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San Francisco Submits Plans for a Public Bank to Fund Sustainable and Equitable Economic Recovery



This press release was originally issued by Supervisor Dean Preston.


San Francisco, CA — As the city and the country grapple with the ongoing instability and collapse of the banking industry, the San Francisco Reinvestment Working Group advances a plan to create a municipality-owned bank. The Public Bank proposal offers a game-changing tool as the city navigates ongoing concerns with the post-pandemic economic recovery.


The plans focus on the next steps and investments that the city can take to create a public bank, including financing for affordable housing, small businesses, and green investments. The
RWG’s approval includes a business and governance plan for creating a publicly owned municipal financial corporation (MFC) and for converting the MFC into a full San Francisco public bank.


“As we continue to chart a path to economic recovery and a sustainable economy, the Working Group’s business and governance plans provide the road map for our city to create the first municipal public bank in the nation, a crucial strategy to ensure that our city funds are used to reverse inequities, not perpetuate them,” said Supervisor Dean Preston. “The final plans submitted by the RWG is a huge step forward in turning the public bank concept into a reality.”


Traditional private banking has failed to offer sufficient access to financial services for residents and small businesses, especially in communities of color. The consequences of that lack of
access include inequitable economic, employment, health, affordable housing, and environmental outcomes that continue to this day.


“If the plan is adopted, San Francisco will be creating the first municipal public bank in California, which will provide a relatively speedy return on investment and serve as a model for other cities. With a $40 million investment spread out over the corporation’s first three years, we can create the infrastructure to benefit San Franciscans and achieve moderate profits that can be reinvested throughout the city,” said Andrea Batista Schlesinger, a Managing Partner at HR&A Advisors. “This plan could help San Francisco achieve significant benefits for people and the planet through a new, financially sustainable model.”


The business and governance plans were a year in the making. The Working Group worked closely with HR&A Advisors, leaders in inclusive economic development, who have produced similar public bank studies in Seattle and Philadelphia and led the analysis for the California Public Banking Option Act; Gary Steven Findley and Associates, experts in establishing de novo banks and providing guidance on management, operations, and compliance in California; and Contigo Communications, San Francisco-based practitioners who co-construct solutions that reflect the needs of community members.


“The reinvestment working group has done excellent work; throughout this process, they’ve delved into the existing gaps for small businesses, affordable housing, and green energy, especially post-pandemic. Our city urgently needs a public bank for economic recovery, and the plan provides officials with a no-brainer blueprint,” said Jackie Fielder, co-founder of the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition.


The plans will be presented to the Board of Supervisors at a hearing in July, after which the Board will take action to formalize and implement the process of starting an MFC and public bank in San Francisco.


For more information on the Reinvestment Working Group, visit


Additional Press Coverage

SF Takes Big Step Toward a City-Owned Bank as Local Lenders Falter,” The Frisc (May 2023)



Photo: Shen Pan via Unsplash

Los Angeles Business Council acknowledges HR&A Advisors Partner Paul Silvern


The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) acknowledged HR&A Advisors Partner Paul Silvern for his contributions and support of the LABC Institute’s newest  study Tackling the Housing Crisis: Streamlining to Increase Production in Los Angeles” which was conducted by Dr. Stuart Gabriel of UCLA and Dr. Edward Kung of Cal State Northridge.  


During a period of 13 years, market rate and affordable housing developers faced entitlement and permit approval timing challenges. The report examines how the construction of new housing could have been completed much faster and the number of new units could have been increased significantly if certain streamlining recommendations had been implemented.


During the report’s launching event LABC Council President Krekorian stated we have his “assurance that every one of the policy recommendations that are in this report will be advanced in this council, will be analyzed, will be moved forward into the legislative process and I’m looking forward to working closely with you in pursuing each and every one of those recommendations.” 



HR&A Leaders Discuss Drivers of Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing in Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) Webinar


HR&A Advisors Partner Jon Meyers, Principal Callahan Seltzer, and Director Hannah Glosser participated in a recent webinar hosted by the Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) discussing Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing. Energy efficiency is vital in affordable housing due to its potential to lower utility bills and maintain affordability for residents. The webinar covered energy costs, drivers of energy efficiency upgrades, and offered suggestions for overcoming challenges — helping attendees make a compelling business case to affordable housing owners and developers. 


