April 2023



Rena Masten Leddy, LPM

Urban Place Consulting Group

Immediate Past President

Steve Snider

Downtown Oakland Association


Vice President

Austin Metoyer

Downtown Long Beach Alliance

2nd Vice President

Suzanne Holley

Downtown Center Business Improvement District (LA)


Chloe Shipp

San Jose Downtown Association



John Caner

Downtown Berkeley Association


At-Large Directors

Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner

City of Oakland

Mackenzie Carter, LPM

The Hollywood Partnership

Kevin Clerici

Downtown Ventura Partners

Josh Coyne

Downtown San Diego Partnership

Kathy Hemmenway

Walnut Creek Downtown

Business Association

Christian Martin


Steve Mulheim

Old Pasadena Management District

Jameson Parker

Midtown Association Sacramento

Andrew Robinson

The East Cut

Marisa Rodriguez

Union Square Alliance

Bettina Swagger

Downtown San Luis Obispo

Andrew Thomas

Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. 

Liz Lorand Williams

Downtown Sacramento Partnership


Foster + Partners and Arup collaborate on California High-Speed Rail’s first four Central Valley stations

Foster + Partners

The Central Valley stations will become the grand entrances to America’s first high-speed rail segment – marking a major milestone for sustainable, decarbonized transportation for all Californians.


San Francisco Plans for 82,000 New Housing Units


California housing regulators have granted preliminary approval for the city of San Francisco’s housing element as mandated by the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation process.


LA County captures 33 billion gallons of stormwater from winter storms


The series of winter storms that slammed Southern California has led to the capture of more than 33 billion gallons of stormwater that can be used as future drinking water in Los Angeles County.


New CA Senate Select Committee Formed to Study Bay Area Transit Issues


The stated purpose is to "address the unique challenges and opportunities facing public transportation in the Bay Area as the region emerges from the pandemic."


San Francisco ranked 3rd best city for retirees in US


Retirees approach their golden years in countless ways—some may prefer a rural and quiet small town, a spot near the water, or a retirement community in a warm place. Others may want a big city with plenty of exciting activities seniors can participate in whenever their heart desires. 


There’s a plan to make e-bikes more affordable for low-income Californians. Here’s what to expect

Los Angeles Times

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is launching a program to encourage more Californians to replace vehicle trips with electric bikes


Do you have your ear to the ground when it comes to the latest downtown news in your region? To submit news to be considered for inclusion in the newsletter, please contact us.

Letter from President of the Board, Rena Masten Leddy

Last week, the California Downtown Association, the International Downtown Association and the San Jose Downtown Association hosted the West Coast Urban District Forum. The forum, which was held over two days, provided a platform for attendees to share best practices, learn from one another, and discuss the challenges facing urban districts, downtowns and Main Streets.

The first day of the forum featured a welcome to San Jose from Mayor Matt Mahan, and Councilmember Omar Torres, both are very supportive and bullish on the importance of downtowns. The keynote speaker on Thursday was Dr. Luke Bermann, Director of Behavioral Health Services for the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency. He spoke about the challenges in housing, addiction and mental health services. He also provided some key takeaways: 

- It is important to establish early interventions and prevention in addressing mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.

- There is a need for a holistic approach to mental health treatment and addiction - it’s not one solution.

- There is a missing link - Long Term Care. He used a metaphor to explain that situation, saying that California has built a “very attractive door” with its current Care Court initiatives and other law changes regarding mental health and addiction but there isn’t anything behind the door.

The second day of the forum included keynote speaker Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, President of San Jose State University in conversation with Edward Tan, San Jose Downtown Association Board member and VP of Marketing for San Jose State University. Dr. Teniente-Mason understands the reciprocity in the relationship between a university and downtown. Some of her key takeaways were:

- Dr. Teniente-Mason spoke about “place-based pedagogy” . Place-based pedagogy is an educational approach that emphasizes the importance of learning with a specific local context or place. The learning can be more meaningful and engaging when it is situated within a special local context or community.

- With this in mind, students contribute to the local community whether it is working on implementing solutions to local issues or contributing to revitalizing downtown by hosting classes in vacant storefronts, or sports practices in downtown public spaces.

- She encouraged attendees to explore a relationship with local universities to help with our work in revitalizing our urban centers and main streets. 

The forum focused on workshops and breakout sessions, where attendees had the opportunity to delve deeper into specific topics and share their own experiences and insights. One of the highlights of the forum was a panel discussion with five California-based CEOs and Executive Directors sharing their leadership journeys. The panelists included representatives from Union Square San Francisco, River District Sacramento, downtown San Jose, Hollywood and downtown Long Beach. Other topics included filling vacant retail space, statewide advocacy and policy, public-private partnerships that work on homelessness, placemaking, and of course time to network with our peers.

Overall, the West Coast Urban District Forum was a great success. Attendees left with new insights and ideas, and a greater sense of connection to the broader urban district community. We look forward to next year's forum, and to continuing the important work of building sustainable and thriving urban districts throughout the West Coast. A special thank you to San Jose Downtown Association and our sponsors.

Rena Masten Leddy, LPM

CDA President

Urban Place Consulting Group


Government Affairs Report by Jason Bryant

CDA Prioritizes Major Issues as the Legislature’s Policymaking Kicks into High Gear


With the California Downtown Association’s policy priorities coming into focus on the heels of the West Coast Urban District Forum in San Jose last week – the organization’s legislative priorities are now seeing major action in the Legislature. Ranging from bills to support the vibrancy of our downtowns through flexible dining options, to addressing the way in which the state treats those with server mental illness, CDA’s advocacy efforts are pushing a strong legislative agenda in the Capitol this year.  

