July 3, 2024
EPS expertise helps Dublin update their Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance and Commercial Linkage Fees
Rosanna Ren

In 2002, the City of Dublin adopted inclusionary zoning requirements to ensure affordable housing would be built in the city as development expanded. Over time, rising home prices and construction costs created feasibility challenges and moved in-lieu fees out of sync with inclusionary requirements. To address this, the City hired EPS to conduct a feasibility study and recommend updates, including adjustments to in-lieu fees, and a nexus study to update commercial linkage fees for non-residential development.

EPS modeled prototypes of recent Dublin developments to test various inclusionary requirements and in-lieu fees. Interviews with housing staff in other Tri-Valley jurisdictions helped establish appropriate recommendations. The study revealed significant differences in feasibility between single-family and multifamily developments, with the former able to absorb more inclusionary subsidies due to higher demand and profit margins. The findings and recommended changes, of reducing the inclusionary percentage to 10% for multifamily developments and increasing it to 15% for single-family developments combined with a 60% must-build requirement, allow for the construction of inclusionary units without compromising feasibility. The ordinance also lowered the minimum project threshold to 10 units, established a 55-year deed restriction on affordable units, and stipulated that in-lieu fees be charged on a per-market-rate square foot basis.

For commercial linkage fees, EPS modeled maximum nexus-based fees for various land use categories and compared them with peer jurisdictions. The City maintained current fee levels for most categories, combining Office and R&D into a single fee. The Dublin City Council adopted the updated requirements and fees in June 2024, ensuring the inclusionary zoning and commercial linkage fee programs remain viable and effective.

June 12, 2024
EPS Helps Kick-off Riverside General Plan Update
Julie Cooper

EPS joined over 30 City staff and a multi-disciplinary consultant team lead by WSP to kick off Riverside’s 2045 General Plan Update on June 12th. According to the City’s Project Manager Matthew Taylor, the update will result in a “blueprint for the long-term future of physical growth and development of the City” and will serve as the “basis for land-use decision-making used by policy makers” over the next two decades.

EPS’s role will include an overview of existing economic and market conditions, analysis of the fiscal impacts of the General Plan’s land use plan, and the development of a new Economic Development and Innovation Element. EPS staff looks forward to supporting the City of Riverside, the 12th largest municipality in California and a long-time client, as part of the WSP team working to advance this important effort.

June 11, 2024
Tahoe Donner Association Adopts EPS’s Workforce Housing Study
Rosanna Ren

EPS completed a study for the Tahoe Donner Association (TDA) that addresses the rising issue of workforce housing for its employees. The TDA Board of Directors adopted the study in May 2024 and directed staff to incorporate its findings and selected strategies into its upcoming work plans. TDA is a homeowners’ association and resort community in Truckee, California. In high-costand low-supply mountain resort communities, the lack of access to affordable housing is affecting the ability of major employers like TDA to attract and retain employees.

TDA sought EPS’ expertise in housing needs assessments and economic development to research the scale of housing need among its workers. The project involved an employee survey and interviews with management staff, other major employers, and housing organizations in the region to understand the range of needs, preferences, and potential solutions.

The variety of housing needs among the Association’s year-round, seasonal, and student employees meant that workforce housing solutions would have to cover an equally diverse range of housing types. This research led the EPS team to develop a set of 14 recommendations that address housing needs and preferences as well as the opportunities and advantages for TDA. The recommendations range broadly from new construction, acquisition of existing housing, financial support programs, and homeowner education. Throughout the study, EPS collaborated with TDA staff to determine the priority, relative financial and operating risk, and timeline of each recommended action. With this study, TDA is equipped with the knowledge of how the recommended solutions benefit the organization and its employees, and able to take advantage ofresources, partnerships, and financing as these opportunities emerge.