This event was a part of a series of training webinars hosted by Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) for potential applicants to the Department of Energy’s Building Upgrades Prize (Buildings UP). The program is awarding over $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams with winning ideas to accelerate equitable energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades in residential and commercial buildings.  


Watch the webinar and learn more!

HR&A at ULI Spring 2023 Toronto


HR&A is excited to engage with fellow urbanists and changemakers at the ULI Spring 2023 meeting to explore emerging infrastructure, technology, housing, public/private partnerships, and mixed-use development that’s shaping the industry. Below is a recap of where you can find us at this year’s event: 


Speaking events 


May 15, 9:15 – 10:00 am (GMT) | HR&A Advisors President Jeff Herbert will be the keynote speaker at the Resilience Summit alongside Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President of Program Strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation. 


Event time: May 15, 9:15 – 10:00 am (GMT) 


Register now to join us!  




Connect with all of our HR&A attendees at the Spring Summit: 

Jeff Hebert — President, New York 

Eric Rothman — CEO, New York, Public/Private Partnership Council (Gold Flight) 

Mason Ailstock — Partner, Atlanta, University Development and Innovation Council 

Amitabh Barthakur, AICP — Partner, Los Angeles, Public/Private Partnership Council (Blue Flight) 

Candace Damon — Board Chair, New York 

Marilynn Davis — Senior Advisor, Atlanta, University Development and Innovation Council 

Stan Wall — Partner, Washington DC, Transit Oriented Development Council 

Ada Peng — Director, Los Angeles 

Martha Welborne — Senior Advisor, Los Angeles, Placemaking Council 

Partner Judith Taylor and HR&A Los Angeles Managing Partner Andrea Batista Schlesinger discuss their impactful work in LA


We sat down with Partner Judith Taylor and HR&A Los Angeles Managing Partner Andrea Batista Schlesinger to discuss their impactful work in L.A. and the opportunity they see in the region for new, innovative approaches to the complex, interconnected challenges facing our cities.  


What does it mean to design and execute more equitable neighborhoods and cities? And can you give some examples of the work that you are doing in LA?  


Judith: To me, designing and executing more equitable neighborhoods and cities means ensuring that folks who live in these places really have a voice in shaping how their neighborhoods and communities evolve. All too often, it feels like development happens to a community as opposed to a community developing their neighborhood and shaping what they want to see.  


For example, early in my career, I worked on a project with Metro supporting the development of design guidelines for transit-oriented development along the  the Crenshaw/LAX line (which is now the K line). Metro owns property along this, and many of its lines, and we spent about a year going to a number of different meetings within the community to help them think through the opportunity and potential of this public investment. That should be the case for every development project. This was back in 2016 and 2017, and I’ve been working since then to shape and refine the tools that we use to give people what they need to really shape their communities and do that shaping for themselves. I’ve spent much of my career really focused on this work. 


Andrea: A lot of our work focuses on the acknowledgment that traditional approaches to economic development, policy, and planning have created reinforced racial divides in cities across the United States, and few places more clearly than LA.  


When our firm was founded 40 years ago in LA, there was a prevailing notion that any economic development was good economic development because the country had given up on cities as a result of a very politically driven narrative at that time. But as we now know, those approaches — which were a result of collaboration between public actors and private actors — often resulted in inequitable outcomes that actively harmed underserved communities of color. Those systems colluded to make sure that our cities were planned, experienced, lived, and developed in ways that reflect a deep and structural racism.  


Today, what we’re trying to do is reverse the way these systems have been deployed, so that we measure our success, as Judy said, by the degree to which people are benefiting that have been intentionally excluded. For example, when we work to create a public bank that would allow cities to have another financing mechanisms to do what private banks won’t (invest in black and brown communities) that is an equitable approach to economic development.  


Since you both work in cities across the country, what do you think are some of the unique challenges facing LA compared to other US cities?   


Andrea:  I cannot think of a more interesting place to work right now. There’s a really exciting mixture of things impacting our work here. You have: 

    • A political re-alignment with a Black woman mayor, a progressive city council, and a changed LA County Board of Supervisors; 
    • A robust organizing network with philanthropic entities that are committed to the civic life of the city; 
    • An Olympic game coming, which will be transformative;  
    • A number of other transformative land use projects from airports to rivers to train stations at stake; and 
    • A fascinating set of state policies that could enable local action on things from addressing homelessness to divesting from police. 

