Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. LDC Welcomes Two New Senior Staff

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    LDC is pleased to announce the addition of two new senior staff members, Mary Lydon and Jamie Taylor. Ms. Lydon will bring her 25 years of experience in the land use arena to LDC to focus on communications and innovation. Ms. Taylor, a national expert on the structural determinants of homelessness and its intersection with health and criminal justice systems, will be joining our Homelessness Policy and Systems team.

    Mary Lydon joined our firm as a Principal and will lead marketing, communications and business development. She has a depth of experience in Smart Growth land use planning, real estate markets, community and stakeholder participation, and economic development strategies. Ms. Lydon has worked with private-sector developers, public-sector agencies, and nonprofit organizations.  She is a former Planning Commissioner and Stadium Advisory Group member for the City of San Diego and has held key leadership roles within the Housing You Matters Coalition, Urban Land Institute, the Downtown San Diego Partnership and several nonprofit boards over her career.  Ms. Lydon attended Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and completed the Executive Leadership Program in 2010.  She also holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Ms. Lydon can be reached at

    Jamie Taylor is joining our firm as a Senior Principal. She has been conducting program evaluations and providing technical assistance on evaluation design and data utilization to improve policy and program planning for over 25 years. Working for federal, state and local agencies, Dr. Taylor provides subject matter expertise on the structural determinants of homelessness, and its intersection with health and criminal justice systems. Dr. Taylor is currently leading a multi-site data integration project, combining data analytics, rapid-cycle evaluation, and a sustainable integrated data infrastructure to connect health, and housing data, supporting cross-sector goals for health and housing stability. As a leading expert on applied analytics, Dr. Taylor is also the site coordinator for a national evaluation to assess the impacts of housing and shared medical appointment treatment for people who experience long term homelessness, and substance use disorders. She also led a Shared Housing White Paper project for SAMHSA, and currently leads the development of a Data to Action Training curriculum and a national Community of Practice to build capacities for data-driven decision making among state and local data leaders. Previously, Dr. Taylor was the project lead providing evaluation training and technical assistance to 20 states funded under SAMHSA’s Now Is the Time Project AWARE, and lead developer of an 8-module online Data Essentials Training Curriculum to advance data literacy and data-driven planning capacities. She can be reached at

  2. Community Information Exchange 2019 Summit

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    The upcoming 2019 Community Information Exchange (CIE) Summit, presented by 2-1-1 San Diego, brings together leaders from across the nation to engage in discussion on the intersections of health and social services to build strong and thriving communities.  Last month, we featured 2-1-1 San Diego’s recently released toolkit, which highlights the development and evolution of a CIE. CIE advances care coordination by enabling providers of housing, health and social service providers to engage in cross-sector data sharing.

    The 2nd annual summit, titled Driving Cross-Sector Collaboration and Data Sharing to Create Healthier Communities, will take place on April 24 to 26, 2019 at the Marriot Marquis San Diego. Individuals can register for the summit here.

  3. Housing Policy Course Returns Spring 2019

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    Sen. Toni Atkins speaking at HPLA

    CA Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins speaking at the Housing Policy Leadership Academy

    LeSar Development Consultants’ Housing Policy Leadership Academy is back! The course is a multi-week, intensive learning opportunity for emerging leaders in the San Diego region. Designed for both newcomers and experienced professionals in housing policy, the course covers a broad range of topics including federal policy, state and local policy, housing finance, urban design, and equity issues. Last year’s course speakers included California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, San Diego City Councilmember Georgette Gomez, and San Diego Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry, as well as prominent developers, planners, and housing policy thought leaders.

    The Housing Policy Leadership Academy is maintaining an interest list for its Spring 2019 course.

    Opportunities to register will be announced through LDC’s newsletter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

    Please email Sarah Snook with any questions.

  4. Proposition 10 Creates Local Rent Control Controversy

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    Proposition 10: Rent Control aims to repeal a law that currently prevents city and county governments from enacting rent control. Known as the Costa-Hawkins Act, the law prohibits rent control on single family homes, new housing built after February 1, 1995, or when tenants first move into a unit. If passed, Proposition 10 would restore authority to city and county governments to determine whether they should enact rent control policies and limit how much landlords could raise the rent each year.

