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News and Views: The CREW SF Blog

Feb 06, 2018
Rising From the Ashes: Disaster Recovery


On January 23, members and guests of CREW SF gathered for a presentation on disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience featuring architect and lawyer Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq. of Legal Constructs, and David Witkowski, Executive Director of Joint Venture Silicon Valley's Wireless Communications Initiative (WCI), with a guest appearance by Haywired Scenario co-author Anne Wein of the US Geological Survey. Armed with an informative set of slides, Donoho, Witkowski and Wein shared their data and analysis of disaster recovery following the 2017 Sonoma County wildfires and from a potential earthquake on the Hayward Fault.


Wildfire Response, Recovery & Resilience


At the start of her presentation, Donoho confirmed a heartbreaking statistic: Over 6,000 structures were destroyed in the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County. The fires destroyed communities and neighborhoods, and now residents are tasked with rebuilding. Donoho explained that the recovery process is broken down into three stages: response (a few days), recovery (a few months) and rebuilding (a few years).


For homeowners seeking to rebuild, insurance coverage remains an obstacle. Insurers will only pay to rebuild the home in its exact condition which is on the owner to have documented. With modifications to get up to the current building code, such as sprinkler and energy-efficiency requirements, insurance providers do not cover upgrades to the homes even if they are in lieu of a smaller overall home. In addition, most homeowners have only ever purchased a home and do not have experience with re-building from the ground up. Homeowners must piece together the blueprints – which may have burned in the fire –or for older homes do not exist. The takeaway is to annually review your home and earthquake insurance policies so that your settlement will cover the cost of rebuilding, replacing your belongings and living in temporary housing. Many people are insured to the amount of their mortgage and not to cover re-building costs in the competitive re-building environment of a large-scale disaster. If the worst occurs, negotiate with your insurer. You can likely get more than their first offer for your belongings and home. Have a copy of a video on the interior of your home saved off-site or online including any items that would be difficult to replace.


The HayWired Scenario


Witkowski started the Haywired presentation with a frightening note: There is a 33% chance of a 6.7-magnitude or greater earthquake on the Hayward Fault by the year 2043. Since the fault line runs through a densely populated area in the East Bay, a large quake on the fault could cause significant damage – and displace a great number of residents.


Witkowski shared tips and best practices for managing your digital life during the immediate aftermath of a disaster.


·       Let others know you are OK, but don’t overload the cellular networks (first responders use the same network):

o   Set your voicemail to say “I’m OK”

o   Post to social media (or ask someone to do it for you)

o   Text, don’t talk

o   Avoid streaming

o   Avoid posting video/images


·       When seeking info:

1.     Use broadcast radio/TV first

2.     Then, wired internet

3.     Then, cellular internet


·       Have backup power:

o   Batteries and solar

o   In-car charging cables for cellphones


·       Avoid using open/public wifi as many natural disaster victims become identity theft victims

o   Have a plan for finding hard-wired internet especially for making payments or sending sensitive information.


To ensure you are prepared in the event of a disaster, Witkowski concluded the presentation with a recommendation of shutting off your home or office’s main breaker for 24 hours and taking notes. You will learn quickly what you need to be prepared when the power goes out.


We hope the information gleaned from this program was helpful and informative. Thank you to all who attended, our sponsor Harbro Emergency Services and Restoration, and to panelists Julia Donoho and David Witkowski and contributor Anne Wein for an excellent presentation!


Jan 29, 2018


By Erica Levine CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Arup


This past December, CREW SF closed out the first year of the CREWmates mentorship program with an end-of-year celebration. Twenty-six CREW ladies participated in the one-on-one mentorship program to exchange professional guidance, develop skills, and network. In addition to monthly one-on-one meetings, program participants attended three networking mixers, toured prominent sites including the new Transbay terminal and 181 Fremont, and used the StrengthsFinder test to understand strengths, areas for development, and areas where they should partner with others.


As a mentee in the program, I cannot emphasize enough how valuable CREWmates has been for my professional development. There are few senior women in my field of energy engineering, and having guidance from a successful woman in commercial real estate helped to fill the gap. My mentor, Stacie Goeddel, provided advice on everything from cultivating confidence in my abilities to navigating tricky situations with clients. She even invited me to a gala related to one of my projects!


