The Callander Blog

Calling All Urban Explorers!

Callander Associates is excited to attend another California Trails & Greenways conference! Not only do we have a booth in the exhibit hall, we are also presenting Developing an Urban Trail on Thursday, March 29th from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM.


Stop by our booth on Tuesday evening and Wednesday and Thursday during the conference to “Quiz the Explorer in You”! If you answer enough questions correctly, you will be entered into our GRAND PRIZE drawing where you could win a Sonoma-inspired bike basket filled with active goodies. The grand prize winner will be chosen Thursday at 5:30 pm, so don’t miss out!

Jana Schwartz, Designer in the San Jose Office


Recreation That Doesn’t Go Out of Style

The great outdoors beckons….and always has!  Fashion styles, hair styles and pop culture all change over time, but one thing remains the same: our fond affection for being in the great wide open.  Whether you were rollerblading on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail in those acid-washed jeans or walking on the Virginia Corridor Trail in your skinny jeans, Callander Associates has been there for the past 45 years providing timeless design for recreational facilities across northern California.  So go on, get out there!  It’s always in style.

Coyote Point Beach Trail, 1981

Coyote Point Beach Trail, 1979

Monterey Bay Recreation Trail, 1984

Baylands Trail, 1987

Tidewater Bikeway, 1995

Neary Lagoon, 1997

Bayside Park Trail, 1998

Riverwalk, 2004

Centennial Way, 2006

Stojanovich Family Park, 2010

Lower Guadalupe River Trail, 2012

Putah Creek Trail, 2014

Virginia Corridor, 2016

Lake Natoma Trail, 2017

Passatempo Park, 2017

Written by: David Rubin, Associate and Outdoor Enthusiast in the San Jose Office

Happy Holidays!

As we come into another Holiday season and the end of 2017 (which went by way too fast!), we wanted to thank all of our clients, project teams, and of course our employees for making 2017 another amazing year. We have the unique opportunity to work with clients we love on projects we are passionate about and with individuals both at Callander and at other firms that put the “dreamwork” in team work!

From our Callander Crew to you, Thank You and Happy Holidays!


Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

In the case of Principal and Owner Mark Slichter, he has had 30 years of fun as a valuable leader of the Callander family.  Yes, I said 30 years! This is a HUGE milestone so of course we had to celebrate it!

On September 8, 1987 Mark started his first day at Callander as a Landscape Architect 1 (as he puts it “low man on the totem pole”). Within a few years Mark had quickly moved up the “corporate ladder” to Project Manager (early 90’s), Associate (late 90’s), Senior Associate (early 2000), and then Principal and Owner in 2002. It is his dedication, hard work and passion for landscape architecture that has brought him to where he is today. During these 30 years he has been the student, the teacher and now a Principal.

After months of thinking about what we should do for Mark to celebrate this accomplishment, we decided to put together a ginormous card with staff photos from 1987. Those staff members that were born after 1987 were asked to find something to contribute from that year that represents them. Within a week everyone sent in their pictures and the outcome of the card was absolutely amazing!

Mark was greeted by a fully decorated office to show our appreciation of all he has done for the CALAfam!

Congratulations on your 30 year CALAversary Mark! We are so grateful for everything you have done and continue to do for Callander.

Sonja Ditto, Human Resources and Business Development Manager

Cycling To Success: Bike to Work Day 2017

Bike-to-Work day hit cities across the US, and encouraged employees to rethink how they get to work. Callander staff, from all three offices, joined in on the fun and participated in Bike-to-Work Day. It is not unusual to see staff roll into the office on two wheels, but this May event is a great way to join a nation of bicycling commuters.
Callander works on many projects that impact biking opportunities across Northern California and having insider knowledge from bike-riding staff on bicyclist behavior and comfort is valuable. Biking is catching on as a viable and enjoyable commute mode, and thinking about the future of bikeways is a design challenge Callander has been supporting for decades. Check out our project page to learn more about bike paths, trails, and greenways that Callander has designed to contribute to a safer and more extensive bicycle network.
Jana Schwartz, Designer in the San Jose Office

