Latest News from Seifel Consulting Inc.

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 Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (Fort Mason) is a nonprofit historic center located along San Francisco’s northern waterfront in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. More than 20 nonprofit and arts organizations are permanent residents of Fort Mason, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Magic Theatre, the well-established Cowell Theater and the internationally acclaimed Greens Restaurant. 

Located in the beautifully renovated Pier 2, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is Fort Mason’s newest tenant. Working in close collaboration with Fort Mason, SFAI reinvented a 67,000-square-foot space on Pier 2 that includes more than 160 art studios for students, faculty and visiting artists, as well as 3,300 square feet of newly created public exhibition space that adjoins the existing Cowell Theater.

To celebrate its new Fort Mason Campus, SFAI held a series of grand opening events in November 2017 and commissioned artists to share new works to celebrate the new building over the next year. SFAI alum and faculty Alicia McCarthy (BFA 1994) kicked off this series with a beautiful mural of interwoven color, energy, and gesture—visible throughout the entire space and shown near the top of the accompanying photo from SFAI’s grand opening. 

Seifel Consulting gratefully acknowledges SFAI, Fort Mason and the LAI Golden Gate Chapter for hosting an event in Fall 2017 to showcase the renovation of Pier 2, which was led by William Leddy and Marsha Maytum, founding Principals at LMS Architects who creatively designed Pier 2’s sustainable renovation. We also had a wonderful time at SFAI’s grand opening celebration meeting the talented array of SFAI students and faculty who exhibited their art works throughout Pier 2.

Winners of the 2017 Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence Awards just announced! (Click here for the full listing of award recipients, care of San Francisco Business Times.)


The Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence Awards recognize women who have made outstanding contributions to the Northern California commercial real estate industry over the past 2 years. Honorees are selected by a diverse panel of industry leaders. The 2017 Award recipients are recognized at the September 13th Awards Luncheon—proudly sponsored by Allen Matkins—and are featured in the San Francisco Business Times as well as the Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence (NCRE WOI) website.


Please join Seifel in congratulating the accomplishments of these talented women and their efforts to advance the role of women in commercial real estate! The NCRE WOI 2017 Hall-of-Fame Awardees are:

  • Margo Bradish of Cox, Castle & Nicholson
  • Carla Boragno of Genentech
  • Patricia Curtin of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP
  • Shelley Doran of Webcor Builders
  • Jan Lindenthal of MidPen Housing

The 2015 NCRE WOI Hall-of-Fame Awardees included Annette Billingsley of Union Bank, Janice Sears of Essex Property Trust, Ellen Warner of Lennar Urban, and Libby Seifel of Seifel Consulting. 

“Standing Together”--NPH’s theme for their 38th annual conference--reflects a commitment among NPH members, partners, allies and the broader housing community to create an equitable, sustainable and vibrant Bay Area region through the creation and preservation of affordable housing in Northern California. NPH’s annual conference joins together affordable housing leaders, peers, developers, advocates, experts and cross-sector partners to explore the tools, knowledge and networks to foster the development of quality, affordable housing in California. 

Last year’s annual conference (“Building Opportunities”) explored strategies to “advance wins at the ballot box” for affordable housing in local communities across the Bay Area, working with coalition partners and NPH supporters to advance opportunities to increase resources for affordable housing, which resulted in many successful voter initiatives and legislation.  

Hope you can attend NPH’s 38th Annual Affordable Housing Conference on Friday, October 6, from 8am-5:30pm at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. For full details as well as tickets and sponsorship info, click here.

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 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 finding lasting housing solutions for the Bay Area.

On Tuesday, June 27, Housing the Bay presents "Housing the Missing Middle: A New Financial Frontier”, a lively discussion to share ideas, strategies and market-driven solutions for increasing middle-income housing throughout the Bay Area. With approaches ranging from impact funds to non-traditional equity sources to new statewide programs intended to spur private-sector development, this forum will explore multiple tools to finance housing in the Bay Area. Moderated by Eric Tao (AGI Avant), the four dynamic panelists will present their innovative approaches to housing the missing middle: Nicholas Targ (Holland and Knight), Rebecca Foster (San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund), Kevin Zwick (Housing Trust Silicon Valley) and Anne McCulloch (Housing Partnership Equity Trust).

“Housing the Missing Middle” takes place Tuesday, June 27 at 5pm. For complete details and registration, visit

Special thanks to SmithGroupJJR for hosting the event at their offices at 301 Battery Street. 