    Supporters contend that California renters currently pay 50 percent more than counterparts in other states, straining households’ ability to cover the costs of other necessities such as food, childcare, education, transportation, and healthcare. A policy brief from the Urban Displacement project concludes that the proposition would be beneficial to Bay Area renters, particularly in terms of preventing displacement. It found that including single family homes in rent control ordinances, a policy not permissible under Costa-Hawkins, could have significant impact because they make up an increasing percentage of the area’s rental stock.

    However, the brief also highlights the potential unintended consequences of repealing Costa-Hawkins. In particular, the brief addresses the possibility of units being removed from the rental market. A Terner Center brief highlights other possible consequences, including the possibility of slowing already lagging production. Housing construction in California has not met growing demands, and the report notes that further shortfall would only exacerbate the housing crisis.

    The Terner Center brief also highlights a more nuanced perspective: Proposition 10 aims to increase tenant protections, a necessary action given the housing crisis, but those protections do not have to be implemented in a way that affects production. Instead, they suggest modifications to Costa-Hawkins, including an “anti-gouging” rent cap and further incentives for developers to include affordable units in their market-rate developments.

    Estimating the true effects of Proposition 10 is difficult due to a lack of data surrounding rental units, landlords, and tenants. Additionally, Proposition 10 allows local governments to adopt rent control, but does not require these provisions. As such it is difficult to predict the specifics of the policy across the state. However, the repeal of Costa-Hawkins and implementation of rent control has some potential to negatively impact affordable housing. If Proposition 10 passes, careful consideration will need to be given to the development of specific local policies to truly protect California’s vulnerable communities.

    Jennifer LeSarJennifer LeSar, President and CEO, has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, and brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to comprehensive strategic planning for top executives and executive teams to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, historic, and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs. She can be reached at

  5. No on Prop 6: Gas Tax

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    Pumping GasProposition 6 seeks to repeal the fuel tax approved by the Legislature in 2017. While proponents of the repeal measure argue that the tax will cost families an average of $700 in additional costs annually, a Sacramento Bee article suggests the true cost to California families would fall in the range of $238 to $334 per year. While these costs are not negligible, opponents argue that a No vote is necessary to addressing the backlog of transportation infrastructure needs over the next decade.

    Currently, the gas tax will provide an estimated $52 billion over the next 10 years for infrastructure needs with approximately half of those funds going directly to cities and counties to address local needs. In San Diego, Proposition 6 funding is being used to widen Interstate 5, increase public transit, and resurface streets. In Los Angeles, funds are being used for a variety of active transportation projects, such as bike lanes and trails, pedestrian walkways, and ADA accommodations. Information on projects in other communities statewide can be found on the Rebuilding CA Project Map.

    Jennifer LeSarWith more than 30 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, Jennifer LeSar brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to comprehensive strategic planning for top executives and executive teams to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, historic, and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs. Ms. LeSar’s educational achievements include two advanced degrees from UCLA – a Master of Business Administration in Real Estate, Finance and Nonprofit Management and a Master of Arts in Urban Planning. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College in Political Science and Economics. She can be reached at


  6. 2-1-1 Releases Data Dashboards

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    In late August, 2-1-1 San Diego released a data dashboard tool designed to combine and analyze data from the agency and its many partner service organizations and transform it into easily accessible and actionable information on community assets and resources, needs, and trends used in planning.

    Currently, the dashboard includes information on the activities carried out by 2-1-1 San Diego between August 2017 and July 2018, as well as information on demographics, resources, housing, nutrition, health, the social determinants of health, and utility and technology. The housing dashboard provides data on clients’ housing stability, current living situation, and the immediacy of their need for support or assistance.

    Some of the housing data available through the dashboard will also be used to inform the City of San Diego FY 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan. This data should eventually be able to inform best practices in homelessness systems and public policy.

    Screenshot of 2-1-1 Data Dashboard

  7. LA County Commission Advances Tejon Ranch Proposal

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    The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission voted on Aug. 29 to advance a proposal to develop a significant portion of Tejon Ranch, approximately 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Originally proposed by the Tejon Ranch Co. in 1999, the Centennial project would provide 19,000 homes, jobs, and infrastructure to the area. Opponents have raised concerns about the environmental impact of the project, as well as the risks associated with developing in a wildfire hazard area.

  8. LDC Welcomes New Berkeley, San Diego Team Members

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    LDC is pleased to announce the addition of five new team members to its Berkeley and San Diego offices.

