News at ABAG


Posted Friday, January 22, 2016

San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habit Restoration Measure


On January 13, 2016, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority's Board unanimously voted to place a funding measure on the June 7, 2016 ballot in the nine-county Bay Area to generate funds to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is a regional government agency charged with raising and allocating resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority authorized a parcel tax of $12 per year to raise approximately $25 million annually for twenty years with independent citizen oversight, audits, and all funds staying local. Through the parcel tax, revenue would be allocated to projects in each of the San Francisco Bay Area's nine counties. Anticipated project types include ecosystem restoration, flood protection, and recreation enhancement designed to provide wetland habitat for wildlife and improve flood risk management. Grant funds would be allocated for projects to conduct restoration and enhancement of creek mouth habitats for birds, fish, and water quality, as well as flood protection in regionally significant watersheds.

The San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program is designed to protect the San Francisco Bay for future generations by reducing trash, pollution and harmful toxins, improving water quality, restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, protecting communities from floods, and increasing shoreline public access.

Taking action now will ensure that we have the resources to prevent urban runoff from polluting the Bay, preserve critical habitat for fish and wildlife, enhance public access to open spaces, and protect homes and infrastructure from flooding.

For more information visit the website at http://sfbayrestore.org/ or contact the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority at info@sfbayrestore.org.


Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New San Francisco Bay Trail Website Unveiled


Shoreline adventurers now have a new resource for trip planning and inspiration with the recent launch of an updated San Francisco Bay Trail website, http://www.baytrail.org. The easy-to-navigate site is packed with recommended excursions for walking, bicycling, birding, picnicking, dog walking and learning in places of solitude or lively destinations. Funded in part by a grant from the State Coastal Conservancy, the new website tells the story of the Bay Trail through beautiful photographs and detailed maps to entice people to explore the shoreline on their own or as part of a group event. With 343 miles of Bay Trail in place throughout all nine Bay Area counties, there is much to discover. The new website aims to raise awareness about the San Francisco Bay Trail and the efforts to close the remaining gaps in what will someday be a 500-mile continuous shoreline trail.

Posted Thursday, December 17, 2015

Embezzled FAN Funds to be Restored, Internal Investigation Report Released



Clarke J. Howatt, a former employee of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and former Secretary to ABAG's Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations (FAN) is pleading guilty to one count of federal wire fraud in connection with embezzling $3.9 million. FAN and ABAG have announced they have obtained restitution funds from Howatt to enable all the impacted accounts to be refunded, and are in the process of doing so.

In late January 2015, ABAG learned Howatt had stolen $1.3 million from a bank account holding proceeds of bonds issued by FAN to fund public improvements for the Rincon Hill development in San Francisco. FAN and ABAG immediately contacted the U. S. Attorney's office and the FBI to share resources and information. and took action to restore the entire $1.3 million taken from the Rincon Hill account.

Howatt cooperated fully in the investigation and criminal proceedings conducted by the U.S. Attorney and FBI. In addition to the $1.3 million Rincon Hill theft, Howatt admitted to embezzling approximately $2.6 million from bank accounts established in connection with bonds to fund public improvements for the Windemere Ranch development in Contra Costa County.

In March, FAN and ABAG retained the law firm of Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe (Orrick) to lead its investigative effort. Now that the federal investigation has concluded, FAN and ABAG are releasing a report prepared by Orrick on the results of their investigation (see link below).

Executive Director Ezra Rapport said,"The accounts embezzled by a former employee will be restored in full. ABAG wishes to thank the U. S. Attorney's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their prompt and thorough attention to this matter. We are committed to protecting and preserving public funds and we will be working to put into place remedial measures recommended by Orrick that will enhance our ability to detect and avert any future theft."

Full Press Release
http://www.abag.ca.gov/rss/pdfs/FinalFANRelease.pdf

ABAG FAN Investigation Report
http://www.abag.ca.gov/rss/pdfs/ABAGFANReport.pdf

ABAG FAN Internal Control Recommendation http://www.abag.ca.gov/rss/pdfs/ABAGFANRecommendations.pdf

Posted Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting Ready for El Niño: Briefing for Cities and Counties


Hosted by your local Council of Governments

A strong El Niño may bring us plenty of stormy weather this winter.
You've heard the forecasts: Godzilla. Record-breaking. Too big to fail. But there's no need to get scared — there are tools to make sure cities, counties, and their residents are prepared ahead of the storms.

The Association of Bay Area Governments, in collaboration with the California Office of Emergency Services, is convening panels to discuss resources, preparations by utilities, what the state can offer cities and counties, and the actions each city should be taking to weather El Niño.

Wednesday, December 16th from 2 to 4 pm at the Oakland Museum. This program is offered at no charge. Space is limited, so register soon. http://abag.ca.gov/resilience/el_nino_2015.html

Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2015

ABAG Awarded Grants to Boost Region-wide Resilience to
Earthquakes, Fires, and Climate Change Impacts



The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) was awarded $1.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) for 2016 and 2017 to boost region wide investment in resilience and recovery from earthquakes, fires, climate change impacts and related natural disasters. These funds will leverage 2015 grants from FEMA for $300,000, along with an $86,000 U.S. Geological Survey grant, and a $75,000 grant from the Sustainable Growth Council. "ABAG will have resources to help cities and counties improve housing resilience and work on the social and economic challenges associated with earthquakes, fires, and climate change impacts," says Ezra Rapport, ABAG Executive Director.