Building from last year’s success, we will be continuing CREWmates next year with a few changes:

  1. Pairs have the option to utilize the CREW Network e-learning mentorship modules
  2. We will encourage pairs to attend the following CREW SF events: Interactive Negotiation Workshop (Q1), Confidence & Self Promotion (Q2), and Programs Brainstorm (Q3)
  3. Current CREWmates participants are allowed to re-enroll for 2018 with the option to stay with their current partner or to switch it up


Thank you to all the CREW members who made the program a success, to 2017 mentorship program managers AJ Jacobsen and Morgan Ward, and to FORGE for sponsoring the program!


Dec 07, 2017
In Memory of Nina J. Gruen


“Women need to speak up and ask for what they want”

-Nina Gruen

“Dude, Where’s my Office” CREW SF event

July 11, 2016


CREW SF’s annual Winter Benefit took place on Thurs. Nov. 30, 2017, with a total of more than $13,000 in silent auction proceeds being donated to the CREW Network Foundation in honor of beloved CREW SF member Nina Gruen, who passed away on Sept. 15, 2017. Nina was an energetic contributor to our organization, a revolutionary in the real estate community and a pioneer for women in the field. Her company and kindness will be sorely missed.


“To say Nina was an inspiration is not enough,” said Molly Jans, 2019 President-Elect. “She brought me in as a friend and I love and will miss her. Her mentorship, keen observations and friendship have meant so much to me.”


“When Nina Gruen asked for something, she got it! I am so grateful that I had the good fortune to know her,” added Jennifer Raike, 2002 CREW SF President and 2016 CREW Chapter MVP. “I will miss her greatly.”


Nina was an integral and cherished founding member of CREW SF. She often shared her vast professional and personal knowledge through presentations, mentoring and animated conversations. Her experience and knowhow, coupled with her dynamic personality, greatly enriched CREW SF as an organization and also the individuals with whom she connected.


“Nina wasn’t just special for breaking barriers and blazing trails for women,” said Angie Sommer, former Managing Editor of The VIEW. “She was special because of her humor, her loyalty, her immense intelligence and her intense curiosity. Spending time with her and Claude (husband) was like drinking from a firehose of knowledge, stories and wit.”


Since co-founding Gruen Gruen + Associates, a renowned San Francisco–based firm that continues to provide research-based consulting and implementation services to the real estate industry and land-use policy makers, with Claude in 1970, Nina served as executive vice president and principal sociologist. She pioneered the use of behavioral research to predict market demand for commercial and residential real estate, and her work resulted in the development and redevelopment of numerous projects, varying in scale. Beyond the Bay Area, her efforts have led to the adoption of public policies and infrastructure programs that revitalized areas of California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Illinois and Ohio.


In 1982, Nina became the first woman trustee of the Urban Land Institute, and continued to be active in that organization, serving on ULI's District Council Executive Committee through 2016. In 1984, she became the first woman to be elected President of the academic Western Regional Science Association. An expansion of her presidential address to WRSA, "Sociological and Cultural Variables in Housing" was published in The Annals of Regional Science. Nina served on the State of California Transportation Department's Airspace Advisory Committee for 15 years and was its Chair from 2002 through 2005. She was also an active member of the International Women's Forum and President of its Northern California affiliate from 1995-1996. In the media world, she was known as Ms. Real Estate, writing an advice column for the ALM Media Group since 2014.


“I met Nina in 2008 when she was the featured speaker at the new members lunch I attended,” shared 2016 -2017 Board member Debbie Leifer. “She made me belly laugh with the story she told - she was hosting a meeting at her office with a group of men who naturally thought she was the secretary, and they asked how long she had been with the firm. She said, ‘ever since I founded it!’ Her wit and sparkle shine on.”


Nov 20, 2017
Boot Barn Fun!


During the CREW Convention, CREW SF Board Member Debbie Liefer led SF chapter members on a boot-buying excursion resulting in a lot of fun, bonding and of course new cowboy boots and hats. Debbie loved her new boots so much they inspired her Cowgirl Halloween Costume.


Nov 15, 2017
181 Fremont Tour


By Christina Rain, P.E., Project Manager, Langan


In October 2017, CREW’s San Francisco Chapter’s Rising Leaders Committee was invited to a once in a lifetime tour of 181 Fremont, a new skyscraper under construction in San Francisco’s South of Market District. Our tour was led by Kelly DeWees, Senior Construction Manager for Jay Paul Company, the developer of 181 Fremont.


