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Blog January 21, 2016

Listening to some San Francisco advocates, it’s easy to get the impression that the proposed Affordable Housing Bonus Program will dramatically alter the city overnight. But this ignores two key factors. First, the program has been very thoughtfully crafted to add housing without displacing anyone. Second, the length of the building cycle means these changes will happen gradually, over two decades or more.

Article January 19, 2016

The Bay Area has emerged as one of the most significant economic engines on earth. Yet some of our policy failures are limiting the region’s ability to add jobs — and causing terrible problems for its residents. We know that booms and busts are an inevitable part of capitalism, but what do we know about the longer-term fate of the Bay Area innovative economy?

Blog January 19, 2016

The Bay Area is on the cusp of the biggest change in regional planning in decades. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments have just begun a study into how they might merge. Our editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle explains why this is the right move for the region. 

Blog January 7, 2016

When San Jose adopted its general plan, Envision 2040, it signaled a major pivot toward an urban future. This year will see the first review of the plan since its adoption in 2011. Getting the plan right is key to the city’s future, and this review is a chance to do just that. Here are the big issues we need to address.

Blog January 4, 2016

For more than 100 years, SPUR has helped develop solutions to the most important issues facing the Bay Area. Now we are expanding our community and our work in Oakland — and we need your help. With our beautiful new space at 1544 Broadway, SPUR will create a community-oriented place where Oakland residents can come together to envision the future of their city. 

Blog December 18, 2015

Both Caltrain and highways on the Bay Area Peninsula are more crowded than ever. Will we solve the area’s transportation challenges in the future — or will things only get worse? SPUR is working with a group of partners to shape a vision for the Peninsula travel corridor. We believe passenger rail and other transit can be the backbone of the solution.

Blog December 18, 2015

Over the last decade and a half, San Jose’s budget has been on an economic rollercoaster. Two recessions, budget deficits, lay-offs and service cuts have all plagued the largest city in the Bay Area. SPUR has been exploring some of the factors that have affected San Jose’s fiscal position, as well as analyzing it's performance compared to other cities in Santa Clara County and California. 

Blog December 16, 2015

In 2012, the voters of San Francisco passed Proposition C, a consensus measure that created a $1.2 billion set-aside for affordable housing while also reducing the on-site inclusionary housing requirement, which obliges developers of market-rate housing to build some affordable units on the same site. Now some city leaders are revisiting whether the measure asked enough from developers.

Blog December 9, 2015

2015 has been a significant year for SPUR. We officially became a regional organization, with offices in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. By helping to coordinate policy and planning work across the region, we can make much greater progress on our goals. But we can't do it without your help. We hope you'll consider making a contribution to SPUR at this year end. 

Blog December 3, 2015

The BART Silicon Valley extension is the largest transportation investment the South Bay will make for decades. Phase I of the extension is under construction and scheduled to start service in the fall of 2017. Now the Santa Clara VTA and many others must answer the question: Where will the money for Phase II come from?

Article November 10, 2015

SPUR examines the zoning code in San Jose and other West Coast cities with the goal of identifying opportunities for San Jose to up its urban design game.

Blog November 5, 2015

The November 2 election was an encouraging sign that San Franciscans are aligned behind one of the key solutions to our affordability crisis: build more housing.

Blog November 3, 2015

Last November, the City of Berkeley made the news — and history — by becoming the first U.S city to pass a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. Measure D was a significant victory for supporters, winning with 76 percent of the vote despite huge opposition from the American Beverage Association. Now that the tax has been in place since March, researchers are beginning to assess its impact. 

Blog October 28, 2015

The Bay Area Peninsula faces serious transportation challenges. But it wasn’t always jammed with cars. In fact, the Peninsula grew up around rail, in compact and walkable communities. Is this legacy enough to make rail a thriving transportation option for the corridor in the future? In advance of a major SPUR project addressing these issues, we take a look at the history of Peninsula transportation. 

Blog October 27, 2015

Many of the Bay Area's difficulties result from our fragmented system of governance. But this week, there’s an opportunity to help move that system in another direction. On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will vote on whether to combine its planning staff with that of the Association of Bay Area Governments. We think this is the right move for the future of the Bay Area.

Blog October 26, 2015

Have you ever walked down a San Francisco street  and wondered, "Why aren’t these buildings taller?" If we’re in a housing shortage, why don’t we have six-, ten- and twelve-story residential buildings throughout the city? San Francisco is trying to change this with the Affordable Housing Bonus Program, a proposal to allow an increase in height and allowable density in exchange for building affordable housing.

Blog October 26, 2015

San Francisco just upped the ante on what building owners and developers can do to reduce our water deficit (and likely, their own water bills). Changes to the city’s nonpotable water program, approved this month, will provide grant funding for existing buildings to install onsite water treatment and reuse systems — and for buildings to connect to each other and recycle water as a district.

Blog October 21, 2015

The Ocean Beach Master Plan could face a major test this winter if predictions of El-Nino-driven storms come to pass. In previous storm seasons, San Francisco used large piles of boulders to armor the beach, but this degrades beach access and can even accelerate erosion. Based on recommendations from the master plan, the city is looking to weather the coming winter with less intrusive measures.

Blog October 15, 2015

In our report The Future of Downtown San Jose, we suggested that the city can bring more people and activity downtown by providing better wayfinding signage and other tools. Since the spring, San Jose’s Office of Economic Development has been working with City ID to lay the groundwork for a permanent wayfinding program downtown. Here’s a preview of where they’re headed. 

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. 

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