Vision Zero : A Commitment to Safer Streets

Photo 1-Bike Summit 2016Silicon Valley Bike Summit 2016; Source: Silicon Valley Bike Coalition

On August 20, 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the 6th annual Silicon Valley Bike Summit, hosted by the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. At this summit, bike activists, enthusiasts, and professionals learned about what Silicon Valley is doing to create safer bicycle networks throughout the South Bay Area. I am new to the South Bay, but I have been a passionate bike rider since attending UC Davis, so learning about more about the local bicycle community is an interest to me personally and professionally. The daylong summit covered a wide range of topics, which activated group dialogues and panel discussions about the environment of active transportation in Silicon Valley. The event focused largely on three topic areas: California bicycle and pedestrian policy updates, case studies on protected bikeways and other progressive bicycle infrastructure trends, and the newly adopted Vision Zero for the City of San Jose. Each topic provided beneficial information, but Vision Zero was new and unfamiliar topic that I am compelled to share widely. Vision Zero is an impactful policy that will revolutionize roadway design, and there is tremendous opportunity for community designers in San Jose and other metropolitan regions will help propel this effort forward.

What is Vision Zero?: Vision Zero is a multi-national, road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. Vision Zero began in Sweden in 1997 as a street policy to eliminate traffic fatalities for all transportation modes (Vision Zero Initiative, 2016). The effectiveness of Vision Zero comes from a “safety first” collaboration among political leaders, roadway designers and managers, traffic enforcement agencies, vehicle manufactures, transit operators, government regulators, educators, public health officials, community advocates, and the public (Vision Zero San Jose, 2015). In May 2015, San Jose became the fourth city in the nation to formally adopt a Vision Zero transportation safety initiative and commit to eliminating fatalities and reducing severe injuries caused by traffic collisions (City of San Jose, 2016). Today, over 200 cities across the nation have joined the Vision Zero movement to end roadway fatalities for all roadway users.

Photo-2-Pedestrian-survival-graphic-webVehicle-related injury; Source: Vision Zero Seattle, 2015

Vision Zero in San Jose: The Bike Summit featured a few of the founding members of the Vision Zero initiative in San Jose, who discussed lessons learned from the first year of implementation, and how the city will continue to reach its target of zero roadway fatalities. Speakers for this session included Jessica Garner, Senior Community Health Planner for San Mateo County Health System, Jaime Fearer, Planning & Policy Manager for California Walks, Lieutenant Steven Payne of the San Jose Police Department, and Laura Wells, Deputy Director of Transportation Safety for the City of San Jose. A reoccurring sentiment from each speaker was that roadway fatalities are 100% preventable, and statistics on roadway incidents collected by San Jose show just how much work is yet to be done in achieving Vision Zeros ultimate goal. There are about 2,400 injury crashes annually in San Jose, resulting in approximately 3,200 injuries, including roughly 40 fatalities and 150 severe injuries (Vision Zero San Jose). In 2014, 93% of traffic fatalities in San Jose occurred on major City streets and County expressways. Incredibly, at least 50% of these fatalities occurred on just 3% of the roadways in the City. A majority of these accidents occur on streets near or within low income and minority neighborhoods. Many of these areas have poor street lighting, and over 75% of the fatal traffic crashes occur most frequently at night when visibility is limited (Vision Zero San Jose, 2015).


