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THE LATEST FROM SPUR

Article April 10, 2014

Climate change is not just a problem of the distant future — it's happening now. Our task, then, is contradictory: We need to fight it even as we to learn to live with it. But can we act decisively enough to avert catastrophe?

Article April 10, 2014

Dozens of efforts are underway in the Bay Area to assess vulnerability to sea level rise, map critical infrastructure, plan to reduce emissions, restore wetlands and work across local government functions to knit together a plan of action. Here are just a few of the many of these efforts that stand out.

Blog April 9, 2014

Regional transit projects planned for San Jose's Diridon Station could make it one of the Bay Area’s most important transit and development hubs — if the area around it is planned well. The city has released a draft version of its Diridon Station Area Plan, which will shape the future of the area. SPUR has reviewed the plan and made a number of important recommendations.

Blog April 7, 2014

Across California, communities have started food policy councils so that local advocates for food producers and consumers can work together to improve the food system. Earlier this year, a coalition of these groups published an analysis of legislators’ voting records on 10 different food and agriculture bills.

SPUR Report March 17, 2014

Downtown San Jose is the densest, most walkable, most transit-oriented and most dynamic place in the South Bay. It’s now poised to benefit from the growing trend toward working and living in urban centers. But downtown needs more people. This SPUR report identifies six big ideas for achieving a more successful and active downtown, then lays out the steps for making them happen.

SPUR Report March 12, 2014

SPUR’s Agenda for Change represents our vision for the central cities of the Bay Area. It condenses the big ideas behind our work and lays out our plan for making this vision a reality.

Blog March 2, 2014

Despite the inches of rain that fell in February, California’s farmers and ranchers are still facing a severe drought. Mother Jones magazine recently published an infographic that clearly illustrates the link between the lack of rain and the state’s agricultural economy. What it conveys is that this is going to be a hard year for farmers and ranchers in California, with nationwide ripple effects.

Blog February 27, 2014

Earlier this month, San Francisco’s leading economists met to predict the future. Each year, SPUR’s Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee brings together city staff and independent economic experts from sectors including real estate, hospitality and retail. This year’s Annual Economic Briefing illuminated several key economic trends impacting the city this year.

Blog February 21, 2014

Why not address the Bay Area’s housing crisis — caused by a surge of new jobs without an equivalent increase in new housing — at its source? Alfred Twu’s fantastical renderings imagine Silicon Valley corporate campuses like Google, Apple and Facebook as complete cities, their parking lots packed with enough housing to accommodate their entire workforces.

Blog February 20, 2014

A few billion dollars of transportation projects are converging in San Francisco: the electrification of Caltrain, the extension of Caltrain’s route to the Transbay Transit Center and the arrival of high-speed rail. How can we make sure these transportation investments improve San Francisco's urban environment rather than disrupt it? To find out, the city is launching a major study.

Policy Letter February 13, 2014

SPUR supports the broad outlines of the City of San Jose's draft Diridon Station Area Plan. We do, however, think that the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report does not provide sufficient analysis of some of the project impacts and recommend specific areas that should be corrected, modified or further studied.

Article February 11, 2014

San Francisco is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. This issue of The Urbanist takes a look at practical solutions we can begin to implement now. Excerpted from a policy proposal, these are SPUR’s best ideas for tackling this problem together, as a city, through far-reaching changes to housing policies.

Blog January 30, 2014

From President Obama’s State of the Union speech to local policy initiatives, there’s been a lot of attention lately on wage inequality and the shrinking middle class. As part of a major SPUR initiative, a group of Bay Area pilot projects will tackle these issues head on.

Canned goods being delivered at a food bank
Blog January 28, 2014

While San Francisco is a city that celebrates food, it's also home to many who struggle to get three complete meals a day. Between 100,000 and 225,000 residents have incomes that put them at risk of food insecurity. Two new reports show that even with collaboration among government agencies, nonprofits and the private sector, there are still many hurdles to overcome in addressing food insecurity.

Blog January 15, 2014

2013 was one of the driest years on record, and 2014 is not off to a great start either. As we head into a third dry year, water conservation is more important than ever — and so is preparing for future uncertainty in our water supply by investing in reliable, sustainable supplies, as recommended in SPUR's report Future-Proof Water.

Article December 17, 2013

From The Year in Urbanism: When BART went on strike twice in 2013, the Bay Area learned just how dependent it is on a functioning transit system. How do we make sure BART continues to expand to handle more riders as the region grows — and how do we make sure strikes don’t happen in the future?

Article December 17, 2013

From The Year in Urbanism: In 2013, housing prices exploded in San Francisco while lagging at pre-recession levels in other parts of the region. Could some of the demand for the hottest markets be met by other, more affordable locations that are well served by regional transit?