    The list goes on… but the question, of course, is how will LA respond to this moment?  This is a very interesting and fertile moment for anybody that cares about the intersecting issues of policy, economic development, and planning. LA has all the ingredients for something important and significant to happen. 

  • And at HR&A, the people who work in our LA office are people who want to help make significant change happen. They are people who want to take the promise of policy and politics and actually translate it into changed lives and communities.  LA is a lab right now where we can create new approaches that will set the tone for other cities.   


  • Judith: Andrea, I really think you hit the nail on the head. I always tell people that of all places across this country, there’s just so much opportunity in LA. The only other thing I would add is the changing economy and move towards resilience and the green economy. California has a lot of amazing legislation that’s going to stop the use of fossil fuels and cars within the next decade. And Los Angeles has a real opportunity to be an anchor of that as well.   What are you most excited about in the Inclusive Cities practice in LA?   

    Judith: I’m working with LA County to help them understand if a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) could be potentially deployed in unincorporated areas in the county. This policy would give tenants the first right of refusal on properties where they’re renting before the properties are sold. It would be a game changing policy for Southern California.  


    There’s a major crisis in Southern California around affordable housing that is impacting very low-income folks, but also for moderate and middle-income folks. This challenge has really impacted communities of color particularly, where home prices are making it extremely challenging for families to be able to stay in LA. 


    This policy could really give folks a fighting chance to have better opportunities to purchase the homes they are living in and stay within their communities. This ties back to what we were talking about earlier, because ensuring folks have housing in their neighborhoods is the first step in their ability to shape how their communities develop for generations.  


    Andrea: The work we are doing in LA for our Inclusive Cities practice is incredibly exciting, and we are growing! We are a group of entrepreneurial people that weren’t born consultants — we come from a wide range of backgrounds and that diversity of experience and perspectives enriches our work and sets us apart. We bring this wide range of approaches, methodologies, passions, and we have found a way to put them to use in the service of making just and equitable cities. 


Interested in learning more? Check out our Inclusive Cities Practice and Careers pages.

Partner Kate Wittels joins Crain’s New York Business to talk urban tech


Crain’s New York Business invited Partner Kate Wittels to discuss urban tech, including how technology innovation can provide economic opportunity to New York. She shares how investing in the Brooklyn tech ecosystem paid off, the hidden opportunity in the tech hiring slow down, and how we must “let tech breathe” to see how it’s adapted before we draw conclusions about it too quickly. 



Kate’s work specializes in the intersection of technology and city building. Her past projects have included assessing the economic and social impacts of coworking for WeWork’s global membership, developing landmark methodologies for how to size the tech ecosystem and its impact on people and cities, and leading the Rice Management Company in the planning, design, construction, and implementation of a new innovation district in Midtown Houston, anchored by the 300,000 square-foot Ion Innovation hub. 



You can read the full piece here. 



Photo: Crain’s New York Business | Photographer: Buck Ennis 

HR&A Advisors congratulates Principal Jane Carlson on her appointment to the Griffith Park Board


HR&A Advisors congratulates Principal Jane Carlson on her appointment to the Griffith Park Board! Jane will apply her deep understanding of municipal finance and economic development strategies to support the Board’s mission to enhance the quality of life in Los Angeles by providing attractive, safe, and well-maintained parks with diverse opportunities to serve and enrich every community. 


She hopes her impact can further establish an accessible, dynamic, and sustainable park system for all Angelenos and visitors to play, learn, connect with the natural world, and build community.


To read more about the Griffith Park Board follow this link. 

Partner Shuprotim Bhaumik and Director Jamison Dague take a deeper dive into Long Island’s Blue Economy


Newsday Media Group’s nextLI engaged HR&A Advisors to create an in-depth analysis of the region’s long-term economic outlook through a scenario that envisions an emergent ocean-based economy. HR&A Partner Shuprotim Bhaumik and Director Jamison Dague launched their report “Long Island’s Emergent Blue Economy”, at a panel discussion. The report examined how a Blue Economy ecosystem can benefit many industries and enhance the prosperity of Long Island in the coming decades.  