June 3, 2024
EPS helps bring about significant land use and zoning amendments in Eagle, Colorado
Sarah Dunmire

In 2021, the Town of Eagle, Colorado, with a population of about 7,500, began updating its land use code for the first time since the 1970s to address rising housing prices. Eagle staff saw an opportunity to address affordable housing by leveraging state funds available to municipalities to complete a housing needs assessment and adopt new land use strategies. EPS, in collaboration with Clarion Associates, Town staff, an engaged Town Council, active resident participation, and state funding, brought about significant land use and zoning amendments.

EPS completed a Comprehensive Affordable Housing Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Town that includes an analysis of existing housing supply and pent-up demand, and the imbalance of the two. It examines where the most significant affordability gaps are within the inventory and identifies housing targets related to the “catch up” (existing need) and “keep up” (future need) by area median income (AMI) level. The housing strategy is a collection of 14 recommendations derived from workshops with staff and Town Council. Based on EPS’s recommendations, major zoning code changes were approved to increase the supply of affordable housing. These changes, known as ReCode Eagle, include allowing housing on civic sites, increasing affordable housing deed restriction requirements, creating a land donation program, establishing density bonuses, and permitting accessory dwelling units. Additionally, Eagle secured significant funding for affordable housing projects, including modular homes by Habitat for Humanity. These efforts place Eagle at the forefront of progressive housing solutions in Colorado. Read more about it here.

April 23, 2024
San Joaquin Board of Supervisors Greenlights EPS's Mountain House’s Jobs/ Housing Policy Recommendation
Jenny Lin

Mountain House, located in unincorporated San Joaquin County, is a planned community formed in 1994. Over the past 30 years, the Community has grown to a population of nearly 25,000 residents with 6,000 households and over 800 local jobs.  In the March 2024 Primary Election, over 90 percent of voters approved the incorporation of the Community, paving the way for it to become the first city in California in over a decade.

In the early years of visioning, planning, and establishment of the Mountain House Community, EPS served as the key economic advisor to the County. EPS played an important role in the development of Mountain House's Specific Plans and associated infrastructure financing strategies, including the impact fee structure, bond financing, and special taxes.

In 2023, the County re-engaged EPS to assess the implications of the Community's longstanding jobs-housing policy, which required a nearly 1-to-1 ratio of jobs to housing established in the initial Mountain House General Plan. Prompted by a desire to have a “numerical balance within the community between jobs and housing over time,” the original Master Plan created a Jobs-Housing Program (Program) which set a jobs-to-housing ratio (JHR) goal of 0.99. Land was therefore set aside for non-residential uses and the development of jobs accommodating real estate development.

Upon reviewing previous studies, conducting a thorough assessment of the market potential for job-generating land uses, and considering both work-from-home and online shopping trends, EPS determined that the current “traditional” 0.99 jobs-housing ratio was likely unachievable. Instead, EPS recommended adjusting the ratio to 0.76 which included two components: on-site workers and work-from-home workers. The Board of Supervisors approved EPS's recommendation in March 2024, signaling a shift in land use policies. This revised ratio will be adopted into the next General Plan update, reflecting the evolving community as it progresses towards incorporation as a City later this year.  

April 19, 2024
EPS Presents Novel Fiscal Analysis Tool at 2024 National Planning Conference
Luke Foelsch

EPS Vice President Luke Foelsch presented a case study of an interactive, citywide, spatially-based fiscal impact analysis modeling tool at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in April 2024.

The case study described how the tool, which integrates EPS’ fiscal impact analysis methodology into an interactive, 3D, web-based mapping software platform, was built for the City of Fresno to allow City staff to evaluate the fiscal implications of specific projects, area plans, or zoning categories (e.g., residential, commercial, office, etc.), differentiated by location in the city. Presenting along with an Esri subconsultant and a key City staff stakeholder, Mr. Foelsch explained the underlying logic and framework of the tool and gave examples of findings to help inform policymakers in the City of Fresno. Armed with the ability for City staff to run fiscal impact modeling in-house, Fresno is better able to understand the fiscal implications of various land use policies.