The Bay Area housing shortage leads many residents and businesses to cite housing affordability as the top issue facing the region. SPUR’s Tuesday, June 27 lunchtime forum poses the questions: Just how much housing does the Bay Area need to build? How much of that housing should be subsidized and for whom? Where are the opportunity sites to build?

Co-presented by the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC), SPUR’s session “How Many Homes Should We Have?” brings together private and public sector perspectives on the Bay Area’s housing challenges: Ted Egan (San Francisco Office of the Controller), Pedro Galvao (NPH), James Pappas (San Francisco Planning Department) and Libby Seifel (Seifel Consulting, active SPUR/ULI/NPH member on housing issues).

Please join the discussion on Tuesday, June 27 at 12:30pm at SPUR’s Urban Center (654 Mission Street). Tickets are free for SPUR members, $10 for non-members, and no pre-registration required. For more details/registration, visit

UPDATE (July 7, 2017)
Click here to view the entire presentation!

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)



What is the outlook for real estate after the first 100 days of the new Trump administration? How will real estate markets be affected, and more specifically, how will funding for new housing and infrastructure be impacted?


The 22nd Annual Fisher Center Real Estate Conference addressed these critical issues and others facing the real estate and development community on May 8 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. The topic-driven annual spring conference of the Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics (FCREUE) assembled an exceptional group of leaders and experienced development professionals who discussed the challenging complexities of today’s real estate markets. Included in the conference lineup was “The President’s First Hundred Days: Real Estate Impacts & the Emerging Policy Environment”. Moderated by Libby Seifel, session speakers Douglas Abbey (Chairman at Swift Real Estate Partners), Ben Metcalf (Director of California Department of Housing and Community Development) and Mike Novogradac (Partner at Novogradac & Company LLP) led the audience through an engaging discussion of how changing national policies and Federal budget priorities could impact housing and the broader real estate climate in California and across the nation.


The mission of the FCREUE is to educate students and real estate professionals and to support and conduct research on real estate, urban economics, the California economy, land use, and public policy. More on FCREUE’s activities can be found here:


Full information on the 22nd Annual Spring Conference can be found here:

Located adjacent to the intersection of Highway 101 and 85, Ameswell Mountain View is planned as a LEED Platinum office and hotel complex featuring more than 200,000 square feet of office space and 250 modern luxury hotel rooms located at the gateway to both North Bayshore and downtown Mountain View. The City of Mountain View and the developer—Broadreach Capital Partners—entered into a public private partnership for this development at 750 Moffett Boulevard in 2015. The Mountain View City Council adopted resolutions certifying the project's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), making required CEQA findings and conditionally approving its permits in October 2016. The developer is currently working on construction drawings and the final design elements. (Click here to take a virtual tour of the project!)

Seifel provided real estate and property development advisory services to the City in support of the 7-acre, City-owned Moffett Gateway property (now Ameswell Mountain View). Collaborating with David Babcock and Associates (DBA) who provided urban design services, Seifel evaluated the financial feasibility of alternative development scenarios and recommended the consideration of office, hotel and retail uses at the site. Seifel subsequently advised the City on the developer solicitation process, helping to prepare the Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals, in collaboration with City staff, Maurice Robinson & Associates and Baker Street Associates. Seifel facilitated the developer evaluation process and advised the City on selection of the Broadreach development team and on the subsequent negotiation process for the area. (See here more on Seifel’s services to Mountain View for this and other projects.)

Check out the City of Mountain View’s webpage for more on the project.

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.

The past year was tumultuous, marked by the passing of many iconic figures that have shaped our times. As 2017 begins, we want to take a moment to remember six inspirational lives and share some of their most poignant messages for our future. 
Change is in the air, and we must all choose how we will respond to these disruptive times. As Gwen Ifill demonstrated so eloquently, our democracy depends on how well we engage and learn from one another. Despite the constant rhetoric that surrounds us, we must be even more committed to listen, learn and engage in caring conversations with people from all walks of life and perspectives, as only together can we move forward in a positive way. 

Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation. Gwen Ifill


David Bowie really did seem to be a “man who fell to earth” rather than being born here. His extra-terrestrial inspiration, pioneering music and eccentric persona propelled our thinking in new directions. He revealed the power that comes from embracing both our masculine and feminine sides, and his outsize personality demonstrated why being different is a gift not a burden. May we all have the freedom to be our eccentric selves like David Bowie!


I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity. David Bowie


Elie Wiesel vowed never to forget the first night at Auschwitz that turned his life in the labor camp into one long night of horrors. He dedicated his life to fighting injustice and promoting world peace through his writing, teaching and Foundation for Humanity. As the Nobel citation honoring him stated: “His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief.” His message that we have the power to transform darkness into light is a spiritual call to us all. 


