I am thoroughly excited to have joined the urban planning program and Columbia GSAPP. It’s such a privilege to work with a community of accomplished faculty, staff, students, and alumni. With its long and storied history, the program has a wealth of experience and energy to draw from, of course not without challenges. The first months of my directorship have been an extended listening tour, with students individually and in group discussions, with our talented faculty and especially those deeply engaged in practice, with our alumni and associated planning organizations, and with our partners at and beyond Columbia GSAPP.
Articulating a vision for the urban planning program has been on our mind a lot lately, not the least given the challenging time we are in. With our home base at Columbia GSAPP and New York City, I see our program connecting the study of the built environment with grounded analysis of socioeconomic and political conditions in globalizing cities, while anchored in sustained engagement with practice and policy. Our curriculum will integrate a humanistic view of the lived experience of urban dwellers with deep understanding of the social, physical, and environmental challenges faced by planners. We will continue to explore the tensions among market forces, civil society, and the goals of planning, paying particular attention to the role of urban analytics and the quest for social justice. Students will learn to analyze and influence collective decisions and efforts to develop and enhance cities and communities towards healthy and sustainable living, social representation and integration, and environmental stewardship.
In the coming months, I hope to continue conversations about how to grow and strengthen our program, and look forward to hearing from and talking with many of you whom I have yet to meet. Students are excited about the spring semester, when the career week (February 7-17), studio reviews, and thesis presentations will all take place, through which they will also connect with alumni and planning organizations. At the 2017 annual conference of the American Planning Association in New York City, we will be hosting an alumni reception on Monday, May 8 -- hope to connect there as well.
Weiping Wu, Professor and Director
We welcomed five new full-time faculty members to the program this year: Assistant Professor Hiba Bou Akar (joining us in the spring), with ongoing research on questions of urban security and violence, and spatial politics in Middle Eastern cities; Visiting Professor Nicholas Klein, with expertise in transportation planning and sustainable forms of travel; Assistant Professor Leah Meisterlin, with academic and professional commitment to data-driven research and design, visualization, and critical analysis of sociopolitical, cultural, and economic contexts; Visiting Professor Kian Tajbakhsh whose work relates to the culture of urbanism as well as the governance of cities and metropolitan regions; and Professor Weiping Wu as the Program Director, an internationally acclaimed scholar working on global urbanization with a specific expertise in issues of migration, housing, and infrastructure of Chinese cities. While our dear colleague Elliott Sclar is experiencing “the joys of emeritus status” (in his own words), he continues to be active with several engagements including advising doctoral students and directing the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at the Earth Institute.
After an extensive search process, we are pleased that Margaret Wiryaman will join the UP office as the Program Manager on January 9, 2017. Managing the urban planning program in a full-time capacity, she will coordinate student advising, career services, program administration, and budget. Margaret is a Boston native and received her B.A. in English and Urban Studies from Tufts University, where she worked in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. After graduating, Margaret joined a management consulting firm to nonprofit organizations in the arts, healthcare, higher education, and human services sectors. She looks forward to meeting the Urban Planning community at GSAPP and beyond.
We are also thankful to have the continued support of Leigh Smith, who will assist both the urban planning and historic preservation programs.
Our first-year students will be participating in five studios in Spring 2017. Three of them are based in New York City and two will be traveling to global locations. Four adjunct faculty members (Eldad Gothelf, Floyd Lapp, Ethel Sheffer, and Douglas Woodward) will be leading the former – much appreciated. As a start to collaborate with other programs at GSAPP, the Belfast studio will be led by design faculty Professor Richard Plunz and planning faculty Nicholas Klein, and will involve both architecture and planning students. We also welcomed a new instruction team of two Spanish designers (Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato). The five studios are:
Spring 2017 will feature new courses that meet growing student interests (thanks to Krithika Prabhakaran for coordinating a student survey) and enhance our program strengths, including Complete Streets Seminar; Design and Planning for Risks, Crisis and Disaster; Digital Restructuring of Urban Space; Exploring Urban Data with Machine Learning; On Spatial Exclusion and Planning; Practicum: Residential Planning in Global Cities; and Social Entrepreneurship and the Urban Built Environment. We are excited to welcome several new adjunct faculty members to teach these: Kate Dunham has worked in a number of global cities in residential design/planning and also teaches in GSAPP’s real estate development program; Thaddeus Pawlowski works in NYC Department of City Planning, including in the Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery Operations during Sandy recovery; Kazuki Sakamoto, a UP alum, has been teaching at Barnard and works for Goldman Sachs in the technology division; Kairos Shen was the chief planner for Boston for more than a decade and also teaches at MIT; and Dr. Laura Wolf-Powers, an expert in economic development, has taught at U Penn, Harvard GSD, and Pratt.