Vision Zero San Jose Logo; Source: City of San Jose

What is San Jose doing to reach Vision Zero?: Vision Zero is a collective effort that requires community support and constant attention and centers around three core concepts: engineering, enforcement, and education. The City of San Jose is making the most of their limited budget to roll out a variety of operational improvements to reduce traffic fatalities, focusing on engineering, enforcement, and education. Engineered improvements include upgrading streetlights from “yellow” sodium vapor lights to brighter and more energy efficient “white” Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights. As of 2015, 37% of San Jose’s streets have been retrofitted with brighter lighting, including nearly all portions of the 14 major streets identifies as having the highest frequency of fatalities and severe injuries (Vision Zero San Jose, 2015). Enforcement includes a partnership with the local police department, which helps keep track of crash rates and updating the crash and incident data. At the Bike Summit, Lieutenant Steven Payne spoke about how officers in San Jose are now trained to be attentive to high-risk crash areas and help patrol more heavily around problematic road sections that have been flagged in the Vision Zero traffic incident data. Education is one of the largest and most important tools because education helps establish partnerships between local groups and individuals to help build Vision Zero as a more visible and recognized effort. Education also comes in the form of available data and materials. The City of San Jose has made the data on traffic incidents and fatalities available to the public, so community designers, planners, and engineers, can use this data in their plans to best support the Vision Zero effort. For instance, if a project resides in an area that has been identified as a high-risk area, design concepts can incorporate roadway safety components that will support the Vision Zero target goal and help establish safer community road networks. At Callander Associates in the San Jose office, we will be able to follow the evolution of Vision Zero and apply design strategies to help construct a safer, usable, and more versatile roadway network for all road users. Vision Zero is not just a policy intended to improve roadway efficiency, but also a community effort to increase regional connectivity and equity.

Photo-4-San-Jose-Traffic-and-Commuters-web Commuting in San Jose; Source: Richard Masoner, Creative Commons

Jana Schwartz, Designer in our San Jose Office


Reviewing The Future: ASLA Awards Jury

I recently had a very rewarding experience serving on the 2016 ASLA Awards jury representing the Northern California Chapter.  This year, the chapter reviewed submissions from the Potomac Chapter (covering the Washington D.C. area).  The jury consisted of seven individuals with varying backgrounds and levels of professional and academic experience.  One jury member happened to be one of the most accomplished landscape architects of our generation.  So to say I felt a little awestruck would be an understatement!


The Potomac Chapter submitted a total 42 projects in 4 different categories (Design – Built Work, Design – Unbuilt Work, Analysis & Planning and Communications).  The project types ranged from parks, institutional, civic, city planning, open space to residential, multi-family housing, resort and everything in between.  While I can’t yet reveal award-winners, I can tell you there were a number of stellar projects to review.  In reviewing these projects, I was reminded how landscape architects play a vital role as stewards of the built environment, whether in an urban setting or in the countryside.  And a common thread evident in the submitted projects was a commitment to sustainable design.  There were park projects that accommodated heavy program needs while being sited in and around sensitive environments.  The treatment of these built edges included meadow and stream restoration, among other techniques.  Multi-family housing projects incorporated green roof design and captured rainwater and condensate from mechanical systems to irrigate on-site landscape.  Day use areas utilized regenerative eco-sound walls to creatively resolve the problem of a noisy roadway nearby.  In addition to the sustainable aspects of the designs, there was also a consistent pattern language of form and space among project submissions.  Many designs exhibited striking rectilinear forms, expressed in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional ways.

Reviewing these projects, it was also clear how important graphics and high quality photography are to “telling the story”.  I have no doubt there were good projects that didn’t get award consideration because the graphics were muddled and confusing to the jury.  Also, projects with high quality photography that depicted a project’s key features in a prominent way were more likely to keep the jury’s attention.  For those considering submitting a project for award, remember these tips.  It has to be a good project that elevates landscape architecture, but it also needs to tell the story in a graphically impactful way.


After spending the good part of a Saturday with such talented people, my biggest takeaway was that landscape architecture is a fun, yet noble profession that’s critically important to our future.  I left feeling excited about continuing my career pursuits.  And serving on the jury was a joyous reminder of the type of work that got me excited about landscape architecture in the first place!

Dave Rubin, Project Manager

Irrigation Innovation: Hunter Factory Tour

Last month, Hunter Irrigation’s Bay Area representative Christine Hawkins, invited the San Mateo office to visit their corporate headquarters and factory located in San Marcos, California. Team members Shawn Sanfilippo and Pierre Chin-Dickey took this opportunity to learn more about some of Hunter’s products and how they are researched, developed, and produced.