Key areas to be addressed through the grants include planning for safe sustainable housing, developing updated building codes, and supporting financial incentives for home-owners to retrofit. The focus of the Rockefeller grant is to ensure information exchange among the three cities that are part of Rockefeller's international 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative and to establish a linkage between the 100RC cities (San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley) and all Bay Area cities. Soft story building safety, energy assurance planning, and incentives for resilience policies are program focuses.

ABAG is developing a network of resilience policy with other Councils of Governments and the Governor's Office of Planning & Research and will guide the region on how to be more disaster resilient using the policies outlined in the Loma Prieta 25 report, ABAG's policy agenda developed in 2014. The goal is to equip cities and counties with built in disaster resilience mechanisms so that they are better prepared to recover and rebuild quickly after disasters. ABAG will develop a visual map of the regional resilience programs in the Bay Area to streamline research and technical support for cities involved in disaster and climate action plans.

A toolkit of technical and policy support is being developed to help cities and counties. Technical work involves identifying hazards and resilience strategies and retrofitting homes to make them more disaster resilient, and implementing improved public safety through the development of a regional lifelines council and regional resilience index.

A Drought Summit will be convened in 2016. Grants will enable the development of new special studies on drought and urban wildland fire and risk in the Bay Area. In the coming year, ABAG will be heavily involved in supporting sustainable and safe development tied in with the Sustainable Communities Strategy (Senate Bill 75).

Information on specific workshop and services for jurisdictions, as well as maps and tools for the public, will be available on the ABAG Resilience Program website at: resilience.abag.ca.gov. For more information about the 100 Resilient Cities program, visit the website at: www.100resilientcities.org.

Founded in 1961, ABAG is the official regional planning agency for the 101 cities and towns, and nine counties of the Bay Area and is recognized as the first council of governments in California.

Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First Public Art Dedication on the San Francisco Bay Trail
at Mariner Park in Redwood City



A new art project on the San Francisco Bay Trail will launch on Sunday, October 25th at 3:00 p.m. at Mariner Park in Redwood City with an unveiling and dedication of a unique functional public art sculpture. The free event will include food, live music, and presentations by Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee, Parks, Recreation & Community Services Director Chris Beth, art curator Lance Fung, and San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum. The installation of this artwork highlights a new partnership between the City of Redwood City, Fung Collaboratives, the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation, and the Association of Bay Area Governments' Bay Trail Project.

"Redwood City is dedicating the first of what we anticipate will be many exhibits along the Bay Trail as part of a new regional art initiative," says Laura Thompson, Bay Trail Project Manager. The Bay Trail Project is in the early stages of creating a regional public art program in partnership with shoreline cities called Migrations. Fung Collaboratives is the organization contracted to oversee and curate the ongoing Migration series. This program promotes art exhibits along the trail and creates unique experiences for trail and art enthusiasts along the Bay Area shoreline.

The community is invited to participate in the art celebration on October 25th. This event is hosted by Redwood City and the artwork is sponsored by the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation. The unveiling of the artistic benches will take place Sunday, October 25th at three parks in Redwood City, with the celebration culminating at Mariner Park at 3:00 p.m.

"Redwood City is very pleased to be the first shoreline city to partner with the Association of Bay Area Governments' Bay Trail Project," said Jeff Gee, City of Redwood City mayor. "Public art in public spaces and along our trail system is a tremendous way to connect our community to the outdoors and to experience art at the same time."

The artistic benches that will be dedicated on October 25th were created during three "Harambee" (meaning 'all pull together' in Swahali) events by emerging artist Michael Koliner with help from community members of all ages taking part in a mud dance (stomping in mud) to make cob-adobe used for art benches. The three Harambee events this past weekend brought together over 250 residents and participants to help the artist at Andrews Spinas Park, Mariner Park, and Mezes Park.

October 25th Unveiling Event Details include:
Andrew Spinas Park (2nd Avenue & Bay Road) Unveiling at 9:00 a.m.
Mezes Park (Warren Avenue & Standish Street) Unveiling at 12:00 p.m.
*Mariner Park (Tiller Lane & Bridge Parkway) Unveiling and presentations from elected officials at 3:00 p.m.

Overview of Migrations
Migrations will create destination art experiences along existing sections of the Bay Trail that appeal to a broad audience, encouraging people to gather, connect and experience something new and inspiring along the shoreline, linked by over 340 miles of Bay Trail in all nine Bay Area Counties. Migrations has the potential to involve 47 shoreline cities, nine counties, local, regional, state and national parks, ports, marinas and other shoreline management agencies, reinforcing the connectivity between cities and promoting the trail as a unique destination for art enthusiasts. Cities will serve as hosts of the artwork and will work closely with ABAG and Fung Collaboratives to initiate and implement art exhibits.

Association of Bay Area Governments
Founded in 1961, ABAG is the official regional planning agency for the 101 cities and towns, and nine counties of the Bay Area and is recognized as the first council of governments in California.

Redwood City
The City of Redwood City is a San Francisco Bay Area community located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the technology-rich region extending from the San Francisco shoreline to the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Redwood City is the third largest city within the County of San Mateo, with over 84,000 residents. The city enjoys an average of 255 sunny days a year, which it boasts via the city slogan: "Climate Best by Government Test". Incorporated in 1867, Redwood City is home to the San Mateo County History Museum (located in the county's old courthouse) and the only active deep water port within the south bay of San Francisco. The city's vibrant downtown, quickly becoming known as the entertainment hub of the San Francisco Peninsula, offers residents, visitors, and businesses a unique retail, entertainment, and restaurant experience. For more information, visit the City of Redwood City's website at www.redwoodcity.org or follow @RedwoodCity on Twitter.

