Life without Parking in San Francisco

Life without Parking in San Francisco

Sustainable
In December 2018, San Francisco became the largest U.S. city to eliminate parking requirements for new buildings, including new residential buildings. In other words, developers can now design and build multi-story, multi-unit buildings without any on-site (i.e., off-street) parking. Since then, several new buildings have been approved, designed, constructed, and are under construction without a single parking space. And even though I currently do not own a car and use my bike, plus public transit and the occasional taxi, I was surprised to see the plans for these new buildings without the typical underground parking structures. It wasn't easy to imagine a new building without parking since I have been a licensed civil engineer for some time now. Everything I have ever designed, including residential, commercial, or industrial facilities, had…
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The Housing Crisis and Program Management

The Housing Crisis and Program Management

Sustainable
Over the past few months, as a member of a land-use committee, I have been reviewing new construction projects in the Mission. I have noticed two things: 1) the residential projects lack any parking but do include bike storage, which I like; and 2) there seems to be a disconnect between the buildings being proposed and the general idea of increasing affordable housing and decreasing displacement. And it is easy to understand why. In the architectural-engineering-construction (AEC) industry, we work project by project. However, housing, homelessness, crime, and other “phenomena” that affect us collectively, must be addressed in the same manner: collectively. In housing, for example, we gather the stakeholder requirements, agency regulations, design criteria, and so on and stay focused on our site, but these issues are not contained…
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Water Recycling Options

Water Recycling Options

Sustainable
Water recycling has been around since the dawn of humanity. Back then, it was mainly in the form of rainwater harvesting, as far as we know today, but currently, there are many other options available to us. Therefore it is surprising why we do not employ more techniques, especially in the middle of a drought, which officially started at the turn of the century here in California. The simplest answer is that we can still turn on faucets and flush toilets unhindered. Therefore, there is no incentive to do anything more. But what would happen, for instance, if the water supply were severely reduced? Well, then it would be a priority, and we would turn into water supply hunters, which we might turn our future descendants into. And that is…
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Missed opportunities in the Built Environment

Missed opportunities in the Built Environment

Civil Engineering, Sustainable
A few months ago, I joined a non-profit committee, which reviews new building construction in a San Francisco district. The main purpose of the review is to make sure the new building will fit aesthetically in the neighborhood, advocate for affordable housing, and reduce resident displacement. However, I am always surprised how developers and their architects often do not even try to design any sustainability features into the building. And I understand well enough how expensive it is to build in the City. Still, my concern is that if people in a city as progressive as SF do not care about sustainability, what can we expect from other parts of the country and the world at large? Recently, I was part of a review team for a new building, which…
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MoSCoW is not just the capital of Russia

MoSCoW is not just the capital of Russia

Civil Engineering
Recently I was re-watching the old 1974 classic “Earthquake.” And even though the acting or the script s high art, at least in my opinion, the special effects for the time were quite impressive. Also, as a licensed California civil engineer, I can appreciate the movie from a professional standpoint. At one point in the movie, for example, Charlton Heston argues with a client about improving the specifications on his building project. The client reminds him that he meets State and City codes, but Heston tells him it is not enough in a seismic zone such as Los Angeles, which is where the movie takes place. In project management, as well as in software development and business analysis, to name a few, there is always a need to prioritize the…
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Greening the Urban Landscape

Greening the Urban Landscape

Sustainable
A couple of decades ago, a colleague told me he envisioned turning Montgomery Street into a city garden. His vision was to someday walk up Montgomery Street after work and literally pick fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and other veggies for a dinner salad. At the time, I thought he was out of touch with reality; however, currently, the idea does not seem quite as farfetched. Of course, that is not to say that I expect to see bulldozers tearing up the streetscape on Montgomery. Still, we are starting to see a stronger shift towards sustainability, including water rainwater harvesting, green roofs, and the surprising news that California and GM want electric vehicles to be the norm by 2035. As far as replacing roads with urban gardens, we are starting to see…
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Studying for the PMI-ACP and PMP

Studying for the PMI-ACP and PMP

Project Management
At PM Workshops, my business partner and I are currently writing a book of sample questions for the PMP exam and the PMI-ACP, which will ultimately be tied into PMBOK 7 when it comes out. And as I try to write thoughtful questions and include extracts from case studies we have worked on, I am reminded by how much more challenging the test has become since I first took it over a decade ago and how much more applicable it is as well. When I first took the exam, there was hardly any mention of Agile, but that has all changed in the last few years, which is a great thing. Even in traditionally “waterfall” projects, there are always components in the project, which benefit from an Agile approach; and…
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Sustainability begins at home!

Sustainability begins at home!

Sustainable
Personally, the pandemic reinforced the meaning of the adage “necessity is the mother of invention.” However, I would add innovation to this old refrain. In addition to inventing new ways to get around the pandemic, such as the popularity of using “zoom,” we also had to make some innovative changes to get by. For many of us, this innovation was necessary to save resources, save money, or increase our efficiency at home, work, or both. For example, when the hardware stores closed, I developed ways to use materials I already had at home to fix and/or jerry-rig some things. In this same vein, I recommend finding ways to further the cause of sustainability by starting with some household modifications and upgrades. We all slowly but surely begin to understand the…
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The “greening’ of San Francisco

The “greening’ of San Francisco

Sustainable
Although sometimes it feels like “positive” changes occur at a glacial pace, change is still happening all around us for the sake of a ‘greener” environment, such as workshops on reclaiming water at home for garden landscaping, planting trees in the Mission (www.missionverde.com) to turning underutilized public-right-of way properties into parks. Whatever the project is, it is slowly but surely moving us in the right direction. For me, my pet project has been turning as much paved area back into dirt or grass, especially around my neighborhood: Bernal Heights. My family and I have not owned a car for nine years, though we think we might need to break down and get one since our daughter’s new school is all the way up near Fort Mason. Still, the last nine…
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Five things to look for when hiring a civil engineer

Five things to look for when hiring a civil engineer

Civil Engineering
As the economy starts roaring back in the Bay Area, as well as throughout much of California, we are seeing more and more construction work in the residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure sectors. Therefore, the need to hire civil engineers (CEs) has risen at a considerable pace, since CEs provide the necessary expertise required to design and build out the area where the project work will take place. This work includes grading and drainage design, as well as upfront work, such as erosion and sedimentation control. Additionally, CEs provide the utility design required for water, sanitary and storm sewers, irrigation and others. Five things to look for when hiring a civil engineer So, how do we find the best CE for your project? The best way is to verify the…
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