Even in darkness it is possible to create light. Elie Wiesel


Growing up in the segregated south, Cassius Clay Jr. (Muhammad Ali) wasn’t afraid to fight. He used his talents not only in the boxing ring to become a world champion but to fight for social change, exemplified by his refusal to be drafted in to the Vietnam War. He devoted his life to helping those in need, traveling around the world as a UN messenger of peace, and to promoting special causes near to his heart, like the Special Olympics. His wife Lonnie says that Ali wants us to remember him as a person who never became embittered enough to quit or to engage in violence despite the many injustices he experienced. Let’s all remember him by keeping the good fight going and always making our days count. 


Don't count the days, make the days count. Muhammad Ali


Cannot remember Leonard Cohen without thinking about how Judy Collins resonated his poems to life. As the song goes, Leonard Cohen truly was a bird on the wire, who tried in his way to be free. By the freedom and power of his words, he will continue to sing on in our hearts and minds, reminding us that we can always transform and evolve by acting out who we want to become. 


Act the way you’d like to be, and soon you’ll be the way you act. Leonard Cohen


In her recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Carrie Fisher reminisced on filming Star Wars and told Terry that she had melded with Princess Leia over time. “I like how she handles things. I like how she treats people….[S]he tells the truth…and gets what she wants done.” As we move into this new era of change, may we be inspired to explore our internal and external worlds, get things done by treating people well, and always find our calm within the storm. 
Writing is a very calming thing for me. Carrie Fisher

As we move forward into 2017, let’s commit ourselves to:

  • Embrace change
  • Engage in thoughtful conversations
  • Celebrate our differences
  • Create light out of darkness
  • Make the days count
  • Act the way we want to be
  • Get great things done by treating people well
  • Commit to doing what feeds our souls and calms our minds

Thanks to all of you for collaborating with us over the years, and look forward to working with you to catalyze positive change in 2017.

In the words of the Dalai Lama

When we feel responsible, concerned and committed, we begin to feel deep emotion and great courage. 


Let us all redouble our commitment to making the world a better place for everyone’s children. 


During 2016, we at Seifel increased our professional and personal contributions to organizations that feed the hungry, provide affordable housing, support women around the globe, deliver in-depth news coverage, feature inspirational stories and music, and promote good government, visionary planning and sustainable development.


Change is in the air. 


The future is in our hands. 


Be sure to download a copy of our 2017 Seifel Calendar (click here).


The American Planning Association (APA) recently awarded Alameda County the Northern Section Award for Excellence in Economic Planning and Development for the Ashland and Cherryland Business District Specific Plan and Code (ACBDSP). Adopted by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in December 2015 by a unanimous vote, ACBDSP builds on and empowers the original Specific Plan by encouraging sustainable economic growth while outlining priorities for implementation. 


Seifel served on the multidisciplinary team (led by Lisa Wise Consulting) responsible for developing a community-driven vision and implementation plan for the Plan Area and updating the 1995 Specific Plan. The team's work emphasized economic revitalization through place-making, innovative implementation strategies, creative marketing, branding, public improvement programs, multimodal transportation plan, robust community outreach and form-based code.


The consultant team of experts also included Opticos Design, Fehr & Peers, Rincon Consultants, Local Government Commission, Seifel Consulting, MJB Consulting and JWC Urban Design.


A copy of the adopted plan and code document is available here.


And be sure to check out NorCal APA's awards page, here.

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


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.

While macro demographic, economic and societal trends continue to improve the prospects for California cities, not all will benefit to the same degree. This Thursday’s "Urban Economic Revival in California" session, held at the California Society of Municipal Analysts (CSMA) conference in Napa, will explore the underlying conditions and local government and private sector actions associated with cities like San Diego and San Francisco, whose economic outlooks continue to improve. The session will posit and address questions such as “Given the dissolution of redevelopment, how do cities attract private investment and employers to help revitalize older cities?” “Would a continuing drought affect the mix of urban versus suburban/exurban development?”

Joining Libby on "Urban Economic Revival in California" are Karen Ribble (Fitch Ratings) and John Shirey (City of Sacramento). Established in 1986, the California Society of Municipal Analysts (CSMA) is a non-profit organization that fosters professional development through discussions, meetings and presentations of issues relevant to municipal credit analysis.

Click here for the final agenda for this Thursday, November 5 conference.