Our first stop was the full-floor grand penthouse approximately 700 feet above Fremont Street, which was still open air when we visited! We were met with a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge and Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands. Around the corner, my favorite view yet was of downtown San Francisco – the tops of other skyscrapers appeared well below our perch with water views beyond. Because the penthouse was still under construction, we also visited one of the residences closer to completion, where we were provided a sneak peak of the high end finishes planned for the building.

Our group is pictured above on the open air terrace of the 37th floor, which will accommodate resident amenities.


Nate Warner with ARUP’s Structural Group also discussed the steel structure as we toured the building. Inside, he showed our group the viscous dampers incorporated into the steel mega-braces that lend to the building’s Resilience-based Earthquake Design Initiative Gold Rating and function to make the building resilient against a 475-year earthquake, the “big one” so to speak.

After the tour, the group enjoyed cocktails and light bites while networking at 83 Proof’s cozy upstairs lounge. Overall, the tour provided a great overview of one of the hottest properties being developed in San Francisco.

Oct 12, 2017
Chief Economist Ted Egan, Ph.D. On the State of San Francisco


On October 12, members and guests of CREW SF gathered for the 2017 Economic Forecast featuring City and County of San Francisco’s Chief Economist Dr. Ted Egan. Freshly back from vacation and armed with an informative set of slides containing data he and his team from the Office of Economic Analysis in the City Controller’s Office have collected over the years, Dr. Egan shared his examination of the results.


Employment Rate

To kick-off the presentation, Egan revealed some positive news - San Francisco’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been at or around 3 percent, an historic low, for the last two years. Since 2010, the city’s unemployment rate steadily decreased from 10 percent to 3 percent, where it has held since 2015, and neither a local or national recession is likely to take place in the coming years.


Tech Titans & Housing

As many in the region would expect, San Francisco’s economy is heavily impacted by the Technology industry. In 2016, the city’s job growth continued its torrid pace with an average increase of 26,000 new jobs per year. Nearly every sector added jobs, but none as high as Tech, which has been growing drastically since 2003. 2016 saw the addition of over 9,000 jobs in the Tech space, way beyond the additions of 1,000 jobs in Construction sector; 4,000 jobs each in the Transportation, Trade, Financial and Professional Services sectors; and 2,000 in the Manufacturing sector. The differential in numbers between tech and non-tech industries can be attributed to industry investment. Non-tech companies simply cannot afford such rapid growth. However, even with this growth, the data shows that startup activity has slowed since 2013, meaning fewer startups have been funded in San Francisco since then. An uptick in VC investment indicates that money is going towards larger, later-stage companies.


While the tech boom is not expected to end anytime soon, Dr. Egan theorized that lack of physical space in San Francisco is contributing to the slow-down in startup activity. The absence of vacancy in both housing and office space leave new and existing companies with few options for companies to develop and expand. Recovery in stock prices and venture capital likely contributed to renewed growth in apartment rents this past year, but the office market has yet to see the same rebound. The increase in office jobs without the accumulation of office space tells us that the city is at capacity.


Thank you to all who attended and sponsored this year’s Annual Economic Forecast. See you next year at the 2018 Economic Forecast!  


Oct 06, 2017
The Island City Tour

By Christina Rain, P.E., Project Manager, Langan


On 1 August 2017, CREW’s San Francisco and East Bay Chapters co-hosted a successful tour of the City of Alameda, in which over 85 members and guests were shuttled around “The Island City” to learn about real estate development occurring in the area. City of Alameda representatives served as tour guides, relying on their in-depth knowledge of the City as it exists today and their varying roles guiding the vision for Alameda as the Bay Area’s Island of Innovation.


At the tour’s first stop, 1700 Harbor Bay Parkway, we were met by Dhruv Patel, who announced plans to build a new hotel at the property (see photo – left). In the photo (right), Debbie Potter, Community Development Director for the City of Alameda, can be seen speaking about Alameda Landing, the tour’s second stop, where CREW members and guests enjoyed views to Jack London and discussed challenges related to stabilizing the shoreline of the property.



The tour concluded with our third and final stop at Building 9, where Ron Silberstein, Admiral Maltings co-founder, and Joe Ernst, SrmErnst founder, welcomed us inside the Building 9 commercial spaces, taught us about malt production at the planned Admiral Maltings, and presented the space for Almanac Beer Company’s future brewery.


Continuing with the theme of craft beer, the tour concluded with a networking event at a local-favorite, Faction Brewing, where we enjoyed good company, good brews, and good eats.