The spring is dominated by several key legislative deadlines in the State Capitol. The first key date is April 28th which marks the last day for policy committees to hear fiscal bills. June 2nd is the final day for all bills to be passed out of the house in which they were introduced. All bills have to clear these legislative hurdles in order for them to continue to move through the legislative process. That means authors and bill sponsors are working feverishly to get their bills heard, and passed, in both the Assembly and Senate in the next 60 days as these deadlines approach.

With legislative activity in full swing, our advocacy efforts are focused on three top public policy priorities this legislative session:  

Priority #1: Economic Recovery and New Development in our Districts

Priority #2: Fostering a Safe & Welcoming Environment in our Downtowns 

Priority #3: Enhancing and Protecting the Operational Effectiveness of BIDs

AB 1217 (Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills) – SUPPORT 

This legislation will extend provisions of AB 61 (Gabriel, 2021) which has helped to facilitate the state’s restaurant recovery by building on local programs such as the City of San Francisco’s “Shared Spaces” program, San Jose’s “Al Fresco” plan, Sacramento’s “Farm to Fork Al Fresco”, Long Beach’s “Open Streets Initiative”, San Diego’s “Slow Streets Program”, and Los Angeles’s “L.A. Al Fresco Program” to expand outdoor dining opportunities statewide.

These local programs have been a tremendous success — and have proven to be incredibly valuable for so many community restaurants throughout the state. AB 1217 will help community restaurants in the following ways:

- Ensuring restaurants statewide can take advantage of local outdoor dining expansion opportunities;

- Extending the ABC’s regulatory relief, allowing expanded outdoor alcohol;

- Allowing for the preparation and service of food as a temporary satellite food service without obtaining a separate satellite food service permit

AB 1217 contains some of the most successful elements of emergency pandemic relief and continues beyond the timeline provided in AB 61. We know that expanded outdoor dining has been critical to the success of so many community restaurants as they work to recover from the pandemic.

SB 43 (Eggman, D-Stockton) – SUPPORT

This legislation would update the definition of “gravely disabled” to include a new focus on preventing serious physical and mental harm stemming from a person’s inability to provide for their needs for nourishment, personal or medical care, shelter, or attend to self-protection or personal safety, due to their mental or substance use disorder. When making a determination about the risk of harm, the bill would require the court to consider when a person is unable to appreciate the nature of their disorder and that their decision-making is impaired due to their lack of insight into their mental or medical disorders.

It would also create a hearsay exemption for information contained in a medical record, presented by an expert witness, in order to ensure all relevant information is presented to, and considered by, the court when making a gravely disabled determination.

The focus of the gravely disabled definition solely on the ability to provide for one’s food, clothing, and shelter is inadequate to address the real needs in our communities and often leads to criminalization and jail rather than treatment. This standard has remained largely unchanged since 1967 and has become a serious barrier to needed treatment for those at risk of dying on our streets. We are in the midst of a worsening behavioral health crisis and the failure to address this definition has led to tragedy for more and more families desperate to get help for their loved ones. 

SB 363 (Eggman, D-Stockton) – SUPPORT 

The bill would require, by January 1, 2025, a real-time behavioral health bed database to collect, aggregate, and display information about beds in inpatient psychiatric facilities, crisis stabilization units, residential community mental health facilities, and licensed residential alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities. This information would help provide timely access to care and increase coordination between service settings. 

A significant roadblock in our fragmented behavioral health continuum is a lack of care coordination between various provider types and a lack of information about which resources are accessible or available in the community. SB 363 would require the database to include a minimum baseline of information, including the contact information for a facility’s designated employee, the types of diagnosis or treatments for which the bed is appropriate, and the target populations served at the facility. The database would also have the capacity to enable searches to identify beds that are appropriate for individuals in need of inpatient or residential mental health or substance use disorder treatment. 

AB 557 (Hart, D-Santa Barbara) – SUPPORT 

This legislation eliminates the January 1, 2024 sunset on the provisions of the Brown Act that provided additional flexibility for local agencies looking to meet remotely during an emergency while still maintaining public access and transparency. This legislation will provide a narrow but important emergency authority, allowing local governing bodies to safely meet and take action during applicable states of emergency declared by the Governor.

AB 361 (Rivas, 2021) codified, until Jan 1, 2024, numerous provisions of Governor Newsom’s Executive Orders pertaining to the Brown Act in 2020. The provisions only apply in the event that an emergency situation or public health orders prevent a local agency board from meeting in-person. If the meeting could still be held in-person without endangering local agency board members or personnel, then the local agency would not be permitted to rely on the provisions added to California Government Code section 54953 by AB 361. Local agencies needing to meet remotely pursuant to those provisions are only permitted to do so in concert with an emergency declared by the Governor of California.

By removing the sunset, AB 557 preserves the critical flexibility for local agencies needing to meet remotely to continue providing the public with essential services during a Governor-declared emergency. By adjusting the renewal period for resolutions to 45 days (up from 30 days), AB 557 would provide accommodation for those agencies regularly meeting on a fixed date every month.

Jason Bryant 

Bryant Government Affairs

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