2018 San Diego Housing Federation Ruby Awards Winners

2018 San Diego Housing Federation Ruby Awards Winners

Algire Talmadge

The San Diego Housing Federation held its 2018 Ruby Awards in Balboa Park Thursday, recognizing leadership, innovation, and impact in the affordable housing and
community development industries.  I was happy to see the Talmadge Gateway project among the winners, which overcame the usual Kensington/Talmadge NIMBY objections over parking, traffic and in this case, outright exclusionism.   Here’s a rundown of all the winners (thanks to SDHF and Cook & Schmid for photos and information):

Outstanding Resident Leader Award – Miguel Figueroa

Miguel Figueroa is a resident of Paradise Creek Apartments at 2120 Hoover Avenue in National City, where he began volunteering in the Paradise Creek Learning Center’s afterschool program in his teens. He has worked his way up as Volunteer Leader at the Learning Center, becoming the first teen to ascend to this position. He participates every single day to work with Kindergarteners to 5th-grade students to support them on homework and in enhancing their literacy skills. He has been a huge positive role model at the Learning Center, encouraging other young males to also become involved, and also ensuring his younger sister attends regularly as well. He is a bright, inspirational leader that is truly deserving of the Outstanding Resident Leader award.

Outstanding Service to Residents – Dennis Dearie

Dennis Dearie is the Director of Supportive Services for Serving Seniors, a nonprofit that provides services to older adults living in poverty. Dennis has played a large role in the success of Serving Seniors’ two supportive housing buildings, Potiker Family Senior Residence at 525 14th Street and Potiker City Heights Residence at 4065 43rd Street. The two buildings encompass 350 units of affordable housing for senior citizens. As Director of Supportive Services, Dennis earned the Outstanding Service to Residents award for his unwavering support, compassion and encouragement to senior residents in need. In his position, he works closely with communities that are at the cross-section of the most vulnerable seniors. He has a deep interest in the well-being of his residents and incorporates social events including education and health workshops as well as the necessary resources for successful, independent living.

Outstanding Advocate – Jackie Camp

Jackie Camp was selected for her 20-year commitment to affordable housing and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Serving as the longest member of the City of Oceanside Housing Commission, her expertise towards affordable housing and the ADA has been critical given the number of seniors and individuals with disabilities who often depend on affordable housing due to their incomes. Jackie regularly requires updated presentations and timelines from city staff and developers to ensure that affordable housing is met with the highest build quality, design and is ADA-compliant.  She asks tough questions and is not afraid to express her opinions of projects that do not meet a high standard.

Outstanding Development Partner – LISC San Diego

LISC San Diego works tirelessly to support the affordable housing development community, providing catalytic funding for the creation of affordable housing.  The agency’s strategic move to raise a $50-million Housing Affordability Fund that could accelerate the creation of 2,500 affordable housing units in San Diego is a true testament to their dedication and commitment to affordable housing for the City.  Executive Director Ricardo Flores explains, “We’re aiming to take a leadership role in jump-starting these projects, which are sorely needed as government and private interests work together to ease our region’s growing housing crisis. We’re committed to our role as a prime facilitator in the months and years ahead.”  LISC San Diego knows how to make things happen and their unflinching championship of the affordable housing sector distinguishes them as the recipient of the Outstanding Development Partner of the Year.

Outstanding Government Agency or Elected Official – Senator Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Brian Maienschein

Senator Toni Atkins is a long-time advocate in the fight to improve California’s affordable housing dilemma.  Her introduction of Senate Bill 2 (the building Homes and Jobs Act) during the 2017 legislative session has created a permanent funding source to benefit affordable housing and decreased regulations for affordable housing developers.  The Act is estimated to generate $250 million annually ($1.2 billion during the next five years), create 20,000 new houses and produce 57,000 jobs over five years. Champions like Senator Atkins’ efforts are pivotal in addressing the housing crisis; they will improve the quality of life for California’s future.

Assemblymember Brian Maienschein is a former San Diego City Councilmember, United Way Commissioner on the Homelessness, and currently representing the 77th State Assembly district. He was supportive of Senate Bill 2, and was one of the deciding votes for its passage.

John Craven Memorial Award – Rachel Hurst

Kensington resident Rachel Hurst is awarded the John Craven Memorial Award for her commitment as a public employee who has taken risks and has gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist affordable housing developers. In her role as City of Coronado’s Director of Redevelopment and Housing Services, she led her team to rehabilitate and develop the City’s and Coronado Unified School District’s facilities and improvements such as the Village Theatre. The Theater was closed for many years, and Rachel worked with an absentee landlord and movie theater operator to completely renovate and reopen the theater. Rachel served Coronado for more than 11 years, training and managing a team to support the community’s planning and building needs. There, she oversaw the development of the Coronado Senior Housing on Orange Avenue, and helped to acquire and rehabilitate other properties.  She has also served as the Housing and Redevelopment Director for the City of La Mesa, where she helped to develop one of the first large-scale transit-oriented developments in San Diego, and was previously a planner for the cities of Simi Valley, San Diego, and Beverly Hills.

