Planning Innovations

Planning Innovations is a series of regional forums that focus on the planning and implementation of Bay Area’s Priority Development Areas (PDAs) and Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs).

Karl Nielsen

Planning Innovations events focus on engaging topics relevant to local jurisdictions and other stakeholders with an interest in advancing transit-accessible development to accommodate future growth in the region.

Events are held three to four times per year in locations throughout the region. Most offer up to 2.0 CM credits.

To sign up for the Planning Innovations email distribution list, please email Mark Shorett at

Planning Innovations Events

VMT Policies & Housing Element Site Feasibility

December 10, 2020

As part of SB 743, local jurisdictions were tasked with transitioning from Level of Service to Vehicle Miles Traveled policies by July 2020. These vehicle reduction policies impact housing site feasibility. Participants will hear from peers and experts on how to strategically leverage state requirements for housing and VMT transportation analysis under CEQA (SB 743) to help meet their city’s RHNA allocation, Housing Element updates, and other climate and community goals. Participants will learn:

Regional Data Tools for the Housing Element

October 29, 2020

This Planning Innovations webinar previews the first set of regional data tools developed as part of ABAG’s Housing Technical Assistance Program. The Housing Technical Assistance Program is designed to support local jurisdictions in adopting compliant housing elements for the 6th cycle of RHNA. This webinar features a presentation by HCD staff on new rules affecting the Housing Needs and Site Inventory sections of the Housing Element, as well as a preview of the Housing Needs Data Packets and the beta version of the new Housing Element Site Selection (HESS) Tool.

Transit-Oriented Development Density

October 24, 2019

The Planning Innovations Fall 2019 Webinar, Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Density, explores a topic foundational to the Priority Development Area (PDA) Program. The PDA Program, predicated on infill development near quality transit, is central to achieving increasingly aggressive regional and state Greenhouse Gas reduction goals. In order to grow in ways that support quality transit while benefiting communities, identifying the right set of densities is critical. This forum will explore best practices and evidence from recent research on transit-supportive housing and job densities.

Helping Cities & Counties Adopt SB1000: Planning for Environmental Justice & Healthy Communities

May 2, 2019

In 2016, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1000 requiring cities and counties that have disadvantaged communities to incorporate environmental justice (EJ) policies into their General Plans, either in a separate EJ element or by integrating related goals, policies, and objectives throughout the other elements. This update must happen upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently on or after January 1, 2018.

Complete Streets to Green Streets: Planning for Urban Greening & Stormwater Management

October 24, 2018

Urban greening has the potential to address many challenges in the built environment, from stormwater runoff and flood prevention to reducing greenhouse gases and increasing mental health benefits. As an agent of urban greening, green streets planning incorporates complete streets features with green infrastructure for stormwater management. As local staff prepare specific plans in and around Priority Development Areas, we hope to elevate sustainable redevelopment practices.

The fall Planning Innovations forum, Complete Streets to Green Streets, provided an in-depth overview of the policy and planning alignment, funding resources, and online tools to support green infrastructure implementation. This forum built on resources from the EPA Urban Greening Bay Area Initiative, such as the April 2018 release of the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association’s (BASMAAs) Roadmap of Funding Solutions for Sustainable Streets, and shared best practices for aligning specific plans with urban greening master plans.

Subjective No More: Lessons from HAA & SB 35 Early Adopters

September 7, 2018

The Housing Accountability Act and SB 35 have added significant new requirements to already busy planning departments, but have not yet provided guidance on how to comply. This webinar is intended to help jurisdictions respond to the new rules. It deals with practical questions like:

  • What does a work plan for updating local rules and regulations look like?
  • What are the key steps?
  • How much time does it take to adjust standards and procedures?
  • Should the work be done in house or contracted out?

Tune in to learn from early adopters and spotlight cities that are further along in integrating the HAA / SB 35 into their planning process. For example, Benicia has developed objective design standards consistent with the new laws. Goldfarb & Lipman, LLP has produced a checklist for developers that want to claim eligibility for streamlined review. Oakland has reviewed their entire code to identify what is objective and what is not. These cities shared lessons and insights from their work so far.

This webinar focuses on implementation steps jurisdictions are taking to integrate the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) and SB 35 into their planning process, and primarily on how jurisdictions are identifying Objective Standards to inform their project review process; it will not cover the technical details of the laws in great depth. To learn more about the basics of the legislation passed in 2017, visit the HCD website. You may also be interested in viewing the first ABAG/MTC Planning Innovations forum on the new housing laws, How Objective is Objective, presented earlier this year.

Hosted by 21 Elements and ABAG/MTC Planning Innovations Series.

SB 743 Implementation Strategies: Moving from LOS to VMT - Part II: Show Me the (Fee) Money!

June 5, 2018

Planning Innovations is a series of regional forums that focus on the planning and implementation of Bay Area’s Priority Development Areas (PDA) and Priority Conservation Areas (PCA). This event is co-sponsored by the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals, working to grow the pedestrian and bicycle profession and its influence by facilitating the exchange of professional and technical knowledge, elevating practitioners’ skills and defining the field. This event is eligible for 2.0 CM Credits.

How Objective is “Objective?” Effective Development Standards in the SB35 & Housing Accountability Act Era

February 13, 2018

Recent state housing legislation, combined with lawsuits focusing on local development review, increase the importance of translating city goals and guidelines for PDAs into “objective development standards. Follow an interactive discussion led by an experienced panel to investigate the implications of the Housing Accountability Act, SB35 and other key housing legislation for plan making, code writing, and project review.

Tricks and Tools for Implementing Complete Streets

October 26, 2017


Moving from LOS to VMT: Making SB743 an Asset to Your Community

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Advancing PDA Implementation: Affordable & Workforce Housing Policy & Design

January 26, 2017


Financing PDA Infrastructure – Strategies to Meet Today's Needs

July 27, 2016

Advancing PDA Implementation: Successful Placemaking Strategies

March 23, 2016