    Ophelia B. Basgal, Senior Principal (part-time)

    Ophelia Basgal is joining our firm as a part-time Senior Principal working on a variety of housing strategy, policy, organizational positioning, and community engagement projects. For the past year and a half, Ophelia has worked alongside us as a subcontractor on a Southern California public housing transformation plan, and as a member of the CASA Technical Committee in the Bay Area.  We are pleased to formalize our relationship with her as a part-time member of our team.  Ophelia will affiliate with our Berkeley office and can be reached at

    Ophelia brings nearly four decades of experience with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, including 27 years as the Executive Director of the Alameda County Housing Authority and five years as the Regional Administrator for HUD in Region IX with regular contact with the HUD Public and Indian Housing staff and Region IX Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). As HUD Region IX Administrator, Ms. Basgal led a team of approximately 650 employees in five field offices (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Territory of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa) and was responsible for effective delivery of HUD’s programs and services to customers within the Region. Ophelia also previously served as Executive Director the Alameda County and Dublin, California Housing Authorities from 1978 to 2005. In that role, she oversaw an administrative budget of $8.2 million and total operating budget of $82 million. Ophelia has a master’s degree in Social Welfare Administration from the University of California and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Arizona State University.

    Melina Whitehead, Senior Principal (part-time)

    Melina WhiteheadMelina Whitehead joins our firm as a part-time Senior Principal and will focus on a portfolio of housing authority and HUD-related work including compliance, disaster recovery, finance, governance, organizational development, and policy. Melina brings nearly three decades of experience with HUD program compliance, most recently as the Division Director of the San Francisco Office of Public Housing. Melina will affiliate with our Berkeley office and can be reached at

    While serving as the Division Director of the San Francisco Office of Public Housing, Melina was responsible for providing technical assistance and monitoring programs administered by 56 Northern California PHAs who receive annual federal funding in excess of $1.35 billion and provide 187,000 units of affordable housing through the Low Rent Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs. She trained and led technical staff in comprehensive reviews of housing authorities, and upon completion issued reports containing recommendations and strategies to address concerns in areas of governance, finance, and program compliance. Melina assisted with the implementation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD) since its inception as a Team Leader and a Subject Matter Expert and in that capacity she reviewed RAD applications submitted by PHAs and owners from across the country to determine project acceptability and guide the RAD conversion. Melina helped develop guidance and processing procedures for PHAs and HUD staff nationwide and trained PHAs and staff.

    She served on the Sustainable Communities Task Force, which was comprised of representatives from EPA, FTA, ABAG, MTC, CalTrans, and HCD, and produced a report on federal barriers to local housing and transportation coordination. For nine years, Melina was the team lead/underwriter for the HUD San Francisco Office of Multifamily Housing Development with a portfolio that included 120+ multifamily FHA-insured or subsidized housing developments that ranged from supportive housing to market rate and affordable apartments, nursing homes, and Single Room Occupancy projects.

    Prior to joining the San Francisco Office of Public Housing, Melina was a Community Builder with the Regional HUD office and prior to that she was a Supervisory Underwriter with the San Francisco HUD/FHA Multifamily Office. In addition to her duties as an underwriter for Section 202/811, 221(d)(3), 221(d)(4), 236, 223(m), and 223(f) FHA programs, Melina also served as the Coordinator for the Mark-to-Market program and was responsible for the restructuring and refinance of FHA multifamily projects in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii. Melina started her career with HUD as an Economist.

    Diana Elrod, Principal (part-time)

    Diana ElrodDiana Elrod, Principal, is now on board at LDC and brings her expertise in community development and planning to LDC’s Berkeley office; she will work on a part-time basis.  Diana can be reached at  Diana will work four days a week.

    She has extensive experience serving as a strategic advisor to jurisdictions on Consolidated Plans, Housing Elements, and Inclusionary Housing, and has authored needs assessments, policy analyses, and legislative advocacy platforms on topics including inclusionary zoning, density bonuses, senior housing zoning overlays, and in lieu fees.  She has also ushered affordable housing projects from conception to construction.  Prior to launching her own consulting practice, Diana served as the Policy and Planning Administrator for the City of San Jose Department of Housing, Special Assistant to the Chair for New York City Department of City Planning, and Planner for the New York City Public Development Corporation. She holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Preservation from Columbia University, and earned her bachelor’s degree in American Architectural History from Oberlin College.