SDG&E Environmental Award and Innovations Award – North Park Seniors

Innovative and imaginative, North Park Seniors is a groundbreaking project, consisting of 194 units (including 76 affordable apartments). It was designed and entitled as a sustainable, transit-oriented, mixed-income development. The developer Community HousingWorks partnered with the LGBT Center of San Diego to provide homes that are open to all, with an affirming and supportive environment for LGBT seniors. It is one of only a handful of such developments in the nation. It also shelters formerly homeless seniors in eight permanent supportive housing units. The artist and architect, both North Park local businesses, collaborated on creating the “You Are Home” installation, which embraces the pedestrian landscape with color, movement, and a sundial and tower with motifs of the timeless cycle of sun and stars.

CSH Supportive Housing Award – Talmadge Gateway

Talmadge Gateway is a project that has transformed San Diego’s approach to addressing homelessness for older adults, paving the way for a replicable model that can make a significant difference in elder homelessness across the country. Talmadge Gateway embodies all of the elements of quality supportive housing. St. Paul’s PACE and Wakeland have provided a much needed solution for the 59 residents who moved in, as well as a national best practice that is challenging other communities in San Diego and across the country to identify how they can also effectively weave together PACE services, affordable housing, operating subsidies, and have referrals flow to the property through the Coordinated Entry System (a program which streamlines the process of finding housing for those who are chronically homeless — with the goal of housing the most vulnerable people first).

Project of the Year – Rehab – Woodglen

Woodglen Vista Apartments provides high-quality affordable housing to 185 families who earn at or below 50% and 60% of the area median income (AMI) in a community with excellent job and educational opportunities.  Last year’s property rehabilitation went above and beyond the typical property refresh. The 2017 rehab of this 40-year old property was focused on both improvements in the individual units and an overhaul of the major components of the property infrastructure.  This involved a retrofit of the landscape irrigation system and the introduction of a solar hot water heating system. Common areas were redesigned in order to step up resident services. Woodglen Vista became part of the SanteeTLC (Teaching- Learning-Connecting), a collective impact network focused on utilizing trauma-informed practices to engage students, families, school staff, and the community. Santee TLC is comprised of a group of 25 cross-sector partners, anchored by the Santee School District.

Project of the Year – New Construction – Atmosphere

Atmosphere is a new, 12-story high-rise community of 205 affordable homes in downtown San Diego that uniquely serves the broad spectrum of people who need affordable housing, including working families, seniors and people who have been homeless. The $79 million project does this by integrating traditional affordable housing with 51 units of permanent supportive housing designed to help the formerly homeless live stable, independent lives.

Designed by an internationally-recognized architecture firm and slated to achieve LEED Silver Certification for sustainability, the development brings numerous benefits to the neighborhood, including:

  • The revitalization of an underutilized inner city site that has remained vacant since 2004 with a vibrant, attractive and affordable community that has the potential to help up to 10,000 people over its 55-year life span;
  • A significant increase in the amount of high-quality affordable homes available to San Diegans that are located close to jobs, transportation and other resources residents need for daily living;
  • And the addition of 51 much-needed supportive homes with wraparound services that promote individual well-being and independence for people who have been homeless.

 

Housing Champion Award – Ken Sauder

The Housing Champion Award honors professionals with more than two decades of leadership, innovation and impact in the affordable housing field. Ken Sauder was selected for his 35-year commitment to affordable housing that continues to advance the principles of the San Diego Housing Federation. As President and CEO of Wakeland Housing, he led the development of more than 6,700 units in 44 developments throughout California, including more than 100 units of permanent supportive housing designed to help stabilize formerly homeless individuals. Throughout his career, Sauder has exemplified strong leadership and an unwavering dedication to serving lower income families and those in need. His strong impact in the industry not only affects the San Diego community but extends beyond the County. He was the former executive director of Tijuana-San Diego Habitat For Humanity, where he headed a team of six staff and countless volunteers that built 100 houses in Tijuana. Sauder’s achievements point the way toward a broader view of the region.

