Voter Guide October 1, 2015

SPUR provides in-depth analysis of the 11 local propositions on San Francisco's November 2015 ballot. We focus on outcomes, not ideology, offering objective analysis and advising voters on which measures will deliver real solutions.

Blog September 18, 2015

In September, San Francisco Chief Economist Ted Egan released a report analyzing the impacts of a moratorium on new housing construction in the Mission District. While the rapid changes happening in the Mission neighborhood are real and of grave concern, the report showed that a moratorium on new housing would have many costs and few benefits. 

White Paper September 11, 2015

There is a long history of attempts at better collaboration between the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). An MTC proposal this summer to establish a merged planning department has again opened up the discussion about the future of regional planning in the Bay Area. SPUR offers thoughts on the proposal and the broader opportunity for improved regional planning.

SPUR Report September 9, 2015

Downtown Oakland is poised to take on a more important role in the region. But the future is not guaranteed. An economic boom could stall before it gets going. Or the economy could take off in a way that harms Oakland’s character, culture and diversity. We propose five big ideas for how downtown Oakland can grow while providing benefits to all. 

Article September 6, 2015

Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, planners, writers, designers, dreamers, an L.A. expat and the manager of the Giants, among others, share the walks that make San Francisco their city.

Blog August 18, 2015

San Francisco housing fights may make the headlines, but the median home sales price in the San Jose metropolitan area is the highest in the nation, at $980,000. A new advocacy group launched this year will focus directly on Santa Clara County’s affordable housing issues. SV@Home will advocate for more policies, programs, funding and land for affordable housing in the county. ​

White Paper August 12, 2015

Like older downtown parks throughout the country, San Jose’s St. James Park has suffered from disinvestment in recent years. Today downtown San Jose is experiencing new vitality and growth, creating an opportunity to transform St. James Park into the jewel it deserves to be. SPUR recommends steps to create a renewed vision for the park through improved stewardship and governance.

Blog July 29, 2015

Many communities in Marin and Sonoma County grew up around rail. The remnants of this legacy are the walkable downtowns adjacent to former rail stations in many North Bay cities. Now, after decades of hard work by locals, passenger trains will once again connect the North Bay's communities: Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) will begin passenger rail service in December 2016. 

Article July 28, 2015

Two of the best examples of urbanism in San Jose are Santana Row and Westfield Valley Fair, wildly successful retail, commercial and residential destinations that pull in millions of visitors from all over the region. As these projects prepare to expand, opportunities for enhancing transit and walkability in San Jose can, too.

Article July 28, 2015

Resilience and adaptation have become buzzwords in public policy, but the experience of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina shows how imperative these ideas are as we face a changing world. SPUR's recent city trip to New Orleans brought back lessons from planners, engineers, policymakers and residents who are tackling pressing challenges that were neglected for generations, yielding exciting ideas and impressive results. 

Article July 28, 2015

Not so long ago, it seemed to many that New Orleans might be done for, the first city to succumb to the existential threats of our age. But a decade after Hurricane Katrina, the Crescent City is back — and may be better than ever. What can we learn from New Orleans about what really makes a place resilient?

Blog July 28, 2015

Our report The Future of Downtown San Jose suggested that the city can bring more people and activity downtown by investing in clearer signage, more real-time information and better wayfinding. With support from the Knight Foundation, San Jose is now taking big steps to make that happen.

Blog July 20, 2015

Last week urban designer Evan Rose died at the age of 50. He leaves behind an important body of work that will continue to influence cities and the people who plan them. 

Blog July 15, 2015

Amid celebrations of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, a third important ruling was largely overlooked — one that could have a profound impact on where affordable housing is built: inner-city neighborhoods or the suburbs. Given significant research on the impact that neighborhoods have on life outcomes, the ramifications of this ruling could be profound.

Blog July 14, 2015

Throughout its nearly century-long history, the Oakland Produce Market has served as the late-night link between rural farms and urban consumers in the East Bay. The oldest American operation of its kind still using original facilities, located in one of Oakland’s oldest neighborhoods, the market is a hidden gem in the historical industrial district near Jack London Square. 

Blog July 7, 2015

There are at least 30,000 square feet of blank walls in downtown San Jose. A new nonprofit organization called the Exhibition District is hatching an ambitious plan to cover them with murals by local artists. The goal is to use public art as an economic engine that can both attract people to downtown and pay artists real wages for their work.

Blog June 29, 2015

Each day, nearly 600,000 commuters cross the bay between San Francisco and the East Bay. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a given on the Bay Bridge, and BART ridership is at peak capacity. A second transbay rail tube will be essential to solving the crunch, but it will take years, or decades, to complete. Here’s how we can break the logjam in the meantime.