For more information visit, www.redwoodcity.org/publicart.


Posted Friday, October 16, 2015

LA Passes Tough Seismic Retrofit Legislation - Bay Area Opportunities


The City of Los Angeles has unanimously approved the nation’s toughest seismic legislation, requiring that approximately 15,000 buildings, both concrete and wood framed, be retrofitted to handle violent shaking.

The challenge for Bay Area communities is to enact standards for existing and new buildings that ensure communities can quickly recover from earthquakes; to develop financing tools to pay for improving seismic safety; and to ensure coordinated improvements of essential infrastructure. Speedy recovery requires that vulnerable buildings and lifeline systems are upgraded so that homes remain livable and businesses are operational.

In 2014, the Loma Prieta 25th Anniversary Symposium (LP25) marked the launch of a three-year public policy program to improve state and local laws that address community safety and resilience. The LP25 Steering Committee developed the following policy recommendations, informed by the Northridge 20th Anniversary Symposium Summary Report, which was also developed in 2014.

The LP25 Symposium promoted a legislative program with these goals:
• Update building codes. Adopt building code standards to improve the seismic performance of new and existing buildings and ensure that building codes meet community performance expectations.
• Upgrade vulnerable apartments and condominiums. Enact statewide guidelines for the identification, evaluation, and retrofit of seismically unsafe apartment and condominium buildings.
• Develop financial incentives. Establish regional financial incentive programs for improving the seismic safety of apartments and condominium buildings.
• Convene lifeline providers and cities. Establish a State Lifelines Council and convene regional Lifeline Councils in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Southern California.

Seismic and policy experts defined these four actions as critical next steps to achieve in the near future that could launch widespread implementation throughout the Bay Area; however resilience-building is an ongoing activity that will require more effort beyond these near term actions.

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) serves as the public policy hub with its member cities, towns, and counties to implement these policy actions, and will work to incorporate these policies into other regional planning efforts. The ABAG Regional Planning Committee endorsed the LP25 policy measures in October 2014, and recommended their adoption by the ABAG Executive Board, which unanimously approved the policies in January 2015.

The LP25 Policy Action Report was recently posted to ABAG’s website and is available at http://resilience.abag.ca.gov/wp-content/documents/LP25/LP25_PolicyActions.pdf

Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2015

ABAG Releases Preliminary Update to 2013 Projections
Economy, Population, and Housing Projections for Discussion



The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) proposed preliminary revised projections for the Plan Bay Area 2040 update. Population is projected to rise from 7.2 million in 2010 to 9.4 million in 2040, employment from 3.4 million in 2010 to 4.6 million in 2040, and households from 2.6 million in 2010 to 3.4 million in 2040. These levels are a slight increase from ABAG's previous forecast, released in 2013, ranging from a 1.5 percent increase in population over the Projections 2013 level, a 2.1 percent increase in employment projections and a 2.4 percent increase in household projections.

The preliminary projections also include a regional housing control total of 3.6 million housing units, which covers not only housing for the higher household count but additional units to mitigate an estimated increase in commute flow (requirement of a legal settlement with the Building Industry Association after Plan Bay Area 2013). Housing unit projections are 4.2 percent higher (147,001 more units, which includes the legally required 28,000 units to offset the projected in-commute numbers) than in Plan Bay Area 2013.

ABAG's projections are being updated as part of a minor update to Plan Bay Area. The projections update recognizes changing information on economic conditions and population growth in the region over the past five years and also applies new analytic tools. ABAG is releasing these preliminary projections to the ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Committee (MTC) committees to provide opportunity for review, comment and discussion before the numbers are finalized for the Plan Bay Area 2040.

According to ABAG's Chief Economist, Cynthia Kroll, "This preliminary update is one of many futures possible for the Bay Area. Developed through various methodologies, what we are calling ABAG 2017p, reflects an economy that continues to grow, but not always at the rate experienced from 2010 to 2015. After the boom of the past five years (when recovery from a recession mixed with new industry expansion), the region's employment growth rate could slow compared to the nation for some period. Over the longer term, population and housing will also need to expand to enable the region to maintain a competitive edge."

What Do These Numbers Mean
Building on the completed State of the Region report released in March 2015, these modified projections frame the regional forecast for the 2017 update of Plan Bay Area. "We are seeking a 'realistic' set of numbers, meaning a projection that could reasonably occur given feasible relaxation of our most constraining limitations. At the same time, Plan Bay Area is aspirational and intentional, prescribing policies to help overcome barriers and allow housing, household, population and job growth," commented Kroll.

How Were the Preliminary Numbers Developed
ABAG used a suite of tools and in-house analytic models to develop a range of projections for employment, population and household growth. ABAG staff also worked with consultants John Pitkin of AFI and Dowell Myers of the University of Southern California on population analysis and with Stephen Levy of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy on the employment analysis. Selection of a preliminary projection from the range of projections relied on feedback from the ABAG's Technical Advisory Committee and consultation with senior and executive staff within the two regional agencies primarily responsible for Plan Bay Area 2040.

