Growing Smarter Together Awards 2014

ABAG’s Eighth Annual Growing Smarter Together Awards were presented during its Spring General Assembly to the cities of Redwood City, Walnut Creek, Campbell, Richmond, Fremont, South San Francisco, and Vallejo. The role of the cities’ public private partners was also recognized with representatives praised for their contributions.



Welcome by Julie Pierce, ABAG President and Clayton Councilmember


Urban Design Award: City of Vallejo and Domus Development for Temple Art Lofts

The City of Vallejo in partnership with Domus Development received the Urban Design Award for their innovative housing for artists with places to conduct the business of art, and contribute to a sustainable walkable efforts to revitalize Downtown Vallejo through their adaptive reuse of Temple Art Lofts.  Domus Temple Arts LoftsDevelopment took two historic buildings the Masonic Temple and the original city hall, and crafted them together to preserve spaces, classic architecture, and create lofts of residential over commercial art-centric retail.  The end result was historic affordable community. The revitalization and design done by the City extended to streetscaping and other entertainment sites like Empress Theater. The ripple effect of Temple Art Lofts created a vibrant arts and entertainment district that took an area with 65% store front commercial vacancy rate and embraced new businesses and series of galleries opening on every block. The Temple Arts Loft received the California Preservation Design Award and the Timmy Award for adaptive reuse from an affordable perspective.


Public Private Partnership Award: City of Campbell, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Summerhill Homes for Maravilla Development

This milestone planning effort and collaboration of the City of Campbell, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Summerhill Homes was recognized with one of two awards for Public Private Partnership.  Recognizing the critical need for affordable housing in Campbell and the fact that many residents working in public and Maravilla Developmentprivate jobs can’t afford to purchase a home in Silicon Valley, Campbell with the Santa Clara Valley Water District partnered to identify a parcel owned by the Water District that was underutilized and needed clean up.  Santa Clara Valley Water District welcomed the opportunity to upgrade and redesign the needed pumping stations located at the site and at the same time help produce affordable housing. Summerhill Homes collaborated with the City and the Water District during a challenging market to produce the well-designed Maravilla Town Development, consisting of 40 homes. The two different housing types offered included 16 single-family two-story detached homes at market rate, and 24 three-story attached homes that were affordable housing units.  The location at the corner of San Tomas and Campbell Avenue made this an outstanding workforce affordable housing development, close to downtown, close to jobs, and close to local businesses.


Public Private Partnership Award: City of Walnut Creek and Habitat for Humanity for Pleasant Creek Homes

The City of Walnut Creek and Habitat for Humanity-East Bay/Silicon Valley also received a Public Private Partnership Award for their exemplary collaboration and development of Pleasant Creek Homes (10 two-three-and-four bedroom homes on the site for sale to Very-Low, Low, and Moderate Income families.) Walnut Creek

By means of  Walnut Creek and Habitat’s partnership, the City acquired a remnant Caltrans parcel, a vacant undeveloped lot secured by a chain fence, for affordable ownership housing on Barkley Avenue, across from Walnut Creek BART Station.  Habitat then expanded the site through a private donation of adjacent land. The City approved a density bonus to maximize units on the site, and provided $1,050,000 toward the project, requiring the site plan include a public easement to allow better neighborhood access to BART. The City and Habitat also partnered successfully on State grant applications, including $550,000 from the BEGIN program, $480,000 from the CalHome Program and $290,000 from the Self-Help Program. Numerous faith based groups and business organizations donated hundreds of hours to the project which will be completed in June 2014, an outstanding Habitat-organized contribution of community sweat equity.  This Pleasant Creek project is significant in Walnut Creek because it provides needed affordable home ownership opportunities for large family units, workforce housing particularly for Very Low and Low Income families.


Preserving and Protecting the Environment Award: City of Richmond and Marin Clean Energy –Community Choice Aggregator

The partnership of the City of Richmond with Marin Clean Energy, which is a local not for profit agency Richmond MCEproviding energy alternatives, to provide community energy choice is a model of efforts to preserve and protect the environment. After extensive outreach to community groups, Richmond residents (85%) chose their power supply with Marin Clean Energy (MCE) starting July 2013. All electric users in the City of Richmond had three choices for their electricity supply which was to choose PG&E—19% renewable; MCE’s light green product at 50% renewable; or opting up to deep green which is 100% renewable.   To date, because of the sustainable renewable energy choices, the city has offset over 13 million pounds of greenhouse gasses, which is equivalent to taking about 1200 cars off the road or planting 5000 acres of forest.  This partnership with MCE has also advanced economic and social equity in Richmond providing support to energy efficiency workforce development programs, with graduates employed in initiatives to upgrade 9,000 street lights to energy efficient LED technology, provide solar energy systems, and energy conservation.


