Bluhon Group | Tags Land Use

Challenge Residents opposed plans for building a new transitional home for women near Downtown Novato. Area residents   Approach Sleeves-rolled-up confidential problem-solving sessions were convened to conduct deep assessment of neighbor concerns about the project. Executive staff from Gilead House worked closely with concerned residents to identify precise programming, design, and maintenance dimensions of the facility. Bluhon Group helped stakeholders break concepts into discrete categories of issues and assigned teams to develop alternatives to share with the full group. A single negotiating text guided the parties toward a consensus agreement about the redesigned project.   Results Project appellants withdrew their opposition and joined with …

Challenge Kaiser Permanente engaged NBBJ Architects of Seattle, Washington to design a new hospital and a parking garage on its 19.5 acre site at the MacArthur/Broadway intersection in Oakland, California. The City required Kaiser to complete a plan acceptable to the community and subject to Planning Commission review and approval. Kaiser retained Bluhon Group to conduct public engagement for the hospital design process and for development of new signage. Approach Bluhon Group facilitated eight community workshops over 18 months; each tightly integrated with the architectural design process. Meetings consisted of well-structured content presentations by Kaiser and NBBJ, followed by Q&A, …

Challenge Environmental activists and community members opposed plans to displace a portion of  a an oak grove at the foot of U.C. Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium for construction of a high performance athletic facility. Activists — unaffiliated with an organization — occupied several trees for over two years delaying the university’s construction start. The Office of the Vice Chancellor retained Bluhon Group to seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute. Approach Mr. Bluhon conducted a “single-text” dialogue between tree-sit representatives and a team of university team consisting of the vice chancellor, deputy police chief, head of public affairs, and a representative …

Challenge The congregation purchased an open site in a single-family neighborhood for a new place of workshop and a school. Neighbors and creek advocates opposed plans citing potential environmental impacts of congestion, parking, noise, building scale, and deterioration of riparian habitat of a perennial creek on the property. The City retained Bluhon Group to mediate the dispute. Approach Mr. Bluhon facilitated four joint sessions and thirty caucus meetings. Issues were separated and addressed sequentially. The congregation asserted that their mission of religious life combined with social functions and education could not be constrained. Appellants identified design and environmental impacts that …

Challenge The San Rafael Rock Quarry applied for a use permit from the County to increase the scale and intensity of operations. The County required the quarry to develop a management plan acceptable to the county and community and consistent with California’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act regulations. County Supervisor John Kress retained Bluhon Group to conduct a confidential mediation to achieve a community/quarry agreement. Approach Mr. Bluhon convened eleven joint sessions and several caucus sessions over four months. Parties negotiated specific terms using a “single-text” approach where they developed draft language and jointly reviewed and revised the text until …

Setting The City of Palo Alto sought to build a visitor facility on its 522-acre preserve. Acterra, a local environmental group, asked to partner with the City to develop an environmental education facility near the park entrance. Area residents opposed the plan and the City Council stipulated that broad, cross-interest support would be a condition of project approval. The City retained Bluhon Group and Arkin Tilt Architects to build community consensus around an acceptable design and program. Approach The city appointed a ten-member task force of diverse community, property owner, and environmental group representatives as a recommending body. The task force agreed to a set of consensus …

Challenge San Lorenzo Village is a 22-acre site and the only commercial and cultural hub for this unincorporated residential community.  Alameda County Planning convened a 13-member task force comprising residents, business, and the primary landowner/developer. The group was tasked with creating a sustainable, long-term redevelopment vision grounded in economic and demographic data. Approach Bluhon served as lead facilitator with design support from Field Paoli Architects, economic analysis by EDAW, and planning support from  county staff. The Task Force used a consensus-based method according to a set of ground rules to guide dialogue, fact-finding, and decision-making. Through 10 plenary meetings, the …