ULI San Francisco Blog

Building Healthy Places Through Innovation Exchange: Part 1 – San Francisco Bay Area

BHP Exchange - Dogpatch

In the last few years the link between health and the built environment has been firmly established. Now the Urban Land Institute and others are zeroing in on building healthy places. With this in mind, ULI foundation awarded the ULI District Councils of San Francisco and Seattle with a grant to create a two-part Building Healthy Places Exchange. This exchange would bring ULI members from each district council together, once in San Francisco and again in Seattle, to share ideas and best practices for building healthy places, provide a context for how these principles align with the state policy, and examine how local innovation is setting the stage in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

The first half of the Building Healthy Places Exchange, from May 7 -9, was hosted by the ULI San Francisco District Council.

Eastern Neighborhoods Program
San Francisco has focused on how to adapt industrial districts in its Eastern Neighborhoods to a mixed-use strategy that retains a base for a new class of industrial enterprises while directing locations for transit-oriented residential growth. The Eastern Neighborhoods program focused on what’s taking place in Dogpatch, one of the City’s original live-work neighborhoods. Speakers addressing the transformation of the Dogpatch were following: Kim Diamond with the development firm, Trumark Urban; Leslie Grossblatt with the Dogpatch Playground Working Group Team; Diane Oshima with the Port of San Francisco; Diane Sokolove, Food Systems Policy Manager with the San Francisco Planning Department; Steve Wertheim, a long range planner with the San Francisco Planning Department; and Michael Yarne with the local development firm, Build Inc.

Healthy Initiatives Program
Health doesn’t only happen in a doctor’s office or by eating well. Health happens where we live, learn, and play – in our communities. The changing needs of Oakland’s diverse population have created a variety of initiatives and have required the collaboration of local government, health care providers, community-based organizations, and others to improve the health of Oakland residents. A panel of Robert Ogilvie of Change Lab Solutions; Aliza Gallo with the City of Oakland; John Kouletsis of Kaiser Permanente; and Joshua Simon with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation discussed how Kaiser Permanante, the state’s biggest health care provider, uses its investments to create comprehensive health initiatives, how area nonprofits are creating community hubs to foster healthy neighborhoods, and how the City of Oakland is working to create a healthy, safe and active city.

Fruitvale Village Program
Located in east Oakland, Fruitvale Village serves as a national model of equitable transit oriented development. Proximity to a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station and International Boulevard (one of the busiest transit corridors in the county) proved to be the catalyst in 1991 for a remarkable neighborhood transformation.

Through the initiation of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the leadership of The Unity Council, a business improvement plan was implemented that addressed safety and cleanliness, economic development, and community organizing. This includes installing public art and streetscape improvements, offering business assistance for local merchants, and coordinating daily sidewalk cleaning, and tree and flower planting.

Just beyond the Fruitvale neighborhood, ZETA Homes launched the first net zero energy, urban infill, multifamily project in the US. Located in the colorful mixed industrial/artist/residential urban neighborhood near the Oakland Estuary, BART and other community services, the Fruitvale Village program provided a private tour of this residential property and food garden. The following speakers were on hand to address the group: Anita Addison and Amy Debower with La Clinica de La Raza; “Daryl” Peng Cheang, a local homeowner; Chris Iglesias, Victoria Hererra, and Maria Sanchez with The Unity Council; Marsha Murrington for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Naomi Porat with Transform Urban; and Dan Smith with Dan Smith Architects.

Safe Streets and Active Transportation Program
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most transit rich regions in the country. Its density enables travelers to choose from many modes of transportation, many of which do not depend on the use of a private automobile. What interventions have been put in place to increase the number of pedestrian and bicycle trips? Can these active transportation methods enable workers to access job centers throughout the region? As active modes of transit increase, how are policy makers and designers ensuring the safety of these travelers? A panel of Elizabeth Shreeve from SWA Group; Jessica Alba with the transit consulting firm Nelson Nygaard; Nicole Schneider with the pedestrian advocacy group, Walk San Francisco; and Andy Thornley of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority discussed the benefits of promoting active modes of transit as well as the challenges of implementing change both locally and regionally.

Silicon Valley Program
Have the principles of Building Healthy Places reached Silicon Valley? Absolutely! Technology companies have a new paradigm for the workplace that’s being implemented in the office parks of Silicon Valley and in selected urban business centers including San Francisco. Their ideas are reflected in changes in building design, food service, recreational facilities, and transportation. The Friday program began in San Francisco with a discussion of what’s happening in the South Bay, including the City of San Jose’s plans to direct future growth into 70 “urban villages;” how planners, designers, and developers are reimagining the modern workspace by building healthier environments for employees to live, work and play; and developer TMG Partners’ transformation of a former Cisco campus into a healthy workplace. Speakers included Ben Grant, Urban Designer Manager with SPUR; Noah Christman, Public Programs Manager with SPUR, David Cropper and Drew Thomas with the development firm TMG Partners; Todd Kohli with the firm Populous; and Elizabeth Shreeve with SWA Group.

The last stop for the exchange was the Google headquarters in Mountain View. ULI members meet with Anthony Ravitz, the leader of Google’s “E-Team” (Environments, Experience and Ecology), which partners with the real estate group to create the company’s innovate and integrated work environments. Representatives of the company’s Health and Performance team and Transportation team also discussed how their respective endeavors shape the tech campus’s work culture and have cut the percentage of their workforce that commute by car to 45%.

The San Francisco and Seattle District Councils will reconvene for the second half the Building Healthy Places Exchange in Seattle from June 4 -6.

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