Congratulations to second year UP student Sahra Mirbabae for being awarded the TransitCenter Transit Policy Innovator Scholarship by the Advancing Women in Transportation, Greater New York Chapter. This scholarship was granted with the intent to support women who are planning on pursuing careers in the realm of improving transit policy and governance.
Students are actively engaged in a wide range of internships, including BFJ Planning, BuroHappold Engineering, FCNY Community Planning Fellowship (7 students assisting community boards), Monadnock Development, NYC Department of City Planning, NYC Department of Transportation, Philip Habib & Associates, Regional Plan Association, and Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.
This semester UP organized three tours to agencies and firms within New York City to give students exposure to different careers and opportunities available to urban planners. The three visits were to the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCOEM), New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and HR&A. Each visit provided unique insight into various projects, skill-building, and ways to implement academic learning into practice.
Seven UP students attended the NYCOEM Tour on Sept. 23. The event began with a presentation from Jim McConnell, Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Data and Special Projects, where he showed students how GIS data is quickly gathered and implemented to make strategic maps for city-wide emergency situations. Following the presentation, students were given a tour of the agency by UP alum Heather Roiter Damiano, Director of Hazard Mitigation.
Eighteen UP students attended the NYCEDC Tour on Oct. 28. The event started with a short presentation about NYCEDC, a not-for-profit corporation that promotes economic growth across New York City's five boroughs. GSAPP alumni who work in construction/assessment, real estate development and consulting gave short presentations about their work, and after the presentations students had the chance to mingle with employees.
Established by urban planning students from Columbia University's GSAPP, the Urban China Network (UCN) serves as an international platform that allows students, scholars, experts, and entrepreneurs who care about urban development issues in China to communicate and interact. On October 15, UCN held the 3rd Urban China Forum with the theme Sharing Smart and Sustainable Urban Development in Chinese Cities. Scholars from top universities across the world and practitioners from the NYC Department of City Planning, CDP, and a law firm came to Columbia GSAPP and discussed urbanization issues in China. The forum generated plenty of positive feedback from the guest speakers and audience. UCN would like to extend the greatest thanks to the director and program’s support and everyone’s participation in the Urban China Forum.
PSO organized a Fall hike this semester to Anthony’s Nose. Eleven planners braved the cold rainy day to to climb the peak, a part of the Appalachian Trail, along the Hudson River. To our delight, the rain stopped as soon as we got off the Metro-North train, and we enjoyed a nice picnic at the top of the peak while taking in the scenic views overlooking the Bear Mountain Bridge.
PSO also organized the annual Thanksgiving UP potluck, which was hosted at the UP lounge. It was a full-house with a large number of planners in attendance who enjoyed a light-hearted evening complete with food, drinks, music and laughter!
Students and Faculty celebrated the end of the Fall semester at the annual Pecha Kucha Night and URBAN Magazine issue launch on Friday, December 9 (thanks to organization by the UP Program Council and URBAN Magazine). The Pecha Kucha presentation format gives each presenter 20 slides with 20 seconds to explain each slide. This year’s theme was climate change, and professors Kaz Sakamoto, Leah Meisterlin, and Peter Marcotullio, all of whom will be teaching courses in the Spring, approached the theme from a variety of angles, from ways to collect data to the future of energy in the United States. Following the presentations, GSAPP’s student-run journal, URBAN Magazine, released their Fall edition, which features articles and illustrations from students and faculty.