These preliminary numbers were presented to the ABAG-MTC Joint Administrative and Planning Committee on October 9, 2015. Committee members discussed the importance of understanding the details of the forecast around these changes, which impacts housing demand, as well the changes in job types available, which then influence income opportunities and the ability to pay for homes. Discussion also highlighted the link between housing supply and employment growth. Cynthia Kroll responded to questions by pointing out that if the housing forecast cannot be reached, employment growth could also be lower than estimated in these preliminary projections. Additional information about the preliminary numbers is available on ABAG's website, at http://abag.ca.gov/planning/research/Memo_PBA_Draft_Regional_Forecast_1.pdf

Plan Bay Area
Plan Bay Area is the region's long-range transportation and housing plan with the long-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light-duty trucks, house the region's projected population, improve public health and maintain and improve the region's transportation infrastructure, and open space. Developed by ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and adopted in July 2013, the Plan is currently undergoing a minor revision. More information is available at http://planbayarea.org/plan-bay-area.html.


Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Study on Benefits of Transit Oriented Affordable Housing Development



The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Resources for Community Development (RCD) have released a new study of the role of affordable housing in Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas. Over the past decade, TOD has become an important strategy for providing affordable housing while also promoting smart growth. Through a survey of affordable housing residents, Transit Oriented Development and Affordable Housing: A Survey of Residents in Five East Bay Properties examines whether living in TOD areas can combine broader goals of improving housing affordability and providing other social and economic equity advantages, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from travel.

RCD Executive Director, Dan Sawislak, commented on the study's value, stating, "With California's mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly through reduction of Vehicle Miles Travelled, what residents of multi-family housing have to say is an important addition to the discussion. Their experience shows the value of combining affordable multi-family housing with accessibility to transit and services as a strategy that impacts both housing affordability in California and greenhouse gas reduction."

The study was conducted over the course of six months, collecting responses from over 200 East Bay households at five affordable housing developments, two in TOD locations and three in less centralized places. Residents described how and when they use cars or public transit, where they go, how far they travel, and how they perceive the advantages of where they live. In addition, the study found that a combination of travel alternatives, locations near a denser population of employers, and property and community assistance services can improve employment options for affordable housing residents.

These implications point toward ways in which state and local policies can have an even greater impact in addressing both housing affordability and environmental sustainability. See the full study here.

The San Francisco Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Association of Bay Area Governments Finance Authority provided support for this study.

Association of Bay Area Governments
Founded in 1961, ABAG is the official regional planning agency for the 101 cities and towns, and nine counties of the Bay Area and is recognized as the first council of governments in California.

Resources for Community Development
Founded in 1984, RCD has built over 2,200 units of housing and serves over 4,000 low- and very-low income individuals and families in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano counties. RCD's mission is to create and preserve affordable housing for those with the fewest options, to build community and enrich lives. For more information, visit www.rcdhousing.org.


Posted Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Grants for Resilience Program Activities



ABAG's Resilience Program announces two new grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in support of mitigation planning to reduce the impacts of current and future natural hazards, and recovery planning to rebuild quickly after a disaster. As a national leader among Councils of Governments, ABAG's Resilience Program has secured six grants totaling $1,103,308 in the last three years, and the new grants from Rockefeller Foundation for $300,000 and from FEMA for $1,370,000.

The focus of the Rockefeller grant is to assure information exchange among the three cities that are part of Rockefeller's international 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative, and linkage between the 100RC cities (San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley) and the rest of the region. The FEMA grant provides resources to regionalize the effort. The 100RC initiative is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. ABAG Resilience Program will provide technical assistance in support of 100RC in the Bay Area from July 2015 and continuing through June 2017.

The scope of work funded by the two new grants includes analyzing and disseminating best practices; serving as a regional coordination hub; assisting with the development of resilience plans, initiatives, financing mechanisms, and innovative policies - all especially as related to residential soft story building safety, energy assurance planning, finance incentives for housing safety, and assessing regional lifeline system vulnerability. The two grants are complementary.

Creating a sustainable region requires mitigation planning to reduce the impacts of future earthquakes and other natural hazards, and recovery planning to rebuild quickly after the disaster. For more information about the 100 Resilient Cities program, visit the website at:www.100resilientcities.org and for more information about ABAG's Resilience Program visit the website at: resilience.abag.ca.gov.

Posted Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New microsite for the People, Places, and Prosperity Report



Designed to help readers to imagine what our diverse communities have in common: San Francisco Bay Area -- People, Places, and Prosperity will be released at the September’s Executive Board meeting. The microsite is available now at:http://reports.abag.ca.gov/ppp/2015/.

The people that live and work in the Bay Area-are connected by complex webs of housing markets, job locations and commute patterns, and environmental systems. The report provides a set of proposals for making our region a more resilient, equitable place with a diverse economy. It is the start of a discussion that will help shape regional actions to address our most pressing challenges. It will also help shape Plan Bay Area 2040-our region's second Sustainable Communities Strategy.

Please share your comments with us and share the report with your colleagues and community members. We value your input and look forward to ongoing collaboration to build a stronger Bay Area.

Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GO LOCAL Sonoma is a Big Win for Local Business, Residents, and Consumers



Sonoma County's GO LOCAL Cooperative is a network of local businesses, residents, and nonprofits that support local sustainable businesses. Through its innovative and exclusive rewards program, card holders earn bucks and receive rebates on everyday purchases, goods, and services from multiple local merchants and businesses in the North Bay. These significant changes strengthen economic power by supporting local, independently owned businesses, and promoting sustainable practices in the North Bay. Sonoma County's GO LOCAL Cooperative helps create local jobs, and reduce reliance on carbon-intensive imports, to build a resilient, thriving, local economy.