After a quick flight to San Diego, we were immediately carted off to the Hunter headquarters. The facility is a LEED platinum building that sits above their extended campus and manufacturing facility. Marty with the Marketing Department was able to show us the new line of details that Hunter was working on for their drip systems to help designers design using Hunter products. Afterwards, we had a presentation featuring a selection of Hunter’s flagship products, such as Hunter’s 2-wire controllers and their drip irrigation product Eco-mat. Mike Madewell introduced us to Hunter’s I-Core, Dual, and ACC 2-wire controllers. We had a 2-wire bootcamp through the entire setup of a 2-wire system from wiring and control process, to making sure we were grounding all of our stations. We were shown some very compelling photos of Eco-mat installations and the positive results in extreme drought areas, especially in turf streetscape applications. Afterwards we wrapped up the night at Stone Brewery where we had a chance to dine on some delicious food and drinks amongst Stone’s beautiful garden which was lighted with nothing less than Hunter’s FX Luminaires.

On Friday we had a chance to tour the Hunter factory along with a group of Cal Poly Landscape Architecture students. We toured all the departments from shipping, manufacturing, and product testing. On the MP Rotor manufacturing floor, we saw dozens of machines molding tons of plastic pellets into MP Rotor heads, while overhead tracks carried spray bodies to their shipping boxes. The drip line manufacturing machine was especially fascinating as it shot out yards of hot plastic tube at 400 degrees F and had a small shotgun that inserted the emitters in the drip line. In the testing room, a large area contained a series of small buckets radiating out from a single stand where Hunter can test a particular spray head. These buckets capture data for distribution uniformity and also precipitation rates.


We also had a great presentation and demonstration by FX luminaires displaying their latest models and some really fascinating technology using their mobile device controlled light systems. Since all of FX Luminaire systems are low voltage, landscape architects can design our own lighting on a project and save money on contracting out to a sub!

Though the trip was quick it was very interesting to meet all the people behind the product. Everyone we met was full of pride and enthusiasm for their company. Christine and the whole Hunter staff were very hospitable and made sure our trip was equal parts educational and fun!

-Pierre Chin-Dickey & Shawn Sanfilippo

Conserving Water One Step At A Time

California has for many years been in a drought, but this year is the worst in recorded history. With no snow pack and not a lot of rain this winter (or spring!) everyone is looking for ways to conserve water.  From the beginning, Callander has always designed our projects with water conservation at the forefront by being advocates of drip irrigation and specifying low or very low water use plants, but do our employees also conserve water in their personal lives? Well…I asked and these are the answers I received:


Dave Rubin:  Last fall, we turned off all but one of our irrigation zones at home.  The only part of the landscape still getting water this summer?…A small veggie garden!  And even that is scaled back this year.

Brian Fletcher: The credit for our family’s water savings definitely goes to my wife.  Even before the drought she felt very strongly about water conservation.  Her strategies began small with a bucket in the shower to collect water while it comes to temperature.  That water we use for our drought resistant landscaping by our front door.  From there we have installed dual flush toilet mechanisms on existing toilets, low flow shower heads, and installed a low flow toilet on a recent remodel. For Christmas she asked for a received our first water barrel for rain water collection from our roof drains.  She was thinking a small 50 gallon barrel but what I gave her was a 220 gallon barrel which was easily filled with the early rains this year.  We plan on installing a second 220 gallon barrel this summer.

Matt Gruber: I am taking military type showers (only turning the water on to get wet, turning it off, then back on for rinsing) and putting a bucket under the faucet as the water warms up to use to flush the toilet. In addition we save all the water from washing our vegetables to be used for the vegetable garden, we save our water from brewing beer to be used in our garden, and we’ve stopped watering our lawn.