Cher, a digital platform-as-provocation and part of a year-long strategic intervention on the platform economy commissioned by the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale: After Belonging, launched its beta-form in September with the opening of the Triennale in Norway. The exhibition in Oslo included a chroma key photo booth installation representing portions of the project's research and position. In November, Leah co-hosted a finissage roundtable at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen to review and discuss the project. Related speaking engagements this semester included presenting on critical datapractices at the AIA Center for Architecture (hosted by the Center's social science committee) and delivering a talk on data analysis and visualization with respect to "Geographies of Difference" at the School of Visual Arts Design Research program's lecture series. In October, Leah co-presented a paper at the Urban History Association conference that introduced spatial methods of analyzing the relationship between New York City's street grid morphology and its patterns of land use.
At Columbia, Leah continued to work with the Rikers Education Program and Columbia's Center for Justice, teaching the Rikers Studio in Architecture and Urban Planning. She was also selected to speak alongside some of the country's most incredible women leaders at the annual Columbia Women's Leadership Conference. Leah also recently received a grant from the University's Provost office for the exploratory phases of a new research project, "DISTANCED: Intersectionality & Gendered Experience of American Urban Space," which will begin in early 2017.
As the Vice President and President Elect of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Professor Weiping Wu organized two big-ideas sessions at the association’s annual conference in Portland in November. One was titled Global Displacements and the Ethics and Politics of Planning, and the other Rendering Spatial Justice: Building the Institutional Infrastructure for a Spatially Inclusive City. Addressing timely and important issues, they both attracted large audiences. She was invited to speak at the Harvard University’s Decoding Asian Urbanism conference, at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, on a panel on Can China Truly Innovate at the Overseas Press Club, and on a panel Design for Survival: Presenting the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at Design Miami. Her two recent publications include "“Urban Residents’ Attitudes toward Migrant Workers: General Assessment and the Role of Social Participation” in an edited book Confronting the Challenges of Urbanization in China: Insights from Social Science Perspectives, and "The Reshaping of Social Relations: Resettled Rural Residents in China” in the journal Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning.
Looking for at least one positive from the recent national election, let’s launch a massive new infrastructure program to upgrade and expand our facilities and services! These efforts usually stimulate the economy and put people to work. A dual funding strategy is needed that focuses on state of good repair/ normal replacement and implementing delayed expansions. With the national budget focused on Social Security /Medicare payments and fighting wars, innovative and new funding sources are needed. Fortunately, many innovative approaches exist but they need to be applied much more than they are currently used. A national infrastructure bank, transit impact fees and public-private partnerships are just a few examples. However, a major new potential funding program, that also has bipartisan support, deals with taxing foreign corporate profits. The current untaxed amounts are estimated to be between $2-3 trillion dollars. If these were taxed at the required federal tax rate of 35%, the yield could approach 1 or more trillion dollars. In addition, we should also apply the lessons learned from the Obama stimulus package of 2009 during the deep recession. Then and now we had one party in charge in the executive and legislative branches so timing is crucial to have this initiative effectuated. Floyd Lapp, FAICP
The Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS) planning committee brought together a wide range of thought-provoking lectures for the GSAPP community. The speakers engaged students and faculty by discussing their work and bridging the field of urban planning with various disciplines, from health to politics. The semester began with a former UP Director Susan Fainstein’s talk on diversity in planning, and her emphasis on a “just city.” Annette Kim discussed her years of field work in Ho Chi Minh City developing methods of spatial ethnography to understand the city’s vibrant street life, which was published in her book, Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City. Other speakers focused on the role politics plays in development, such as Visiting Professor of Urban Planning Kian Tajbaksh, who presented his work on understanding how different types of institutional design make a difference in planning outcomes by using the case study of Tehran, Iran. Michelle Wilde Anderson from Stanford University presented a timely talk on the unintended consequences of government spending cuts on rust belt cities. These LiPS lectures gave students and faculty new perspectives on topics in urban planning, and planned spring semester talks promise to be equally engaging. Faraz Butte, M.S.UP 2018
The Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS) is a student-run initiative of the Urban Planning program at Columbia University’s GSAPP. All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information or to make program suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The year 2016 marks 100 years of New York City’s historic zoning ordinance. The GSAPP UP Ph.D. students, with leadership by Professor Elliott Sclar and with support from the UP faculty and Dean Andraos, held a series of events to critically engage with zoning policies in New York City and in other cities and regions around the world. The first event took place in March, and featured a New York-focused panel reflecting on the zoning centennial that was moderated by New York Times critic Charles Bagli. On the evening of December 8, GSAPP UP, the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) and the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) jointly hosted an event commenting on a recent MAS report, “The Accidental Skyline”. In a panel moderated by Edith Hsu-Chen, the Manhattan Director of New York City’s Department of City Planning, scholars, practitioners, developers, and architects reflected on the recent advent of “supertall” towers in New York City and the role that zoning has played in facilitating such development. The event also featured a tour of a new MCNY exhibit, “Mastering the Metropolis: New York and Zoning: 1916-2016”. Eric Goldwyn, a GSAPP UP Ph.D. recent graduate, is the associate curator for this exhibit, which is on view at MCNY through April 23, 2017.