A recording of the session can be viewed by subscribers to American Planning Association’s online learning subscription service “Passport,” and the presentation slides can be viewed here.

February 12, 2024
EPS Promotes Julie Cooper to Principal

Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS) is pleased to announce the promotion of Julie Cooper to Principal. Julie has served as a leader of EPS's Los Angeles office for the past six years and brings a wealth of experience related to real estate economics, municipal finance, strategic economic development, and public policy. Since joining EPS in 2018, Julie has managed a variety of land use projects throughout Southern California, forging strong relationships with public and private clients through clear, objective analyses to inform decision-making.

Recent notable projects include work on two subregional studies evaluating the opportunities for inclusionary housing programs for members of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments and San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments in Los Angeles County, in support of their Housing Element implementation efforts. Julie has also been a leader in EPS's work on Vehicle Mile Traveled (VMT) mitigation strategies, including work on VMT mitigation fees, banks, and exchanges. She has additionally managed EPS's work on numerous General Plans and Specific Plans across Southern California, including recent and on-going projects in the cities of Lawndale, San Jacinto, Fullerton, San Marcos, Lake Forest, Lomita, Pico Rivera, and Paramount.

Julie is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Planning Association (APA), Urban Land Institute (ULI), and Lambda Alpha International (LAI). She received her Master's in Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School, where she also completed the School's Certificate in Municipal Finance program. Prior to joining EPS, Julie was an Associate at Development Strategies, a St. Louis-based real estate and economic development consulting firm.

As a Principal, Julie will continue to provide exemplary technical and advisory services while advancing the firm’s successful operations and empowering staff to elevate their consulting practice.

January 11, 2024
Tustin City Council Unanimously Approves EPS Policy Recommendations to Support In-Fill Development
Thomas Gonzales

In December 2023, Tustin City Council voted to support a set of EPS policy recommendations that could further redevelopment within two Specific Plan areas, one in the historic Downtown Commercial Core and the other along the Red Hill Avenue corridor. The unanimous vote directs City staff and Council to implement specific development policy changes over the next several years, including revisions to residential parking standards, reducing and standardizing fees, as well as streamlining the approval of residential projects.

EPS work on the Specific Plan reassessment studies began in August 2022 and included stakeholder engagement, extensive market analysis, policy review, and a detailed financial feasibility analysis looking at specific opportunity sites within the two Plan Areas. The EPS analysis identified the types of projects most likely to be successful and the existing planning and policy requirements that were deterring investment. EPS then worked with City Staff to align its recommendations with City initiatives and programs already underway or being implemented, including the City’s Housing Element, Objective Design Standards, and other efforts.

The project grew out of City Council request for the Community Development department to revisit the Downtown Commercial Core and Red Hill Avenue Specific Plans, initially approved in 2018, in order to generate more redevelopment interest and investment—including accommodation of needed housing growth—within these critical change areas. EPS was selected for the project based on several decades of experience with main street, downtown and corridor revitalization projects across California. A link to the EPS Council presentation can be found here.

July 11, 2023
EPS Principals Participate in ULI Advisory Services Panel to Assist in Post-Fire Recovery Efforts
Amy Lapin

In March 2023, EPS Principals Dan Guimond and Amy Lapin participated in an intensive Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Services Panel (ASP) to help the Colorado communities of Louisville and Superior with recovery efforts following the 2021 Marshall Fire. The Marshall Fire burned over 6,000 acres of foothills open space, and with 110 mile an hour winds, encroached into the built environment of both cities, ultimately destroying more than 1,100 homes and commercial buildings. The panel convened to tour the burn areas in the communities, hear from community staff, leadership, affected residents, and other stakeholders, and developed a set of recommendations to address community resilience, incorporate Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) principles into zoning code and design guidelines, and meet the ongoing housing needs of both communities. Dan and Amy’s expertise in the local housing dynamics and recovery efforts following the 2018 Camp Fire (in Paradise and surrounding communities in California) were instrumental in providing housing diversity and affordability recommendations. A link to the final report can be found here.