To learn more about Sonoma County's locally-owned businesses and services visit sonomacounty.golocal.coop.

Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Partnership to Advance Climate Action in the Bay Area
Association of Bay Area Governments Partners with CivicSpark



The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) was selected as the Bay Area regional partner for CivicSpark, a Governor's Initiative AmeriCorps program administered by the Local Government Commission. "The initiative is a win-win designed to generate jobs for recent college graduates, and the recruits are trained to help local governments implement programs to save energy, with the overall goal of protecting the environment," said Ezra Rapport, ABAG's Executive Director.

"CivicSpark is creating a model of climate action in the State of California," said Wade Crawfoot, Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor to the Governor. In the upcoming service year, CivicSpark Members in the Bay Area will assist local jurisdictions in developing and implementing energy audits, climate action plans, and other local climate change initiatives, and provide technical assistance to advance bicycling in San Mateo County.

As the Bay Area Regional Partner, ABAG is helping CivicSpark provide critical regional context and resources and assisting in member and project recruitment efforts. Together ABAG and CivicSpark are working to support local government sustainability projects to help communities respond to climate change.

Bay Area cities, towns, and counties can learn more about enrolling in the CivicSpark's program at www.civicspark.lgc.org. In collaboration with local government staff, the CivicSpark team will implement a needed climate-change project, while building long-term capacity to ensure the work is sustained after the project is completed.

Now recruiting for the 2015-16 service year, the program provides recent college graduates with a unique opportunity to gain professional experience, build important skills, and create a meaningful and lasting impact by supporting local government climate initiatives. For more information, go to www.civicspark.lgc.org.

Background
In its first year, CivicSpark assisted 88 local government agencies in energy efficiency, solar procurement, urban forestry, sea level rise, climate action plan implementation, and related initiatives. To date, CivicSpark Members have provided over 40,000 hours of service to California's communities supporting a wide range of actions including eight climate or energy action plans; 17 climate action policies; 10 vulnerability assessments; eight greenhouse gas inventories; 12 community workshops, and energy benchmarking for four cities.

About Association of Bay Area Governments
Founded in 1961, ABAG is the official regional planning agency for 101 cities and towns, and nine counties of the Bay Area and is recognized as the first council of governments in California. ABAG was created by local governments to meet their planning and research needs related to land use, environmental and water resource protection, disaster resilience, energy efficiency and hazardous waste mitigation, and to provide risk management, financial services and staff training to local counties, cities and towns. www.abag.ca.gov

About Local Government Commission
The Local Government Commission (LGC) is a nonprofit organization fostering innovation in environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and social equity by supporting local government policies and projects. The LGC is CivicSpark's overall program manager, providing statewide program infrastructure and overall member and local government support, coordinating training, and ensuring that performance goals are met. www.lgc.org

Contact
Jennifer Berg
CivicSpark Bay Area Regional Partner
Association of Bay Area Governments
jennyb@abag.ca.gov
510-464-7947

Kristen Wraith
CivicSpark Project Manager
Local Government Commission
kwraith@lgc.org
916-448-1198 x309



Posted Monday, August 17, 2015

ABAG Can Assist Local Governments with Disaster Preparedness


The Association of Bay Area Governments, and its Resilience Program, are here to provide support to the cities, towns and counties of the San Francisco Bay Area with disaster preparedness. Fortunately, disaster recovery support was not needed this morning.

The 6:49 a.m. magnitude 4.0 earthquake, located near Piedmont, was a gentle reminder to the Bay Area that we do, indeed, live in earthquake country. The moderate to strong shaking felt by many in the East Bay and beyond was fortunately not strong enough to cause more than some localized annoyances, such as shifted art and fallen books. This is a wake up call to ensure that we are indeed prepared for larger earthquakes along the Hayward fault that we can expect in the future.

BART responded quickly and efficiently, and no damage has been reported so far. However this earthquake, coupled with the 4.0 earthquake near Fremont on July 21, remind us that the Hayward Fault is indeed an active fault. The USGS predicts that there is a 31% chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake on the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system over the next 30 years. The Hayward Fault runs right below a large percentage of the Bay Area's population, regional infrastructure, and publically and privately owned buildings.

But there is much ABAG can do to assist local governments to be prepared for this or another major earthquake. Below are the top four actions you can consider taking today to make the region more resilient tomorrow.


  • Visit ABAG Resilience Program's website
    http://resilience.abag.ca.gov/preparedness/natural-gas/ to see what ABAG has been working on and for hazards information.

  • Ensure that residents stay safe in their homes by retrofitting single-family homes, mobile homes, and multi-unit residential buildings. Check ABAG's website for examples and best practices.

  • Adopt a gas shut-off valve ordinance. Gas shut-off valves can prevent gas related fires after an earthquake.

  • Become eligible for pre-disaster mitigation grants and ensure full FEMA disaster reimbursement by updating your Local Hazard Mitigation Plan consistent with your Safety Element.


  • For more information on these actions, and other ways to build resilience in your jurisdiction, visit ABAG's Earthquake Portal, and sign up for the upcoming ABAG Mitigation Strategies workshop for your Local Hazard Mitigation Plan.