On December 9, the GSAPP UP Ph.D. students held a day-long conference, gathering planning scholars and practitioners to critically engage with zoning as a regulatory instrument for planning, architecture, design, as well as an agent for economic, environmental and social justice. The agenda for the conference was to recenter zoning as an object of study at the heart of planning and to consider ways that it can be treated as a powerful tool for practice, while also remembering zoning’s ‘dark’ role in promulgating racial exclusion.
The day of events commenced with opening remarks by conference organizers Valerie Stahl and Bernadette Baird-Zars, followed by a welcome by Dean Amale Andraos. The keynote speaker, Harvard Graduate School of Design Professor Jerold Kayden, kicked off the discussion by outlining six propositions to contextualize the direction of zoning in planning scholarship, practice, and education: zoning is not planning; it is reinventable; it is for sale; it should revisit privileging neighbors and communities; it should be transparent and understandable; and it should be taught in design schools.
The conference was then organized into three panels. The first panel, Exclusionary Zoning: Technical Processes of Social Segregation, was moderated by GSAPP UP Professor Lance Freeman. The panel articulated the detrimental historical legacies and continued effects of discriminatory zoning today. The speakers were University of Maryland Professor and Dean Sonia Hirt, NYU Professor Ingrid Gould Ellen, UNC-Chapel Hill Assistant Professor Andrew Whittemore, and Berkeley scholar Moira O’Neil. The second panel, Zoning in Situ: Enforcements and Circumventions, moderated by GSAPP UP Professor Weiping Wu, presented evidence of the ongoing subversion of zoning regulations in cities around the world. The speakers were SIPA Assistant Professor Paul Lagunes, Harvard Assistant Professor Sai Balakrishnan, University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Rachel Weber, and McGill University Associate Professor Raphaël Fischler. In the last panel, Inclusionary Policies: Zoning’s New Hope, moderated by GSAPP UP Professor Emeritus Elliott Sclar, discussants presented forward-looking policies that are currently using zoning as a bargaining tool to capture public benefits for urban residents. Speakers included New York City Housing Commissioner Vicki Been, UP Ph.D. Candidate Lauren Ames Fischer, Director of the Department of Land Use at the Sao Paolo Municipal Department of Urban Planning Daniel Montandon, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development at HUD Harriet Tregoning.
Click here to see full event details and watch a video from the event.
Nausheen H. Anwar, UP Ph.D. '07, is currently Associate Professor City & Regional Planning, Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA), Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, Pakistan. She has been busy with two post-docs (first at Harvard University and later at the Asia Research Institute, National University Singapore), and researching, writing and publishing on various interrelated themes such as infrastructures, urbanization, gender and climate change; her work focuses on Pakistan. Nausheen is the recipient of several grants. This includes a 3-year CAD 500,000 IDRC grant on understanding the links between gender, vulnerability and violence in urban Pakistan; Final Report can be found here. In a new AHRC/EHRC grant, Nausheen has partnered with the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London to investigate climate change and the gendered politics of land dispossession in Pakistan, looking specifically at mega-infrastructure projects that involve Chinese foreign investment.