    Erica Snyder, Senior Associate (full-time)

    Erica Snyder, Senior Associate, brings her expertise in strategic planning, systems change, and housing and homelessness policy to the San Diego office. She starts on March 19th and can be reached at

    She previously served as the Director of Homeless Housing Innovations at the San Diego Housing Commission where she guided and oversaw the development of Housing First homeless assistance programs, including the creation of the Housing Our Heroes Initiative, which provided landlords with financial incentives and benefits for renting to 1,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness. Erica’s broad experience spans both the public and nonprofit sectors, having also worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, Duke University’s National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, United Way of San Diego County, and other nonprofits. She has often been involved at the inception of new ventures and instrumental in creating infrastructure and policy for programs impacting complex social issues, such as homelessness, human trafficking, and child trauma. Ms. Snyder holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, focusing on community, management, and policy. Erica can be reached at

    Brian Gruters, Associate (full-time)

    Brian GrutersBrian Gruters, Associate, also recently joined the LDC team with a focus on designing systems that respond to homelessness quickly and efficiently, emphasizing harm reduction and trauma‐informed care. Before joining LDC, Mr. Gruters led development of the City of San Diego’s coordinated entry system (CES) for the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless. His work there involved policy analysis, program management, and technical assistance around CES. He has also worked for Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground) and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board in New York City, where his work centered on permanent supportive housing management, development of limited‐equity housing, and community organizing. Mr. Gruters holds a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, where he studied ecology and rural anti‐poverty movements. Brian can be reached at

  9. Factory OS Tour

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    On January 30, LDC staff toured Factory OS, a new company specializing in the off-site construction of pre-fab modular homes. Co-owned by well-known developer Rick Holliday of Holliday Development, and Larry Pace of Cannon Contractors, the company aims to speed up the production and reduce the costs of building both market rate and affordable multifamily housing. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article reported that Factory OS is already slated to produce more than 1,700 total units for five projects in the cities of Oakland, Emeryville, Mountain View, and Union City. The Mountain View project developed for Google owner Alphabet Inc. will produce an estimated 300 modular apartment units for Google employees.

    Jennifer LeSar, CEO of LDC, Rick Holiday, owner of Factory OS, Ophelia Basgal, Senior Principal at LDC, and Liz Tracey Senior Principal at LDC, tour a 300 square foot unit intended for rapid rehousing. Units can be delivered finished, with appliances installed.

    Factory OS workers in Phase I of building.

    Factory OS prepped to build affordable housing units

    Jennifer LeSar with Sarah Kruer Jager of Monarch Group at Factory OS.

  10. The Future of Costa-Hawkins Repeal

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    For Rent SignThose of us deeply committed to a healthy housing market for all understand all too well how a constrained housing supply has resulted in increased rent burdens on the majority of tenants in California. Here at LDC, we are engaged in working on a variety of strategies to address both the housing crisis and address displacement of California’s low and moderate-income renters.

    Along with many housing advocate colleagues in the state, we have been following the recent proposals and discussion of one of the most controversial housing market interventions that exists – rent control.

    On January 11, efforts in the California legislature to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act failed to move forward when the California Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee voted on AB 1506 (Bloom), resulting in a 3-3 tie with one abstention. The bill would have allowed local governments to strengthen rent control ordinances.

    Enacted in 1995, Costa-Hawkins, prohibits cities and counties from strengthening existing rent control ordinances, and prohibits the application of rent control ordinances to duplexes, single family homes, and housing of any type built after 1995.

    Despite the failure of AB 1506 at the Assembly committee level, Costa-Hawkins could still be repealed if California voters pass a November 2018 ballot measure proposed by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and championed by nonprofit community organizing groups and tenant right’s advocates. If Costa-Hawkins is repealed, cities and counties would be allowed to draft rent control ordinances free from the restraints of the 1995 law.

    If your community is interested in strategies to mitigate displacement and rising rent pressures, please reach out to us at or

    Artemis Spyridonidis covers housing policy issues, including structural solutions to the housing affordability crisis, consolidated plans, housing elements, accessory dwelling unit policy implementation, and regional issues across the state of California. To learn more about LDC’s policy services, contact Artemis Spyridonidis, Senior Associate, at