    If you have any questions or you would like more information, contact ABAG's Planning and Research Director, Miriam Chion, at miriamc@abag.ca.gov or (510) 464-7919, or Resilience Planner, Dana Brechwald, at danab@abag.ca.gov or (510) 464-7920.

    Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015

    BayREN-PACE Website Now Live!


    The Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has developed the Local Government PACE Portal, a "one-stop shop" for local governments interested in allowing property owners to take advantage of PACE financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements.

    Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), first piloted in the City of Berkeley in 2008 allow qualified property owners in a community to obtain affordable, long-term financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements, and repay it through their secured property tax bills. The PACE structure builds on decades of land-secured financing experience and provides security to project investors, enabling easy access to capital at competitive rates and longer payment periods than traditional loans.

    Administered by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), BayREN implements effective energy saving programs on a regional level and draws on the expertise, experience, and proven track record of Bay Area local governments to develop and administer successful climate, resource, and sustainability programs. Visit the new website at
    http://abag.ca.gov/bayren/pace/index.html

    The new website includes comprehensive information about PACE (including a list of PACE providers in the nine Bay Area counties), outlines the steps necessary for making PACE available to local governments, and provides document templates to help staff prepare packets for presentation to local elected leaders.

    Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    ABAG Forum Announces Preliminary Findings in New Report on "Bay Area Services to Unaccompanied Immigrant Children"


    On Friday, July 24, 2015, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) hosted a forum in Oakland to discuss and present the preliminary findings of its first comprehensive report on "Bay Area Services to Unaccompanied Immigrant Children."

    69 different organizations ranging from small non-profits to large international organizations attended to discuss and gain a better understanding of how the region might better serve these children. The report indicates that the Bay Area region is home to model programs that provide for unaccompanied children's physical and mental needs, but greater coordination for the provision of protective services is still needed using our region's limited resources.

    To view the preliminary data presented at the forum,
    click here.

    Posted Thursday, July 2, 2015

    State Approves $47 Million in Affordable Housing Grants for 11 Bay Area Projects
    777 New Units of Low-Income Housing to Be Built


    Local transportation and planning officials are applauding yesterday's action by California's Strategic Growth Council to award over $47 million in state Cap-and-Trade funds to 11 affordable, transit-oriented housing and mixed-use projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area grants are part of a package of 28 Cap-and-Trade competitive grants with a total value of $122 million awarded by the Strategic Growth Council to 28 housing and transportation projects across California.

    The grants are the first to flow from the state's new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by supporting compact infill development, encouraging transit usage and protecting agricultural land from sprawl, with a special emphasis on helping disadvantaged communities.

    Two Bay Area regional agencies, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), played a key role in vetting and supporting the Bay Area projects submitted to the Strategic Growth Council, which awarded the funds at a meeting in Sacramento. The 11 winning Bay Area projects were drawn from a list of 13 projects that had been endorsed by MTC and ABAG following a joint review by the two regional agencies.

    ABAG President Julie Pierce, who also sits on MTC and is a councilmember in the city of Clayton, pointed out that Bay Area projects were awarded nearly 40 percent of this first round of funding from the statewide Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program. "I think it speaks highly of the professionalism and competitiveness of our local jurisdictions and the nonprofit corporations they rely on to build much of our region's affordable housing,"she said.

    The 11 Bay Area grants range from $1 million to $10 million, and together will help build 777 units of affordable housing - a lucky number that caught the attention of MTC Chair Dave Cortese, who is president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. "This is a lucky day indeed for low-income Bay Area residents, including seniors, the homeless and families struggling to stay afloat in the region's super-charged housing market," he said.

    According to ABAG Deputy Executive Director Brad Paul, in many cases these new grants will provide a crucial last piece of funding and will accelerate the construction schedule for affordable housing projects already in the pipeline. He also noted that the projects are more than isolated pockets of high-density housing - collectively they will provide more than 34,000 square feet of retail space that will provide needed services for residents while helping to revitalize neighborhoods.

    In addition, all of the projects are located on an existing or planned major rail or bus route, and incorporate streetscape, sidewalk and/or transit improvements that are designed to create greater pedestrian and bike access to transit, Paul said. Such sustainability features were a requirement for the grants.

    The Bay Area's 11 shovel-ready affordable housing proposals receiving the Strategic Growth Council grants span nine cities (all are rental units except for the Fremont project):

    San Francisco - Two projects were awarded grants for affordable family housing:
  • Eddy & Taylor Family Housing (Tenderloin) - $10 million award, 103 units
  • Mission Bay South Block 6 East (Mission Bay) - $5 million award, 143 units

  • Oakland & East Bay Corridor - The six winning projects in this area were submitted by members of the East Bay Corridor Initiative, a coalition of 13 jurisdictions and ABAG working to foster compact development around BART stations and major bus corridors in the inner East Bay:

  • Miraflores Senior Housing (Richmond) - $5.1 million award, 80 units

  • El Cerrito Senior Mixed Use Apartments (El Cerrito) - $5.7 million award, 63 units

  • 3706 San Pablo Avenue (Emeryville) - $5.5 million award, 86 units

  • Civic Center 14 Transit-Oriented Development Apartments (Oakland) - $1.5 million, 40 units

  • Camino 23 (Oakland) - $3 million award, 32 units

  • Hayward Senior Apartments (Hayward) - $2.2 million award, 60 units

  • Fremont:
  • Central Commons Housing - $1 million award, 30 units of owner housing

  • San Jose:
  • 777 Park Avenue, a project sponsored by Housing Authority for the County of Santa Clara - $4 million award, 82 units


  • Walnut Creek:
  • Riviera Family Apartments - $4.3 million award, 58 units

  • In another plus for sustainable communities, 10 of the 11 projects funded in the Bay Area lie within one of the region's locally nominated Priority Development Areas (PDAs) - those areas where local officials wish to see additional future growth take place adjacent to public transit. The PDAs are a key feature of Plan Bay Area, a long-range plan that was adopted by MTC and ABAG in 2013.