Sarah Bowen, M.S. UP '00, has been with Michael Baker International for 12 years focusing on hazard mitigation, floodplain management, and resiliency planning. She would love to hear from alumni and students working on or interested in similar topics. Her most recent win is her firm’s third update of the Pennsylvania State Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Gavin Browning, M.S. UP '08, has just completed a project called Housing Works History, funded by the Graham Foundation. It is a history of the housing and services built by the organization Housing Works, and it will launch on February 21 at the New York Public Library. More information about the Graham Foundation can be found here.
Maurie Cohen, M.S. UP '87, is Professor of Sustainability Studies and Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is also Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute, co-founder and Executive Board Member of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI), and Editor of the journal Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy. His most recent book is The Future of Consumer Society: Prospects for Sustainability in the New Economy (Oxford University Press, 2017).
Nan Ellin, Ph.D., M.S. UP '83, is now Dean at the University of Texas Arlington since January 2015. Since she has been Dean, the sponsored research of the Institute of Urban Studies has grown exponentially (by 1,200%). This article just appeared in the October issue of 8D Magazine8, a popular Dallas city magazine. Also, this interview appeared in Columns, the Dallas AIA Magazine. She would be happy to meet with any Columbia alumni who may be interested in teaching at UTA.
Dr. Harvey Fialkoff, M.S. UP '75 / UP Ph.D. '83, currently lives in Israel and works as a planning consultant and university lecturer in planning. Some examples of the planning projects that he is currently involved in are: a new neighborhood in Tel Aviv on a site of an airport that is schedule to be closed, a revitalization of an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem and a policy study for diversity and inclusion for the Ministry of Social Equality.
Alexandria Fiorini, M.S. UP '15, works as an environmental planner at LSA, an employee-owned consulting firm in California. She is also currently working on National Environmental Policy Act and California Environmental Quality Act compliance for the California High Speed Rail Project.
James Garland, M.S. UP '02, has worked in various modes within the U.S. Department of Transportation for over 14 years. His career has led him to positions in Atlanta, Seattle, and now Washington, DC. Currently, James is the Team Leader for the Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program at the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration. The TPCB Program is designed to help decision makers, transportation officials, and planning practitioners resolve the increasingly complex issues they face when addressing transportation needs in their communities. This comprehensive program for training, technical assistance, and support targets State, metropolitan, local, regional, and Tribal governments, transit operators, and community leaders. James is currently launching a new effort surrounding the concept of Megaregions, in addition to implementing the recent reauthorization bill better known as Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.
Ebru Gencer UP Ph.D. '07, is the founding director of the Center for Urban Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience, a non-profit research organization based in New York City and also the Chair of an advisory team to the UN Office for Risk Reduction.
Jennifer Jacobs Guzmán, M.S. UP '07, has been working at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development since 2007, first in the agency's Planning Division then a role working with the agency's Strategic Planning team. Since 2013, she has been working with the agency's Division of Special Needs Planning, which is responsible for managing two loan programs for the city that serve low income homeless, disabled and senior New Yorkers. Jennifer currently live in Mamaroneck, NY with her family, and serves on the board of the Washingtonville Housing Alliance, a small affordable housing organization In Mamaroneck.
Dan Hewes, M.S. UP '15, has been actively working in NYC since graduation this past May. He was a manager at a NYCHA non-profit and is now doing project development for a site called Gowanus Bay Terminal (GBX) in Red Hook (which was also the same site as his studio in 2014). He would love to stay in touch with the current class and is offering any students to reach out if they are interested in wanting to learn more.
Patrick Emmanue Ramos Jalasco, M.S. UP '15, is currently workings for Palafox Associates in the Philippines. Palafox Associates is a multi-disciplinary firm that mainly focuses on architecture and urban master planning. The firm is doing a lot of urban planning projects since urban planning has become a salient issue the past few years. A lot of cities and municipalities in the country do not have any land use/urban development plans so a lot of city government officials seek the firm’s help in creating land use plans for their respective cities. Patrick’s advice for students is to take advantage of the resources at Columbia. There are a lot of resources outside of GSAPP that are just as crucial to planning, and they're paying tons of money for their education so might as well learn as much as you can from a prestigious institution.