Blog June 24, 2015

Last week, the California Supreme Court released a key ruling that allows cities to require new market-rate housing developments to include homes that are affordable to people with low or moderate incomes. The case that came to the court’s attention was focused on a 2010 City of San Jose ordinance, but the ruling has broader implications for cities across the state.

Blog June 4, 2015

The displacement occurring in the Mission District and elsewhere in San Francisco is indisputably tragic. But we should not be fooled into believing that passing moratoriums on new development is going to solve the city’s affordability crisis. This simply makes housing less available — and makes it likely that more people will be displaced. Here's what we should do instead.

Blog June 2, 2015

In the field of climate change policy, you might think the State of California —arguably home of the world’s most robust policies to reduce greenhouse gases — has got everything covered. And, you’re mostly right. But there’s much more we can do. A new report highlights three ways we can significantly clean up our air by making cleaner energy choices.

Blog May 7, 2015

2014 was the hottest recent year for real estate in downtown San Jose. Hundreds of residential units broke ground in new apartment towers, with several thousand more approved. While high-density housing in the transit-rich downtown is great, the city also needs to keep in mind the long-term availability of land for jobs — specifically sites that can accommodate large office buildings near future BART stations.

White Paper April 29, 2015

San Francisco is poised to channel significant new investment to integrated urban watershed planning and green infrastructure through a planning process called the Urban Watershed Assessment. In partnership with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, SPUR convened an advisory group to ask: What is needed to scale up green infrastructure in San Francisco?

SPUR Report March 31, 2015

The Bay Area’s prosperity is threatened by fragmentation in the public transit system: Riders and decision-makers contend with more than two dozen different transit operators. By integrating our many public transit services so they function more like one rational, easy-to-use network, we have the opportunity to increase transit ridership and make better planning decisions for the future of our region.

Blog March 25, 2015

The Blue Greenway project proposes a 13-mile continuous open space and waterway network along San Francisco's southeastern waterfront. The idea has enormous support, but it has yet to overcome some hurdles, namely a geography that encompasses dozens of sites with dozens of owners. To address these complications, SPUR, the San Francisco Parks Alliance and others partners have kicked off the Blue Greenway Action Plan.

Article March 23, 2015

San Francisco is exploring how accessory dwelling units, also known as in-law apartments, might augment its existing housing supply. Can this once marginal, almost completely invisible housing type help solve San Francisco’s current housing shortage?

Blog March 19, 2015

Headlines are sounding the alarm that California might have only one year of water left. How are water suppliers in the Bay Area responding to our state’s worsening drought? This week SPUR invited a few of the region’s principal water managers to share the outlook from their parts of the Bay Area.

Blog March 4, 2015 Building an iconic, future-oriented city hall in downtown San Jose was a leap toward urbanity. But to truly reap the rewards of density will require more work. Gehl Studio and the Tech Museum of Innovation partnered to survey the existing conditions of the plaza, test a series of prototypes and provide recommendations for animating the space.
Blog March 2, 2015

The Bay Area’s “innovation economy” — i.e., the high-tech sector — is thriving. Though longtime observers are right to wonder when the next crash will happen, the region’s current boom has some fundamental qualities that hint prosperity will continue. This time of expansion is an opportunity to acknowledge some of the challenges associated with economic growth.

SPUR Report February 25, 2015

It is our great pleasure to share with you our 2015 annual report, a look at how SPUR works and the approach we bring to solving urban issues. It is a celebration of city life, as well as a look at the serious challenges cities face and the work SPUR has done this year to address them.

Blog February 20, 2015

Each February, SPUR’s Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee brings together top economists and city staff to forecast what San Francisco’s economy will do in the year ahead. The expertise of independent economists and experts from key sectors — including real estate, hospitality and retail — helps the city develop revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. Here’s a look at what they see ahead.

Blog February 17, 2015

Last week the San Francisco Planning Commission adopted the 2014 Housing Element. SPUR supports the housing element, but we believe the city needs to do much more to address the housing deficit. At a time when San Francisco is experiencing growth in jobs and residents, the city is not planning, approving and building enough housing. We have five suggestions for how to get things moving.

SPUR Report February 5, 2015

One in 10 adults in the Bay Area struggle to find three meals a day, while more than half of adults are overweight or obese. To meet our basic needs, improve public health and enhance our quality of life, Bay Area residents must have access to healthy food. SPUR recommends 12 actions that local governments can take to improve food access in Bay Area communities.


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