    Two of the winning Bay Area projects - The Eddy and Taylor Family Housing in San Francisco and Hayward Senior Apartments - have also received a loan commitment from the Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) revolving loan fund administered by MTC. The TOAH fund provides critical financing for the development of affordable housing and other vital community services near transit lines throughout the Bay Area. Even with the previous TOAH commitments, however, these two projects had funding shortfalls that prevented the start of construction. The first round of Cap-and-Trade funding will close that gap and allow these two projects to begin construction.

    The Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program stems from California's Budget Act of 2014, which was signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and appropriated $832 million in Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen communities and improve quality-of-life. By statute, 20 percent of the Cap-and Trade funding will flow to the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which could go from $122 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year to $400 million or more in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

    MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. ABAG is the land-use planning agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area and also provides a variety of services to its member cities.
    The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) is a state body that brings together agencies and departments within Business, Consumer Services and Housing, Transportation, Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, Food and Agriculture, and Environmental Protection, with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research to coordinate activities that support sustainable communities, strong economies, social equity and environmental stewardship.

    For more details on each project (city, developer, grant amount), see:http://www.sgc.ca.gov/docs/Attachment_B_Summary_of_AHSC_Recommendations.pdf
    http://www.sgc.ca.gov/docs/Attachment_A_AHSC_Recommendations_List.pdf

    See the Strategic Growth Council's release:
    http://www.sgc.ca.gov//docs/Press_Release_2_AHSC_Program_06302015.pdf

    Contact:
    Brad Paul, ABAG 510.464.7955
    Brenda Kahn, MTC 510.817.5773

    Posted Friday, June 12, 2015

    Link to Plan Bay Public Comments


    The public comments made as part of the recent Plan Bay Area workshops are available at http://planbayarea.org/your-part/your-comments.html. Additional comments can be added to the on-going dialog at http://planbayarea.org/misc/open-forum.html.

    Posted Thursday, May 21, 2015

    State Senate Committee Issues Report on ABAG FAN


    The California State Senate Committee on Governance and Finance this week issued a report entitled Misappropriated Bond Proceeds at the Association of Bay Area Governments with reference to the embezzlement of proceeds from a municipal bond issued by the ABAG Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations (FAN). It provides a clear summary of how the embezzlement took place and illuminates the complex public policy challenges that this embezzlement presents to policymakers.

    Earlier this year, Governance and Finance Committee Chair, Senator Robert Hertzberg, announced plans to undertake this oversight report and the State Treasurer announced creation of a Special Task Force on Bond Accountability to identify best practices for managing bond proceeds and increasing transparency and oversight. This Senate oversight report lays a foundation for the Special Task Forces work.

    The report can be found on the State Senate website.
    http://sgf.senate.ca.gov/sites/sgf.senate.ca.gov/files/1584-s_governance_and_finance.pdf

    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2015

    Best Practices Recognized at ABAG Spring 2015 General Assembly


    The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) presented the Ninth Annual Regional Growing Smarter Together Awards during its Spring 2015 General Assembly on Thursday, April 23, 2015 in Oakland. The awards honor counties, cities and towns and their innovative efforts in revitalization, planning, innovation and technology to create sustainable communities and to promote conservation and green community efforts. Julie Pierce, ABAG President and Clayton Councilmember proudly recognized the award honorees for their achievements to address a sustainable Bay Area through innovative leadership and collaboration which strengthened and provided support of existing communities by creating better connections through jobs, housing and transportation, Bay Area environmental protection, support of social equity and creating a stronger economy.

    Award recipients were recognized and honored in the following categories:

  • On the Ground Award: City of Fremont, Warm Springs Community Plan

  • Public Private Partnership Award: City of Union City & MidPEN Housing Corporation, Union City Station Mixed Center Mixed-Use Housing

  • Preserving and Protecting the Environment Award: Stop Waste: Energy Council Bay Area Multifamily Enhancements Program

  • Start It Up Award: City of Concord Downtown Concord Specific Plan

  • Public Private Partnership Award: City of San Leandro & BRIDGE Housing Corporation Marea Alta Affordable Rental Development

  • Sharing the Benefits Award: City of Alameda Jack Capon Villa


  • To see the video of each award, visit http://www.abag.ca.gov/smarter/2015/smarter15.html

    More than 125 attendees including Bay Area elected officials and civic leaders attended the Spring General Assembly to discuss Green Streets and Infrastructure Strategies: Sharing Best Practices Around Creating Complete Communities, Drought Protection, and Water Management.

