and private sector, so the course will present key fiscal and real estate concepts critical to understanding how the deal will be evaluated from both the public and private perspective. Participants will also learn how to encourage PPPs by using the unique tax increment financing tools of redevelopment, as well as other public financing techniques.

ELIZABETH (LIBBY) SEIFEL, M.C.P., AICP, is president of Seifel Consulting, an economic consulting firm. She helps private and public sector clients resolve complex urban growth issues, maximize real estate assets, and achieve fiscal goals. She has advised on more than 100 redevelopment project areas in California with projected new development values from $100 million to more than $4 billion.

Seifel has contributed to numerous publications, including analyses, articles, and presentations at regional, national and international events. Browse below for 

    Housing   Revitalization Strategies
Berkeley Brower Center / fipa_green-box_2
Oxford Plaza
  Hunters Point Shipyardfipa_green-box_2   San Francisco fipa_green-box_2
Transit Center District Plan
  Los Angeles Grand Avenuefipa_green-box_2
Client: City of Berkeley   Client: San Francisco
Redevelopment Agency
  Client: San Francisco
Planning Department
  Client: Community
Redevelopment Agency
of the City of Los Angeles