Aaron Aknin AICP, Principal
Aaron Aknin, AICP, is a Principal and Co-Owner of Good City Company. He has nearly two decades of Bay Area municipal experience, including serving in an executive capacity for several different Peninsula cities. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and the American Planning Association. Aaron has frequently spoken at regional events, as well as served on panels at national conferences on topics related to development, downtown planning, transportation, parking, affordable housing, and related issues.
Most recently, Aaron was the Assistant City Manager and Community Development Director with the City of Redwood City. In this capacity, he oversaw a 70+ member department, which included the Planning, Housing, Engineering, Transportation, Front Counter Services, and Code Enforcement divisions. As the Assistant City Manager, he led key Citywide initiatives and also served as Interim City Manager in 2015.
Aaron was in Redwood City during a time of unprecedented growth and community involvement (2014-2019). During his half-decade with the City, the City reviewed and processed over 4,000 new housing units, as well as several million square feet of office space. In addition, Aaron oversaw the implementation of the Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan, including several key amendments to the plan. Aaron helped shape a first of its kind community benefits program (“Partnership Redwood City”), adoption of several key affordable housing initiatives including an inclusionary housing ordinance, an Airbnb affordable housing tax and renter protections, and the adoption the Citywide Transportation Plan.
Aaron was also deeply involved in economic development issues and served on the Redwood City Community Improvement Association (RCIA) Board. Aaron continues to serve on the RCIA Board and was recently appointed to the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Finally, one of Aaron’s key focuses in Redwood City was improving the process, both for residents participating in policy making, as well as applicants, business owners and developers who chose to invest in the City.
Prior to coming to Redwood City, Aaron was with the City of Palo Alto in 2012-2014. He served as both the Assistant and Interim Director of Planning and Community Environment. In this capacity, he led the Planning and Transportation Divisions within the City. Key projects included the formation of the first Downtown Residential Permit Program (RPP), leading the downtown development cap process, providing direction related to the Comprehensive Plan (General Plan), being the Planning Commission liaison, and overseeing several Stanford related developments.
During his time in Palo Alto, Aaron focused much of his efforts on transparency by increasing the amount of available (and understandable) public information and building a connection within the community.
Aaron “grew up” as a local government professional within the City of San Bruno. He began his career in San Bruno in 2002 as an Assistant Planner, and left in 2012, after spending the last 5 years as the Community Development Director. As Community Development Director, he was in charge of the Planning, Building, and the Code Enforcement divisions in the City. He also staffed the Planning Commission and managed their agendas.
During his time in San Bruno, the Shops at Tanforan mall was renovated for the first time in generations, and over 1,500 residential units were constructed citywide. This included over 1,000 units at “The Crossing” (former Navy Base) which included 315 affordable units. During Aaron’s tenure as Director, the first General Plan in 25 years was adopted, and the draft Transit Corridor Plan was released. Most importantly, Aaron served as the Plan Section Chief during the PG&E Pipeline Explosion and worked closely with property owners during the immediate aftermath and in the months and years following the disaster.
Aaron grew up in the Peninsula, spent much of his adult life in San Francisco, and moved back to San Carlos in 2012. He lives there with his wife Cindy, and two kids.
Lisa Costa Sanders Principal
Ms. Costa Sanders has been with the firm since 1992. Her experience and specialties include interdepartmental project management, current, and long-range planning, solid waste and recycling management, budget preparation, and economic development and housing program implementation. She also has extensive experience in design review, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Subdivision Map Act and worked on permit streamlining and permit tracking systems. Ms. Costa Sanders manages staff and processes large complex development projects.
Serving as Principal Planner for the City of San Carlos, Ms. Costa Sanders provides staff assistance for larger complex Planning and Economic Development projects. She was the Project Planner for the Wheeler Plaza Development and Landmark Hotel Development. She also assisted with property acquisition for economic development, managed city-owned properties including lease negotiations and managed the City’s affordable housing programs. Ms. Costa Sanders also assists with General Plan and Zoning Code updates and amendments.
Ms. Costa Sanders also served as the Acting Assistant City Manager for the City of San Carlos. In that capacity, she prepared the Mayor’s State of the City presentation, managed the City’s annual Strategic Plan update, reviewed all City Council staff reports and attended several regional meetings on behalf of the City Manager’s office.
As Town Planner for the Town of Atherton, Ms. Costa Sanders manages all current and long-range planning and presents projects to the Planning Commission and City Council. Ms. Costa Sanders also prepares ordinance amendments, General Plan updates and amendments, works on annexations and subdivisions.
Ms. Costa Sanders is currently assisting the City of South San Francisco with its comprehensive General Plan update, preparation of the Environmental Impact Report and Zoning Code Update.
As Contract Principal Planner for the City of Redwood City, Ms. Costa Sanders managed larger complex development applications including the Harbor View Place development, Rocketship Charter School, multi-family development at 150 El Camino Real, mixed-use development at 557 E. Bayshore and 610 Walnut Street, Sandpiper School expansion and the City’s new water tank project.
Previously as the Acting Planning Manager for the City of San Bruno, she was the project planner for the Tanforan Remodel Project, Crossing 350-unit housing development, Pacific Bay Vistas, 308 unit multi-family development, Merimont 70 new home development, Skycrest 24 new home development, and Cedar Mills 14 new home development. She also assisted the Public Services Director with preparing reports to the City Council, managing sustainability projects, managing grant programs and served as the Assistant Project Manager for the San Bruno Grade Separation project.