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

Moderated by Linda Wheaton of California Department of Housing & Community Development and featuring Allison Albericci of Owings & Merrill, LLP, Eve Stewart of Satellite Affordable Housing Associates and Libby Seifel of Seifel Consulting, "Density and Development: Supporting Transit and Livable Communities" examines and illustrates how density and affordable/mixed use housing work together toward livable, transit-supportive and sustainable communities. Part of an educational forum coordinate by the California Department of Transportation (CDOT), the presentation describes the density thresholds and development characteristics necessary to support key amenities and frequent transit service, as well as the critical role affordable housing plays in supporting these objectives.

Planning Horizons is an educational forum coordinated by the CDOT Workforce Development Branch, with speakers selected from both within Caltrans and the greater planning community. More information is on the program is available here

San Francisco: one of the hottest housing markets in the nation, where housing demand has surged along with job growth (about 30,000 new jobs since 2012), largely fueled by the rapid rise in “knowledge sharing” companies, like Salesforce, Twitter, AirBnB and LinkedIn. While 2014 was a banner year for housing construction in San Francisco (2,500+ housing units underway), the dramatic decline in construction during the recession means housing supply has not kept pace with demand.

There are only 2.1 months of remaining inventory for condominiums—one of the lowest inventory levels since 2008, says Chris Foley of Polaris. Chris presented an overview of the San Francisco housing market at the recent SPUR panel, “Housing Forecast: 2015” presented in conjunction with the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SF HAC) and the San Francisco AIA. Chris estimates that San Francisco currently has a shortfall in housing supply of 15,175 housing units.

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s (OEWD’s) Sarah Dennis-Phillips presented that San Francisco’s population is projected to grow by about 250,000 people over the next 25 years. To help meet future housing demand, the Mayor of San Francisco has established a goal to produce 30,000 units by 2020, of which 30% would be permanently affordable and 50% would be within the financial reach of working, middle income families. The City has established a housing meter that counts housing projects as they are completed, helping San Francisco to track its progress.

Libby Seifel presented an overview of Seifel’s recent work for the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) to evaluate the “State of the Housing Market” in San Francisco. Seifel recently updated its 2012 Briefing Book, which profiles the City’s demographic and housing market trends, with a special focus on evaluating how recent changes in the housing market affect underserved low, moderate and middle income households. In addition, Libby described Seifel’s recent work with David Baker Architects to evaluate how density bonuses might be used

Tim Colen of SF HAC served as panel moderator, and Meg Spriggs of Shorenstein provided insights about how developers are viewing today’s and tomorrow’s San Francisco housing market. As presented in the panel, many local developers are now looking at development opportunities in Oakland and Emeryville, where a recent surge in home prices and rents has enhanced the financial feasibility of new development.

The discussion ended with the conclusion that San Francisco needs to pursue a broad variety of strategies to increase the pace of development, as well as pursue new funding sources to help assure that the majority of new housing is affordable to the City’s diverse population.

Top image courtesy of Flickr user Jeremy Brooks

The MIT Center for Real Estate (MITCRE) hosted its Alumni West Coast Back-to-School day in January 2015. Held at the Pier 1 headquarters of Prologis (in their graciously-donated meeting space), the event gave attendees the opportunity to hear from current MIT faculty on latest research and to hear from alumni and industry leaders on the important work they are stewarding. Patrick Kennedy ’85 of Panoramic Interests and Professor Albert Saiz, Director at MITCRE, opened the event. 

Sessions panelists included alumni and industry leaders, who spoke to the complexities of large real estate ventures and on current real estate market innovations.  

The panel “Ballot Box Entitlements” (moderated by Ted Horton ’87) explored the role that the voter plays in helping bring large-scale real estate projects online. The session featured Mary Murphy of Gibson Dunn, Alexa Arena of Forest City Enterprises and Diane Oshima of the Port of San Francisco, as well as MIT alum Libby Seifel.

In her presentation “IT Infrastructure & Asset Value Premia”, Dr. Andrea Chegut, Research Associate at MITCRE, explored the developing role of IT infrastructure in commercial development and how developers are rethinking the technology footprint of their projects.

The session “JV Profit Splits Fairness Framework”, presented by MITCRE faculty Tod McGrath and David Geltner, examined the fairness of joint-venture relationships between institutional money partners and managing partners in real estate development. 

Industry veterans (from both sides of real estate deals) discussed the usefulness and application of Professor Geltner’s research on a broad variety of recent real estate deals. 

“Crowdfunding for Real Estate Equity”, whose panelists included Bonnie Burgett of Sourced Capital, Adam Hooper of Real Crowd, Rodrigo Nino of Prodigy Network and Tom Lockhard of Fundrise looked at the emergence of crowdfunding as a powerful tool in the promotion and financing of healthy development. 