Mark Slichter: well,  in the Slichter household we have a pail in the shower that fills up with water while we’re waiting for it to get hot.  We pour that into the toilet tank after flushing so it takes a lot less fresh water to recharge the tank.  I told Matt that we do this and he let me know that they’ve been doing that forever in the Gruber household.  It’s hard to keep up with the Grubers! and of course the sprinklers are off.  That’s infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things but I’m a big believer in the collective power of people to effect events.  My dead lawn might inspire hundreds of dead lawns, or if I get my act together and switch out to drought tolerant plantings, my drought tolerant plantings might inspire hundreds of drought tolerant plantings.  Then the needle starts to move…..slowly……..

Marie Mae: We’ve been conserving water by: installing synthetic turf in lieu of real turf in our backyard; harvesting rainwater for irrigating our garden; installing an automatic drip system for irrigating our garden; installing mulch to improve soil structure and conserve soil moisture; short showers for the kids (no more baths!); basin-washing dishes by hand (using rinse water in a basin and not running the faucet); taking our car to a commercial car wash and taking it less frequently.

Nate R.: Personally, I minimize my water consumption by limiting shower time, selectively flushing the toilet, and washing dishes as quickly as possible. Choosing not to eat animal foods can save roughly 250 gallons of water per week! (Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,

Brenna: I love designing with native, low water-use plants and I’m thrilled to be able to do that more often as water conservation in the landscape becomes a top priority for our clients. At home, I even helped my parents replace their front lawn with beautiful drought tolerant shrubs and groundcover last fall, and they are already seeing water savings over last year’s numbers!

Zach: I turn off the water when I soap up in the shower (dead serious, have been doing this for about 7 years now).

Ben: The Woodside family is doing a few things to conserve water.  We have shut the water off to our toilets and are using buckets to capture the water that’s usually wasted as we wait for our shower water to heat up.  We dump the buckets in the back of the toilet and we are good to go.  I am also reducing my turf area by 1/3 and installing low water use planting.

Shawn: I’ve cut back on my yard watering days and times. I’m using a 5 gallon bucket to capture the shower water before it gets hot. Full dishwasher and laundry loads and checking for irrigation leaks.

Melissa: I have implemented a “yellow let it mellow” policy at our house and we are remodeling our bathroom with the new low flow toilet and shower fixture. I am also irrigating our shrubs and lawn on an as needed (barely surviving) basis only and I planted succulents in what was once a water feature. I am also looking to invest in a rain barrel now that I have used all my buckets for capturing the little rain water we did get.

And what do I do to conserve…

Well…at the Ditto house we have a bucket in our showers to collect the cold water (because I just can’t get myself to take a cold shower!) then we use that water for our outdoor plants and garden.  We also do not leave running water on while brushing teeth or doing dishes and have cut down on showers and the amount of time in the showers (my teenager gets a 2 song maximum!). My girls like to have water by their bed at night (or else they think they will die of thirst), but often there is leftover water, so we take that water and it gets poured into our German Shepherd’s water bowl or used for our indoor plants.

As you can see at Callander we not only design with the drought in mind we personally try to make a difference! Have we inspired you? What are you doing to conserve?

Sonja Ditto – HR & Marketing Manager

We Are In This Together: Hedgerow Farms Tour

Back in April of this year, I attended my first California Native Grassland Association’s Field day at Hedgerow Farms in Winters, California. The weather was unseasonably cold and wet and I realized when I got to the farm, that I was entirely unprepared for this weather (I don’t even own a proper rain coat!). But the weather did not stop myself or others from attending this event, as there were over 100+ people, who also seemed as unprepared for the weather as I was.   Soggy hay rides aside, we were all excited and anxious to see what was growing at Hedgerow Farms.

Some of the key things I took away from the day were the importance of preserving and restoring our native grasslands;


Beautiful field of Melica californica

providing habitat for beneficial insects including bees and butterflies;


Lasthenia glabrata


Asclepias speciosa

and incorporating native grasses and forbs in our urban landscape.


Whether it’s responding to the drought, restoring the monarch butterfly and bee population or fighting the loss of our native grasslands…we are in this together.

– Melissa Ruth, project manager