Andrew Lassiter, M.S. UP '16, graduated in May and has been teaching for the past semester in the Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College (in the program coordinated by UP faculty Moshe Adler). And this past semester he started a research position with a Tel-Aviv based startup called Madlan that is expanding to NYC. His recommendation to current students, is to recognize that it's never too early to start networking. Go to conferences, lectures, and presentations, follow up with people you meet, and put yourself out there. Use your thesis as an opportunity to meet people in the areas of the planning world that interest you!
Joyce Nasozi, M.S. UP '08, has worn many hats since graduating in 2008, but for the past five years, she has been running her own home decor company. She currently lives in New York City and works with local tailors and importers, as well as fair trade artisans in Uganda to produce her collections, available online and at a variety of independent stores throughout the country. It is her spin on social entrepreneurship, and much of her model is based on what she learned in urban economics curing her studies at GSAPP. Please visit her website here.
Cuthbert A. Onikute, M.S. UP '13, is running a business in Guinea-Conakry that collects and process solid waste in secondary cities into things like fertilizer, briquettes, recyclable materials, and energy. They are currently serving over 450 customers and aim to be serving 1200 customers within the next three months. Our goal to be serving over 5000 customers within the next 12 months and over 8000 within the next 18. If any students are interested in gaining hands on experience, using their GIS experience, or just with a social enterprise working in fast growing cities of West Africa, Cuthbert would be happy to chat with any students who may have an interest or questions.
Devan Reiff, M.S. UP '01, is currently a planner with the City of Oakland, California. During the last nine years, he has worked on long-term planning processes, citywide rezoning, and retaining the City’s major sports franchises (Oakland Raiders, Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors) while promoting new development at the publicly-owned Coliseum site; managing a once-a-decade City Council redistricting. He is currently working on a new permitting program for mobile food vendors. GSAPP students and alumni are welcome to contact him to discuss the ever-changing planning landscape in the Bay Area.
Sonal Shah, M.S. UP '08, is an architect-urban planner with 12 years’ experience across two dozen cities in India. She currently leads ITDP India's urban planning research, projects and publications and their upcoming program on Gender and Sustainable Transport. Some relevant projects include formulating a state level transit-oriented development policy in Jharkhand, coordinating street design and public space improvement in Prahlad Nagar (Ahmedabad), participate as a Committee member and review chapters of India's first Urban Roads Manual. Some of her past work included engendering India's national urban planning guidelines, improving pedestrian accessibility in Mumbai, public space design in Naya Raipur, formulating a redevelopment policy and urban design proposal for the textile mill lands in Mumbai. Sonal has presented in national and international conferences such as Walk 21 (Munich), Ecomobility Coference (Changwon), Mobilize Yichang, Urban Planning and Violence (Ahmedabad), ConnectKaro (Mumbai). She has also conducted workshops/ taught Master classes at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Studio-X Mumbai, KRVIA Mumbai and with students of the JJ School of Architecture and Barnard. An active participant of the Columbia Alumni Association of India, Sonal has been instrumental in conceptualizing the Chai and Chat talks - a series of small informal conversations between prominent Columbia alums and other alumni in India. Sonal looks forward to being more involved with the urban planning program to encourage more India-based studios, internships and placements.
Maxwell Sokol, M.S. UP '12, was elected President of the American Planning Association (APA) New York Metro Chapter. He will assume this role in January 2017. In August, he was also promoted to Lead Planner at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Brian Stokle, M.S. UP '06, co-wrote a white paper for the San Francisco Bay Area think tank SPUR on planning a second Transbay crossing which is similar to a Trans Hudson Tunnel, but longer. He is also advocating with the small but effective group, Connect Oakland, calling for the removal of a freeway, and replacing it with a transit rail tunnel, boulevard housing, office and other development. He is currently working as a planner at the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Recent projects include shadow studies, preparing managed retreat of Ocean Beach due to sea level rise, and planning for improving some parks through community outreach.