May 31, 2023
Westminster Mall Specific Plan wins APA award
Jason Moody

After playing a key role in a multi-year planning effort, EPS is report that the Westminster Mall Specific Plan, (details found here) was selected for the 2023 APA Orange Section “Economic Planning & Development Award of Excellence”. The APA Orange Section commemorates exceptional planning work carried out in Orange County each year. Working closely with City staff and a multidisciplinary consulting team, EPS was instrumental in drafting key Plan elements, including an innovative Retail Preservation Policy as well as a Multi-Owner Reimbursement funding plan. All five property owners of the Mall (who have all voiced support for the Plan) were closely coordinated during the study process, which involved considerable stakeholder outreach.


May 23, 2023
EPS study wins Governor’s Award for best plan for Englewood Economic Development Strategic Plan
Lisa Marie Eytcheson

“Since 2003, the Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence have recognized outstanding projects and people in Colorado that demonstrate creativity in the face of challenges, unlikely and enduring partnerships, and dedication to the community to further downtown initiatives.”

In formulating the City of Englewood’s economic development strategy, EPS evaluated the City’s current economic development programs, economic and demographic conditions and trends, locational strengths and weaknesses, and key metrics of comparison to surrounding cities and other peer communities in the region. Plan recommendations included continuance of nurturing and growing small businesses; identified key redevelopment projects as a priority for improving the quality of the built environment in the city; and guidance for the division of responsibilities between the City’s Economic Development Office, its core economic partners – including a newly formed Downtown BID, and other regional organizations. The Plan’s implementation strategy identified more immediate and longer-term actions based on a consensus of priorities as well as financial and organizational capacities.

City of Englewood news

[1] downtowncoloradoinc.org/governorsawards

February 3, 2023
City of Lancaster Adopts VMT Mitigation Fee Based on EPS Study
Julie Cooper

Lancaster’s City Council adopted a vehicle-miles-traveled mitigation (VMT) based Impact fee on January 24 that is novel among cities in Los Angeles County. EPS worked with a larger Consultant Team, which included Michael Baker International and Fehr & Peers, to identify the best approach to developing the fee.

The fee applies to new development projects that are subject to a VMT analysis under new CEQA guidelines implemented by State Bill 743. Projects that are found to have significant VMT impacts under this analysis can utilize the fee to mitigate their impacts, in addition to undertaking any on-site mitigation actions. Fee revenues will go towards City improvements that will encourage alternative modes of transportation, such as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

EPS assisted in calculating the maximum fee level and was responsible for drafting the nexus study required for adoption of the fee. This effort is part of the EPS’s broader work across the State assisting cities, counties, and regional agencies to address new and evolving VMT mitigation goals and requirements.

January 31, 2023
EPS helps envision Hensley Field Master Plan
Lisa Marie Eytcheson

EPS worked on an ambitious plan as an economic consultant on a multidisciplinary team, for the City of Dallas redevelopment plan and implementation strategy for Hensley Field, a former 738-acre US Naval Air Station located on Mountain Creek Lake in southwest Dallas.

Based on several recent planning initiatives, the new plan sought to redevelop Hensley Field as a diverse, mixed use, and walkable community. The project’s mission is to “leverage the value of this City-owned asset to create an implementable plan that achieves community objectives related to economic recovery, social equity, and environmental sustainability.”

EPS completed market analysis to identify the site’s potential for a full range of land uses as well as prepared an affordable housing plan and strategy for the project. EPS was also responsible for a financial strategy and governance structure to implement the plan.