The report outlines how leveraging Long Island’s Blue Economy and investing in this economic sector and evolving existing policies could add more than 60,000 jobs by 2051 and approximately 35% of jobs in the sector paid between $90,300 and $105,700 per year, on average, in 2021. 


“We see an opportunity for Long Island to create a lot of good-paying jobs, to address the existential threat of climate change by cleaning up our waterways and increasing economic output and tax revenue.”, said Shuprotim Bhaumik in his interview with James Madore. In addition to reviewing Long Island’s economic growth, HR&A examined regional economies centered around water activity, forecasting employment for key industries, and interviewing stakeholders to determine interventions and quantify their economic and fiscal effects.  


Read the full report and learn more about the findings and recommendations at NewsDay’s website.  

Partner Shuprotim Bhaumik and Principal Ignacio Montojo at the IDB Mayors Forum 2023: Financing Cities in LAC


HR&A Advisors Partner Shuprotim Bhaumik was invited to speak on a panel hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank at the “Mayor’s Forum 2023: Financing Cities in LAC”, a supporting event of the Cities Summit of the Americas held in Denver this week. The forum provided a platform for city leaders to investigate novel financing possibilities for cities in Latin America and the Caribbean..  


Alongside 40 mayors of cities in the region, as well as local and international experts, both Partner Shuprotim Bhaumik and Principal Ignacio Montojo delved into topics such as vision, planning and strategic financing, strategies for accessing the credit market, infrastructure financing and fiscal sustainability, and capacity building to generate attractive project portfolios that encourage private investment. 


To view the event and Shuprotim’s presentation [starting at 5:28:00] on the infrastructure financing strategy for the redevelopment of the West Side of Manhattan and Hudson Yards use this link. 


You can access the press release and  learn more about the forum on IDB’s website. 



Empire State Development Releases Report Outlining First Year Accomplishments of the Office of Strategic Workforce Development


Last Year, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an historic investment of $350 million for workforce development and the creation of the Office of Strategic Workforce Development (OSWD) within New York State’s economic development agency, Empire State Development (ESD). This investment represented a decisive shift toward a state workforce development strategy that is laser-focused on connecting New Yorkers to quality, in-demand jobs in the state’s fastest-growing industries. Empire State Development (ESD) contracted HR&A, in partnership with Jobs for the Future (JFF), to support the development of a comprehensive statewide strategy for the newly established Office of Strategic Workforce Development (OSWD).   


HR&A and JFF worked with ESD leadership to establish priorities and build consensus with a multitude of internal and external stakeholders, analyze statewide economic and employment trends and existing workforce strategies; develop prioritized strategies and best practices; and establish clear metrics for success that can both guide prospective grantees in their programming and provide a platform for OSWD to ensure the state’s workforce development ecosystem has maximum impact.  


To guide its investment, OSWD  identified 7 statewide high-growth target industries representing New York’s most critical growth sectors and additional regional priority sectors. 


    1. Advanced Manufacturing and Materials: R&D-driven manufacturing such as the production of electrical equipment, computers, and machinery as well as processing of glass, metals, chemicals, and minerals.  
    2.  Biotech and Life Sciences: Industries that research, develop, and manufacture health care products and equipment and pharmaceuticals.  
    3.  Cleantech and Renewable Energy: Industries that generate, transmit, and store clean energy; manufacture the key components for clean energy generation; and retrofit buildings and infrastructure to incorporate modern technology.  
    4. Construction: Industries related to the construction of buildings, civil engineering, and specialty trades. 
    5. Electronics and Optics, Photonics, and Imaging (OPI): Computer, electronics, and chemical manufacturing industries (including semiconductor manufacturing) as well as related professional services.  
    6. Film and TV Production and Post-Production: Motion picture, television, sound recording, and other industries involved in video and audio production and post-production.  
    7. Software and Digital Media: Software development, data processing, information services, and telecommunication (including broadband) industries. 


ESD’s Office of Strategic Workforce Development released their annual report highlighting the significant strides made towards creating a more robust and inclusive workforce in New York State. Over the past six months, OSWD published three grant programs and has disbursed $13 million dollars in funding across New York to 22 innovative training programs in the first two rounds of its grantmaking process. These resources will help train more than 6,600 New Yorkers for more than 200 businesses and industry partners. 


See ESD’s press release announcing the report here. You can read the full report and learn more about the findings and recommendations here.