Bikeshare Blowout

Bikeshare Blowout

The meltdown over dockless bikeshare in San Diego is in full swing, but it’s somewhat expected in a city where cars come first – often at the expense of other travel modes. A common argument against dockless bikes has been that the bikes are in the way, which they sometimes are, since many of our sidewalks aren’t wide enough to accommodate a parked bike and pedestrians. But it’s remarkable that pedestrians and bike share users are fighting over the last sliver of public space. Nearly all of our public street space has been taken by motorists to drive or park their personal vehicles (often for free):

The more I hear the “bikes are in the way” argument, I think it’s really just a smokescreen for “we don’t want bikes, period” – a perspective many San Diegans hold unfortunately. For example, here’s someone outraged over the mere presence of dockless bikes, and actually counted how many they saw. The fact that there were far more (and larger) private vehicles being stored on our public streets went unnoticed:

I know Nextdoor is often a forum for some of our most self-interested neighbors, but the above sentiments are probably shared by many among our city’s in-power group (motorists) who view the presence of public bikes as a threat to their perceived ownership or dominance of our public space. Disclaimer: I drive too. But articles with headlines like “Will bike and scooter shares overpopulate La Jolla?”, as thousands of cars choke La Jolla’s streets makes you wonder – how did people’s perspectives get so warped?

Well, as this Dallas Magazine article points out, “Many of the problems of bike share are really problems with a city whose streets are built for cars, not people. The safety and ‘nuisance’ hazards associated with cars—pollution, fatal accidents, neighborhood-destroying highways and parking lots—are worse than anything an electric scooter or share bike are capable of.” Or as CityLab notes, “Much of the LA region’s built environment is designed to accommodate the presence of private vehicles and to punish their absence”.

These dockless bikes and scooter programs reveal not only the control many motorists feel they have over our public streets, but also their dim view of those who aren’t driving. Many motorists assign and perceive status based on how expensive a person’s car is. If you’re not even driving, imagine just how low on the totem pole you are to these folks.

As auto transportation does massive harm to our environment, climate, health and communities (we literally tear down lower-income urban neighborhoods by ramming freeways through them), motorists are instead freaking out over the potential of kids tripping over a bike. This same Mission Hills resident and North Park business owner penned a laughable Union Tribune commentary fretting over potential injuries from scooters, while somehow omitting the fact that 20-50 million people are injured or killed each year globally by drivers. There are plenty more of these: “Is Southern California’s ‘dockless’ electric scooter fad a public safety hazard?”; “Dockless bikes – are they safe or will someone get hurt?”;
“Dockless bikes and hepatitis” (You’ve done it again, Reader!)

Fortunately there have been several positive pieces on the bikeshare boom, such as this one in Uptown News that explained how critical bikes are to the first and last-mile needs of public transit users (something many motorists are simply unable to comprehend). The Union Tribune also included favorable commentaries from Circulate San Diego and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Bikeshare may even expand to North County.

But for every positive bikeshare article or commentary, there are some real head-scratchers, like the “environmental”, “progressive” residents of Ocean Beach railing against a public program that is good for the environment and transportation equity. In La Jolla, a resident advisory board disregarded the “advisory” part and stated that only they could give “permission” for what types of bikes could be allowed in their community. This group had earlier opposed docked bike share also. And the Little Italy Association wants a city-wide ban on dockless bikes until they and parking districts can “find” docking areas for them. That’s called docked bike share – which these groups also opposed due to parking impacts.

You don’t need to make it any clearer folks. What you’re really saying is, “no bikes, period”.

The notion that public bikes left in public spaces is litter is another common argument against dockless. Many have cited a Chinese dockless bike junkyard should mean no public dockless bikeshare, anywhere, while somehow overlooking a much, much larger Chinese auto junkyard:

Leaving a bike on the sidewalk is no more ‘litter’ than how our public streets are littered with parked cars – often illegally. In this case, a rideshare driver is both blocking a bus stop and decreasing visibility at an intersection:

This brings up another dockless criticism: that private bikeshare companies shouldn’t be allowed to use public infrastructure. Isn’t that exactly what Uber and Lyft are doing?

Instead of freaking out about other modes of transport becoming more readily available, maybe we should reclaim some public space from our motorist overlords by heeding this advice:

If scooters proliferate, planners have all the more reason to reclaim pavement from cars, creating more sidewalks, bike lanes, or, indeed scooter lanes. Scooters might warrant further transit investments as they widen the traditional walk-sheds of transit stops. They might influence parking requirements and warrant the conversion of on-street parking spaces into scooter corrals. Or maybe they’re benign enough, and our existing streetscapes accommodating enough, that we can indeed let them evolve organically and not freak out about them.

The sheer number of new bicycle and scooter share rides happening as a result of these programs is an incredible game-changer for San Diego. But the response from city staff and leadership has been to delay the Downtown Mobility Plan by at least 5 years (after using it as an excuse not to work on any other bike lane projects in the city), while demonstrating a clear lack of support for bike infrastructure. This, as it trumpets a Climate Action Plan projecting an 18-fold increase in bike commuters for much of the city. You can’t realize your goals when you’re actively working against them.