January 9, 2023
CALED Publishes Article by EPS Staff On California Housing Initiatives
Jason Moody

The California Academy for Economic Development (CALED) featured an article co-written by EPS staff Jason Moody and Luke Foelsch on how new State housing initiatives that may transform development patterns along commercial arterials. The article focuses on the recent approval of Assembly Bill 2011, dubbed the “Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act of 2022”, and discusses more aggressive housing targets and enforcement protocol from the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).  The full article can be found here.

December 9, 2022
Contra Costa County LAFCO Approves EPS-Authored Municipal Services Review
Ashleigh Kanat

On November 9, 2022, the Contra Costa County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approved the 2nd Round Municipal Services Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) update for the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District (RCD) and the Mosquito & Vector Control District (MVCD). MSRs provide a tool for LAFCOs to evaluate the adequacy of public services and providers, and to improve the organization and provision of services. MSRs support LAFCOs’ mission to plan and shape “the logical and orderly development and coordination of local governmental agencies.”

The EPS team, Principal Ashleigh Kanat and Senior Associate Luke Foelsch, authored the report, which evaluates the adequacy of facilities and services, financial status, management and accountability, and makes the requisite MSR determinations for each District. The report highlights how the Contra Costa RCD and MVCD have both increased service offerings, grown operations, and professionalized management since the prior MSR was conducted. The MSR was well-received by LAFCO Commissioners and can be viewed here.

December 12, 2022
EPS Services Help Win Approval of Westminster Mall Specific Plan
Jason Moody

The Westminster City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved Specific Plan and environmental impact report and general plan amendment to redevelop an enclosed 1.2 million square foot shopping mall adjacent to the San Diego (405) Freeway. EPS played a key role in completing the necessary planning documents, working closely with City staff and a multidisciplinary consulting team, including preparing an innovative Retail Preservation Policy with goals and requirements for ensuring a critical mass of commercial uses remain on the site. The study process included extensive stakeholder outreach include close coordination with the Mall’s five property owners (all of whom expressed support for the Plan).

See Plan westminster-ca.gov: Mall Specific Plan

November 15, 2022
San Bruno Adopts Bayhill Area Development Impact Fee Based On EPS Nexus Study
Jason Moody

The San Bruno City Council unanimously approved a Bayhill Area Development Impact Fee on November 8th, 2022 a financing tool that will help pay for new infrastructure needed to support buildout of the business park and the expansion of Youtube’s headquarters. The fee program is based on a Nexus Study authored by EPS and covers over $13 million in transportation and water delivery infrastructure.  The fee will apply to new office, retail, hotel and residential development.

November 28, 2022
EPS Presents Post-Pandemic Prospects For Bay Area Downtowns
Jason Moody

EPS Managing Principal Jason Moody presented on the post-pandemic prospects for Bay Area downtowns at the Bay Area Planning Directors fall meeting in November 2022. Mr. Moody’s presentation described how the pandemic has disproportionately affected commercial activity in downtowns, including retail/dining spaces, offices, hospitality, and entertainment sectors. The presentation chronicled how key downtown market segments, residents, workers, and visitors have changed since the pandemic. After presenting the statistics about the demographic changes, travel patterns, shopping trends, and work style changes, Mr. Moody concluded that with the right measures, post-pandemic adaptation and reemergence is possible, and will help downtowns continue to cater to the innate desire for experience, socialization, and authenticity.

Mr. Moody’s Presentation Can Be Found Here.

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May 31, 2023

Westminster Mall Specific Plan wins APA award

Jason Moody

After playing a key role in a multi-year planning effort, EPS is report that the Westminster Mall Specific Plan, (details found here) was selected for the 2023 APA Orange Section “Economic Planning & Development Award of Excellence”. The APA Orange Section commemorates exceptional planning work carried out in Orange County each year. Working closely with City staff and a multidisciplinary consulting team, EPS was instrumental in drafting key Plan elements, including an innovative Retail Preservation Policy as well as a Multi-Owner Reimbursement funding plan. All five property owners of the Mall (who have all voiced support for the Plan) were closely coordinated during the study process, which involved considerable stakeholder outreach.