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Success Stories

Mixed Use and 400 Units

Controversy: “The Best TOD Project in the country!”

It might be hard to imagine a community needing to be convinced to transform a sprawling parking lot into a state-of-the-art TOD mixed-use destination, but this was the case for the Gateway at Millbrae Station proposal. While the project at a transit hub offered 400 critically needed homes, including 80 for low-income veterans, along with a municipal revenue-producing hotel, retail and Class A office space, there was still well-funded opposition. Hell-bent on keeping new residents of diverse incomes out of their community and pursuing their dream of luxury shopping, opposing interests fought the project at hearings and ran a referendum campaign to challenge the city council’s decision.

To win planning commission and city council approval, GCA Strategies helped the applicant mobilize more than 250 local affordable housing advocates, veterans, businesses and environmentalists. We responded to the referendum effort by organizing in a matter of days an anti-petition drive that successfully prevented the referendum attempt from qualifying for the ballot.

The results:
The Millbrae Station project won all required entitlements and broke ground in December 2019.

GCA projects are successful projects. Check out Gateway at Millbrae Station here and here

Small Cell Antennas in Northern California

Generating Support in a Diverse Community

Ever wonder why cell phone service suddenly cuts out while you’re on a call, or you find yourself in a dead spot with no reception at all? You guessed it, the forces of NIMBYism may be at work.

Everyone enjoys the luxuries of cellular phone connectivity and relies on a strong network for safety in emergencies, yet when an installation is proposed, oppositional voices from some neighbors can be loud and strong. With next generation 5G cellular technology requiring additional network improvements – and FCC plans to reduce municipal roadblocks sidetracked in the courts – the controversy continues in communities nationwide. City officials are often tempted to pander to NIMBYs, misguided health advocates and other squeaky wheels rather than approve adding small cells equipment to existing telephone poles and streetlights.

When organized opposition threatened to derail plans for new small cells infrastructure in a diverse East Bay city, GCA Strategies made sure decision makers heard from the rest of the community.

Results: At dozens of public hearings, we organized community residents representing all ethnicities and ages – including students, businesses, young tech workers, gig workers, senior citizens and the disabled – to rally in support of improved cell phone infrastructure. More than 120 cell sites were approved in swatches over a three-year period.

GCA projects are successful projects.

Empire Pass At Deer Valley Ski Resort

Grassroots support heads off a referendum

Well-funded anti-growth activists kicked off a referendum petition campaign to stop United Park City Mine Company’s proposed 1,800-acre new ski resort in Park City, Utah. Within days of the company retaining GCA Strategies, we countered with a vigorous petition drive and a sophisticated community outreach campaign based on state-of-the-art public opinion survey research.

The results: After we helped organize a strong citizens’ advocacy group to support the proposed resort, anti-growth forces chose to suspend efforts toward a referendum and instead negotiate with the developer. The project sponsor avoided an expensive election and won unchallenged City Council approval for a new hotel, 500 upscale homes, retail and ski facilities. The Flagstaff Mountain project, later renamed Empire Pass, was the first major new ski resort approved in America in over 15 years, and has been incorporated in the world-famous Deer Valley Resort.

GCA projects are successful projects. Check out Empire Luxury Lodging.

San Francisco Columbarium

Expanding a landmark cemetery in an affluent neighborhood

When Sentinel Cremation Societies Inc. encountered vigorous opposition to its proposed expansion of San Francisco’s only private cemetery/mausoleum in a wealthy single-family neighborhood, they turned to GCA Strategies to help win community support.  Combining sophisticated communications techniques with old-fashioned door-to-door grassroots outreach,  GCA Strategies generated more than 2,000 letters and petitions from residents, merchants and preservationist organizations.

The results: GCA’s consensus-building efforts resulted in only two neighbors opposing the project at the final public hearing.  The project won support before both the Landmarks Advisory Commission and the Planning Commission.  When further expansion was needed eight years later, GCA Strategies’ newest outreach efforts resulted in unanimous approval, and avoided appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

GCA projects are successful projects. Check out The Columbarium. 

Santa Inez Apartments

Low-income housing, high-income opponents

When Willow Partners ran into trouble trying to build low income housing for large families in a very high-income Silicon Valley neighborhood, they turned to GCA to gain land use approvals and secure a $3.23 million loan from the City.

GCA Strategies organized more than 400 prospective tenants to apply for residency and advocate for the project. Church leaders and civil rights groups endorsed the project, and we enlisted the local Chamber of Commerce, regional employers, unions, political party activists and local newspapers in an unusual coalition to support affordable housing for working families. Meanwhile, community outreach based on psychosocial research succeeded in defusing hostility from some angry neighbors while minimizing opposition from others.

The results: Faced with support from hundreds of residents, the San Mateo Planning Commission and City Council rejected opposition from nearby homeowner associations, approved the 42-unit multifamily housing project, and issued the low-interest housing loan needed to make the project financial feasible.

GCA projects are successful projects. Check out Willow Partners: Santa Inez Apartments.

Gaining Support for 12,000 New Supportive Housing Units in New York City

Public and nonprofit agencies in New York City face an extraordinary challenge: building 20,000 new units of supportive housing for mentally disabled homeless people throughout the five boroughs. That’s why the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY) turned to GCA and its national reputation for winning political and community support for controversial projects to help overcome NIMBY resistance to housing and services for special populations.

Working with the Network, GCA convened a series of roundtables and discussion forums with mental health, housing, and homeless service providers. GCA outlined citywide outreach strategies to promote public acceptance for supportive housing, including outreach to New York City religious organizations and the creation of a citywide database of pro-housing citizen advocates. GCA produced comprehensive “key messages” for individual housing proposals, a prototypical endorsement card, and a standardized telephone recruitment script to turn pro-housing attitudes into pro-housing action. In-depth training sessions provided SHNNY’s member agencies the training they need to deal with angry or suspicious neighbors and to get citizens to say “yes” to supportive housing in their own backyards.

GCA projects are successful projects. Check out

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