Full event agenda is available here.

Founded in 1983 by an MIT alum Charles “Hank” Spaulding (CE ’51), MITCRE provides tomorrow’s real estate practitioners with a foundation to help traverse and transform a complex and global real estate market. More about the program can be found here.

Etsy, the online global marketplace for artists, artisans and collectors, is transforming how people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods. Etsy currently boasts over 40 million members and is active in 200 countries with annual transactions.

Etsy’s mission is to re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world. Etsy practices its mission in all it does and in its work environment. Etsy is headquartered in Brooklyn, in the affectionately-named neighborhood of “DUMBO” (short for “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass”). The company lives its mission, as ULI members saw firsthand during a recent tour of Etsy headquarters at the finish of the ULI Fall Meeting & Urban Land Expo (held this year in New York City).

Coordinated by Janet Protas and Libby, the private tour offered ULI women the opportunity to see the daily workings of the online commerce company that boasted over $1 billion total merchandise sales in 2013. ULI members also got a chance to meet Etsy’s public policy group to learn about Etsy’s mission to help disadvantaged crafters become successful Etsy sellers.

Etsy is increasingly promoting and training local manufacturers and artisans across the country to sell their goods on line. SFMade, one of Etsy’s key local partners, boasts a similar mission in building and supporting a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco. Former Seifel staff member, Abbie Wertheim, is working with Etsy to coordinate national efforts to support manufacturing with the Urban Manufacturing Alliance.

Our mission is to re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world. - Etsy

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.


The “sharing economy,” also known as the collaborative economy or peer economy, has grown from informal connections between people who share what they already have—cars, homes, tools, skills–to an emerging, multi-billion dollar business sector that is facilitating millions of “collaborative consumption” transactions across the globe each day. Utilizing technology and social media to connect suppliers and consumers, companies such as Airbnb, City CarShare, Lyft, RelayRides, Shareable, Taskrabbit, Vayable, ZipCar— many of whom are headquartered in San Francisco—are also creating an increasing number of jobs and economic benefits to the local economy.

San Francisco recently announced the nation’s first-ever policy group aimed at evaluating the economic benefits, key players, and emerging policy issues surrounding the growing “sharing economy”. Headed by Mayor Ed Lee and comprised of Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Supervisors Mark Farrell, Jane Kim, and Scott Wiener the group will consider the implications of the sharing economy on San Francisco. “The Sharing Economy is promoting sustainability and creating new economic opportunities for San Franciscans across the socio-economic spectrum,” says Chiu. “It’s time for San Francisco to take a comprehensive look at our existing laws and regulations to consider this innovative new economy’s benefits while addressing real community impacts and concerns.”

On Tuesday, June 10, San Francisco Planning & Urban Research (SPUR) and Airbnb presented an evening discussion “Empowering the Local Economy”, hosted by Airbnb and sponsored by the Koret Foundation. This sold-out event featured five panelists—including Seifel President Libby Seifel—who explored how policymakers and citizens alike are taking part in this new manifestation of local economic activation. Panelists included:

  • Event moderator Diana Lind serves as Executive Director & Editor in Chief of Next City, a nonprofit media organization dedicated to inspiring social, economic and environmental change in cities through daily online content, a weekly series of investigative articles (Forefront), and various outreach initiatives.
  • Janet Lees, Senior Director at SFMade, a San Francisco-based non-profit focused on building San Francisco’s economic base through development of the local manufacturing sector, engaging with entrepreneurs and growing small companies while offering technical assistance and connecting companies to powerful local resources.
  • Anita Roth, Head of Policy Research at Airbnb, the San Francisco-based community marketplace for accommodations worldwide, connecting travelers in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries.
  • Milicent Johnson, Director of Partnerships and Community Building at Peers, a member-driven organization that supports the sharing economy movement.

Libby Seifel spoke to the implications and opportunities that the sharing economy has for San Francisco, how this new economic activity makes use of “surplus capacity", and ways in which San Francisco can respond to the changing nature of the local economy. Libby also pointed to SPUR's The Urban Future of Work for its exploration of strategies for expanding San Francisco's economy while focusing on sustainability.

More on this SPUR event is available here.

Collaborative consumption is reinventing the way we live–and San Francisco is at the epicenter of the movement. This has the potential to be a source of great economic strength, as we translate our urban efficiency and creativity into new tools that the rest of the country can benefit from.
-Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director, SPUR