Jun 21, 2017
Lifting Up Life Learning Academy


By: Lindsey Madison, SIMEON Commercial Properties

Each year CREW SF partners with a charitable organization to raise awareness and support them in the field of commercial real estate or women in general. CREW SF believes it is vital to partner with a local community organization to help raise awareness for issues that impact locals. This year, CREW SF partnered with Life Learning Academy (LLA) to support the non-profit’s initiative called LLA Build. LLA is a San Francisco Unified School District charter high school founded in 1998 by the non-profit Delancey Street Foundation. LLA’s mission is to maintain “a nonviolent community for students who have not been successful in traditional school settings” primarily for homeless youth. They are raising funds to build on-campus dorms for those same students and need to raise $2 million to break ground on their project.


Dr. Teri Delane presenting LLA to the Mariposa Hunters Point Yacht Club

CREW SF aims to increase visibility of the LLA Build initiative by introducing them to engineers, planners, contractors, construction managers and more who can help by providing in-kind donations or discounted services to LLA. Over the weekend of June 10th our very own board member and community affairs liaison Cary Ronan hosted LLA at the Mariposa Hunters Point Yacht Club (MHPYC). LLA’s founder Dr. Teri Delane gave a heart-warming and inspiring presentation to the club members detailing the inspiration behind the foundation of Life Learning Academy. The club was able to raise approximately $1200 that evening to support LLA and its efforts. To learn more about LLA and support their cause visit their website


To follow their progress, like LLA on Facebook: and be sure to use the hashtag #LLABuild

From Left to Right: Dr. Teri Delane, (MHPYC Commodore), CREW SF Board Member Cary Ronan, Community Affairs Champion for LLA, Lindsey Madison

Jun 14, 2017
SFMOMA Architecture Tour and Networking Evening: A sold out event with a big excitement


By: Christiana Kyrillou, Wood Bagot


Following the SF MOMA Process Luncheon, CREW SF presented to both members and non-members an evening of architecture, art and networking at the SFMOMA. The group joined a festive and fervent social time at Thirsty Bear Salon enjoying drinks and tapas while mingling and networking.


After the Networking portion of the evening, we all ventured across the street to the new SFMOMA and joining our two guides, Jean and Youssef, for a guided one-hour architecture tour. We met by the impressive steps of the Richard Serra Sculpture and split into two groups. The guides took us through the Snøhetta-designed expansion of the new SFMOMA building and renovated Mario Botta wing. We received a curated understanding of the process from inspiration to construction, as well as the challenges faced in designing what is now the largest museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art in the United States.


The groups explored the progression of the SFMOMA through its expanded gallery spaces, outdoor terraces, and environmentally conscious design. Highlights of this tour included the Helen and Charles Schwab Hall on Floor 2, the living wall on Floor 3, and unique views of San Francisco from the multiple terraces. At the end of the guided tour, those interested joined in the viewing of the special exhibition of Matisse/Diebenkorn.


Everyone left the event feeling inspired, captivated and enthralled!


May 10, 2017
Transbay Transit Center Tour


By Kena David, BCCI Construction Company


The CREW SF Rising Leaders organized an exclusive tour of the coveted Transbay Transit Center project for CREW SF members. We began the tour with an informative video presentation bringing us back in time to the Transbay Terminal of the past with its connecting trains running across the bay bridge and all the way to Sacramento. In the height of rail travel, about 26 million people used the Transbay Terminal each year. With the rise of the automobile, this changed the Transbay Terminal to a bus only terminal. The growth of the Bay Area could no longer be supported by this bus-only terminal. Along with the current real estate trends for a community-development approach, the Transbay Transit Center project is not just a transit center, but also new commercial high rises, residential units, retail areas, and parks.


To truly understand the magnitude of the project, totaling over 1 million gross square feet, Monique Hawn (Turner Construction) led us to the construction site. Starting on the street level, which will be the retail area and main information center, we could start to understand the vastness of the project which spans 4 city blocks. We toured through the open air bus terminal, throughout the rooftop park, and down to the future rail connection for Caltrain and the high speed rail to Los Angeles. Monique’s tour guiding shed light on how every side of the real estate industry is involved in a project of this magnitude, which is nice for our diverse CREW SF crowd of lawyers, contractors, engineers, construction managers, architects, and sustainability professionals to name a few.


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