SPUR Report December 12, 2013

The City of San Jose's ambitious new General Plan imagines a dramatic shift away from traditional suburban landscapes to “complete neighborhoods” that provide basic services and amenities close to homes, jobs and transit. Achieving this transformation will be a daunting challenge. SPUR diagnoses the impediments San Jose faces in creating excellent, walkable urban places and recommends changes in policy and practice to get there.

Blog December 11, 2013

Two big lease deals in downtown San Jose indicate that the city center’s underappreciated assets may be proving attractive to those seeking more urban workplaces in Silicon Valley. Why did these two tenants choose downtown over other nearby competitors? Four reasons: access to transit, urban amenities, real estate costs and a responsive government.

Blog December 2, 2013

San Francisco’s school meals could look quite a bit different in the coming years. That’s the overarching theme of a report that the San Francisco Unified School District released in September, laying out a long-term vision for the future of the district's school meals program, which currently serves 22,000 lunches and 5,500 breakfasts each day.

Article November 17, 2013

Silicon Valley, the most dynamic and innovative economic engine in the world, is not creating memorable urban places. The City of San Jose's ambitious new General Plan imagines a dramatic shift away from traditional suburban environments to walkable “complete neighborhoods.” SPUR looks at the impediments San Jose has faced in creating excellent, walkable urban places and recommends changes that will help meet the city's goals.

Blog November 13, 2013

Streets are different than highways, yet the United States delegates authority for all roadway design to a private nonprofit made up largely of highway engineers. And unfortunately, many of the principles that make for safe highways make for dangerous, dysfunctional urban streets. But a new manual released this fall, the Urban Street Design Guide, could change all this.

SPUR 2012-2013 Annual Report
SPUR Report November 13, 2013

The majority of the world’s population now resides in cities. This presents great challenges — and great opportunities for making a better world. Our annual report explores the potential of cities to solve the problems of our time. We invite you to learn more about the work we did this year in support of this vision.

Blog November 5, 2013

A little over one-third of the Bay Area workforce earns $18 per hour or less. Given the high cost of living in the Bay Area, it’s important to move many of these workers to higher paying jobs. This posts looks at what these jobs are, how many of them there will be in the coming years, and the skills and education levels they require.

Blog October 29, 2013

Many middle-income jobs have been lost since the economic meltdown and the competition for the jobs that remain leave low- and moderate-wage workers competing with people who have more experience and education. In this post, we focus on specific barriers affecting low- and moderate-wage workers.

Blog October 29, 2013

After a grueling recession and a long period of underbuilding, construction is making a vigorous comeback in San Francisco: The SF Planning Department reports more than 6,000 new units under construction. The backlash, however, comes in the form of rising rents— exacerbating unaffordability in what was already one of the country's least affordable cities.

Blog October 28, 2013

Middle-wage jobs are becoming scarcer as more and more job growth takes place at the high and low ends of the wage spectrum. How can we create opportunity for low-wage workers to move up? Past efforts to address this issue have sometimes emphasized the differences between workers in different wage groups. But this often masks the specific information needed to solve the challenge.

SPUR Memorandum October 21, 2013

Many cities around the world have incentives and even regulations requiring green roofs in new construction. San Francisco lags substantially behind others such as Portland, New York, Chicago and Toronto in both green roof policy and in on-the-roof implementation. This memo asks what can be done to support the development and broader implementation of green roofs in San Francisco. 

Blog October 17, 2013

The No. 1 crisis facing San Francisco today is the skyrocketing cost of housing. As high prices push people out, the City of Oakland faces a wave of new arrivals — and new challenges. Here's how we got into this situation, and what we can do about it. 

Blog October 10, 2013

Since rolling out on August 29, Bay Area Bike Share has logged an estimated 21,138 bicycle trips and 4,380 casual members. Not bad for a pilot program.  But in order for it to last — and grow — it’s important to ask how we can translate this initial success into a long-term one. The future of the program faces two immediate issues: how to fund it and how to make it work at its unique regional scale.

Blog October 8, 2013

Climate scientists have raised concerns that the latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is "too conservative," referring to its lowered projections on the range of future warming based on a slight lack of temperature increase over the last decade. Despite this possibly encouraging bit of news, the IPCC's fifth major assessment continues to report unequivocal warming due to human causes. 

Blog October 4, 2013

Earlier this year a new ordinance requiring energy audits for existing commercial buildings in San Francisco went into effect. The audits identify upgrades a property owner can make to improve overall building efficiency. So far, the first 195 building audits have identified 32 gigawatt-hours of potential annual energy savings, with a value of $6 million. With thousands more audits slated to happen over the next two years, what kind of savings might we expect to see from this simple reporting requirement?

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