On the Ground—Getting It Done Award: City of Fremont for Downtown Fremont-General Plan

The city of Fremont was recognized with an On the Ground—Getting It Done award for the Downtown Fremont Community Plan. This Plan transforms this auto-oriented area into anFremont Paragon Apts urban core with a mix of uses within walking distance to viable transit options. Implementation efforts have begun with the completion of the downtown’s first mixed use housing project, a 300 unit housing project called Paragon Apartments. Implementation efforts also include the opening of Whole Foods market, the initiation of Civic Center master plans, and the development of arts and cultural event programming. To improve Downtown transportation connections, Fremont was awarded a $5.8 million One Bay Area Grant, which provides for the extension of Capitol Avenue and other pedestrian/bicycle connections and enhancements from Downtown to the Fremont BART station.  Placemaking efforts, such as art and cultural events, are scheduled downtown to establish it as the “social-heart of the city.” The Civic Center is envisioned to include a public plaza/park featuring a designated Art Walk, further emphasizing the civic and cultural focal point along Capitol Avenue and within the Downtown.


Sharing the Benefits Award:  City of South San Francisco for 636 El Camino –Affordable Housing for Families

South San Francisco was awarded the Sharing the Benefits Award because of its development with MidPen Housing of 636 El Camino into workforce housing near transit and jobs. 636 El Camino is a model for infill development by transforming a mobile home park into a vibrant, mixed-use, affordable housing communityEl Camino for families. The community project managed by MidPen Services Corporation includes 109 affordable rental apartments, community gardens, children’s outdoor play areas, a fitness center, a computer labs and 5,700 square feet of retail space on the ground level facing El Camino Real. All residents have access to a robust set of onsite services, and twenty units have been set aside for individuals with mental health challenges who will receive additional support services managed by the County of San Mateo Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Located in close proximity to major bus lines, BART, schools, restaurants and shopping, 636 El Camino supports South San Francisco’s vision to share the benefits and to provide high density, transit oriented development along the El Camino Corridor, furthering the Grand Boulevard Initiative.  


Powering Forward—Innovation and Technology Award: City of Redwood City for Social Media—Police Safety Campaign

Redwood City, the first recipient of the Innovation and Technology award, is recognized for their groundbreaking use of social media and technology to reach their community in a Police Safety Campaign.Redwood City The Redwood City Police Department is in the forefront in the Bay Area in using social media to better engage the community and serve their safety needs. Their social media platform is a network of services, using Facebook, Video chat for online face to face interaction, Vimeo, blog, twitter feed, and Pinterest which posts stolen retrieved items to reunite stolen property with owners.  Redwood City is the first police department to have a full Spanish language Facebook page to provide culturally competent and culturally appropriate content for the city’s Hispanic audience.  The community response has been outstanding with participation online and in person assistance increased, public safety made tangible, and resources leveraged well. In addition, the City has launched a brand new app, My Redwood City, that connects the seventy thousand residents to their council, city events, parking, sending maintenance reports, reporting when the streetlights are out and potholes emerging, and truly connecting the city to its residents in real time.


Start it Up Award: City of Richmond for Richmond General Plan

The Start it Up award was presented for the City of Richmond for its General Plan 2030 which guides the RichmondCity’s sustainable growth and development, providing a comprehensive framework for developing a healthy city and healthy neighborhoods. This comprehensive community-driven General Plan contains 15 elements, over the required seven, to address land use, economic development, housing, transportation, climate change, public safety, arts and culture, and open space conservation strategies. The Community Health and Wellness Element and Climate Change Element are innovative additions, making Richmond one of the first cities in the country to include a comprehensive element dedicated to community health and wellness. Hundreds of community meetings helped craft a plan committed to the principles of complete streets, healthy equity, affordable housing: a plan focusing on the creation, revitalization, and preservation of vibrant, walkable urban places.


Past Award Winners have included the city of El Cerrito (Urban Design Award), Santa Clara County (Public-Private Partnership, Preserving and Protecting the Environment, and Start It Up Awards); the City of Dublin (Sharing the Benefits); the City of Palo Alto and Palo Alto Housing Corporation (On the Ground, Getting It Done); Grand Boulevard Initiative (Public Private Partnership); the City of Livermore (Urban Design Award); and the City of Albany (Preserving and Protecting the Environment).


Descriptions and videos of other previous award winners are below.

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