    Posted Friday, April 3, 2015

    The Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayRen) releases Final Report and Energy Code Resource Guide for the 2014 Permit Resource Opportunity Program (PROP)

    For local leaders and regulators, this report was designed to identify and share best practices and improve building code enforcement and building performance rates on a regional level. The report represents the collaborative efforts of the nine San Francisco Bay Area Counties and 15 Bay Area building departments to learn about energy code enforcement barriers and challenges, identify successful enforcement strategies, and gather data about the impact of discrepancies on building performance. The BayREN Codes and Standards program was designed to identify and share best practices and improve building code enforcement and building performance rates within the region. In 2013-2014, BayREN launched its Codes & Standards Permit Resource Opportunity Program (PROP), funded by public goods charges collected from energy utility customers. After conducting a survey of stakeholders, BayREN's energy code experts conducted a series of visits to fifteen Bay Area building departments to learn about energy code enforcement barriers and challenges, identify successful enforcement strategies, and gather data about the impact of discrepancies on building performance. This report examines the results of that effort.


    The PROP Final Report is available at www.bayren.org


    Key findings of BayREN's 2014 PROP research include:
    • Chief building officials (CBOs), who can use these findings, recommendations, guides, and resources to inform energy code enforcement at their local building departments.

    • Local government policy leaders and state regulatory agency staff who influence energy code programs, policies, and resources across California.


    Other report highlights include:
    • 50% of reviewed projects performed worse than energy documentation predicted, even though many of these projects were compliant with code minimums.

    • 84% of reviewed projects contained documentation errors or discrepancies at one or more stages of review.

    • Recommendations for developing new ways energy information on plans and energy documentation can be referenced in the field.

    • Resources and tools available to local governments seeking to improve energy code enforcement.



    In addition to PROP findings and recommendations, this report describes resources available to
    local governments seeking to improve energy code enforcement, including BayREN-developed
    guides and tools. Finally, this report provides considerations for future programs that could be
    developed regionally or statewide to target energy code compliance.


    In 2015, BayREN will revisit building departments that participated in the 2014 PROP program.
    Each jurisdiction will receive training tailored around their specific needs. The goal of these
    visits is to encourage jurisdictions to reach beyond minimum code compliance and adopt a
    strategy that promotes better-than-code building practices.


    The BayREN team is happy to answer any questions you may have after reviewing this report and can be reached at codes@bayren.org. Additionally, interested parties are invited to the April BayREN Forum, where highlights from this Final Report will be presented and discussed. For more information and to register for the April Forum, visit www.bayren.org/codes/april-forum2015


    BayREN is a collaborative of the nine bay area counties working together to increase energy savings throughout the region with Codes and Standards, Residential, Multifamily and other similar programs. The BayREN Codes & Standards Program focuses on improving enforcement of Title 24, Part 6 of the California Code of Regulations, California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Standards). BayREN Codes & Standards is funded by California utility customers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

    Posted Monday, March 2, 2015

    Homeowners Access BayREN for Energy Efficiency Homes
    2015 Promises More for Bay Area Homeowners


    Enrollment in the Bay Area Regional Energy Network's (BayREN) multifamily and single family programs has achieved significant ground in capitalizing on energy savings potential. BayREN provides cash rebates to both multifamily and single family homeowners who undertake energy efficient property improvements. While both programs have received great interest and participation, BayREN's multifamily program stands out as it has outperformed other multifamily energy upgrade programs in California by a factor of three to four.

    As of December 2014, rebates totaling over $6.2 million were paid to multifamily property owners in the Bay Area, and $2.2 million was paid to or reserved for single family homeowners. These programs create meaningful impact across the region with job creation, economic stimulus, cost savings, and the advancement of environmental policy. Participating multifamily properties reduced their total energy use on average by 16 percent.

    "The BAYREN programs are protecting California's energy and air resources, reducing property owners' energy bills, helping Bay Area governments meet their Greenhouse Gas reduction targets, and contributing to the growth of the green building industry which in turn creates jobs," said San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine. Local businesses benefit from access to green job training and job creation, which stimulates the regional economy.

    Administered by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), BayREN implements effective energy saving programs on a regional level and draws on the expertise, experience, and proven track record of Bay Area local governments to develop and administer successful climate, resource, and sustainability programs. The BayREN program is one example of ABAG's leadership in delivering innovative programs for regional environmental sustainability. BayREN is a collaborative program with all nine Bay Area counties participating. Each county has a representative to respond to homeowners and help them access funds and program upgrades.

    BayREN offers a Home Upgrade Advisor Service, which provides free one-on-one assistance to homeowners and contractors. Home Upgrade Advisors are Building Performance Institute certified energy efficiency professionals who can inform homeowners about their energy efficiency options, help select an appropriate participating contractor for the single family program, and navigate project installation and financing processes.

    For more information, homeowners can contact a Home Upgrade Advisor by calling 866-878-6008 or by submitting a brief form to https://www.bayren.org/.

    Founded in 1961, ABAG is the official regional planning agency for 100 cities and towns, and nine counties of the Bay Area and is recognized as the first council of governments in California.

    Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2015

    Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations (FAN) Votes to Restore Embezzled San Francisco Funds


    The Executive Committee of the Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations (FAN) today voted unanimously to use approximately $1.3 million from FAN reserve funds to make San Francisco whole, in the wake of an apparent embezzlement of that amount by a senior manager at FAN. The money will be returned to the account from which it was stolen, restoring control of these funds to San Francisco and the South of Market Community Stabilization Committee. It is expected that legal documents effectuating the transfer of funds will be finalized by early next week. Click here for full press release

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