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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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 2, 2013

One of the biggest challenges urban farmers face is access to land. Signed into law on September 28, the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act — introduced by Assembly Member Phil Ting and supported by more than 25 organizations across the state — will increase the use of privately owned, vacant land for urban agriculture and improve land security for urban ag projects.

Article August 12, 2013

Today, Silicon Valley receives the country’s largest share of venture capital investment — but New York may be catching up. It’s not official economic development strategies that should worry the Bay Area. More important are the underlying fundamentals supporting New York City’s growth: its ability to attract talent, its urbanity and its existing industry mix.

Blog August 7, 2013

The San Jose Flea Market hosts one of the country’s most extensive collections of items for sale, building upon San Jose’s legacy as a city of many people and cultures. The flea market opened in 1960 with 20 vendors brought together by George Bumb, a man with a vision to sell usable items that he saw being sent to landfills. Since then it has grown to become the largest continuous flea market in the nation, welcoming 4 million visitors a year.

Blog June 18, 2013

In the past few years, there's been a lot of attention on income inequality and the shrinking middle class, particularly as job growth nationally has remained sluggish. Despite an economic boom in the Bay Area, many workers are still struggling. SPUR is part of a new initiative to identify ways we can increase economic opportunity at the local and regional level.

Blog June 17, 2013

Bus rapid transit (BRT) projects can be transformative, as we have learned from cities like Cleveland in the U.S. and global examples like Mexico City. But making space on streets for travel modes other than the car is a challenge for cities and transit operators around the world. The Bay Area has five BRT projects in development today, and each has met with difficulty and delays.

Policy Letter May 16, 2013

We believe Plan Bay Area is an important step forward in comprehensive regional planning in the Bay Area. While there still remains a gap between our vision of a more concentrated region and the actual tools to achieve it, Plan Bay Area contributes to the best practice of integrating land use planning with transportation funding and decisions.

Blog April 29, 2013

SPUR has written several times about the development of Plan Bay Area since the planning process was kicked off a few years ago. Last month, the draft of the plan was finally released. What are the highlights in this 158-page plan and the accompanying 1,300-page environmental impact report? This post provides a summary of the draft and some of its key points.

Article April 4, 2013

Facing competition from nearby hubs scattered throughout Silicon Valley, downtown San Jose was one of the country’s largest — and longest running — revitalization projects. Reining in the suburban sprawl and refocusing energy downtown is the impetus for the city’s next chapter.

Blog March 25, 2013

After a number of delays, the wheels are finally turning on a bike-sharing program for the Bay Area. Earlier this month, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) signed a contract with Alta Bike Share, which runs successful programs in Washington, D.C., and Boston. 

SPUR Report March 18, 2013

More than two-thirds of the Bay Area’s water is imported from outside the region. Today these supplies are regularly threatened by drought, earthquakes and water quality impairments — risks that will intensify with climate change. Meanwhile, our region will add 2 million more people by 2040 — growth that will require more water. Do we have the water we need to support this projected growth?

Blog March 11, 2013

How do we create the kinds of compact, walkable environments that can have a real impact on car use and carbon emissions? SPUR San Jose’s Urban Design Task Force is working to foster well-designed new development that will support the city’s 2040 General Plan goals of a more walkable, livable and transit-friendly built environment.

Blog March 5, 2013

An enthusiastic group of 45 urbanists on bikes kicked off a crisp Sunday morning to tour a few of San Jose’s historic neighborhoods with SPUR. Using the new bike lanes on 10th and 11th streets, along with a number of established bike routes and separated bike paths, we wove our way through three amazing gems — Naglee Park, Palm Haven and Willow Glen. Setting off from the San Jose State University campus downtown, we made our way to our first stop.
 

Blog February 18, 2013

The Bay Area economy has rebounded from the recession. Yet major regional challenges threaten our continued prosperity. At the 2013 State of Silicon Valley conference, SPUR made the case that some of the biggest threats to the Bay Area’s long-term economic competitiveness are challenges best addressed through better regional governance.

SPUR Report February 6, 2013

When a major earthquake strikes the Bay Area, it could take months to reestablish essential services and years to rebuild. Good land use planning will be crucial to a successful recovery. If we make needed regulatory changes now, we will have the tools we need to rebuild our cities, and our region, after the earthquake strikes.

Article December 18, 2012 When Google proposed a new vision for retrofitting its Mountain View campus as a dense and walkable urban place, the city embraced the plan in its updated general plan — but balked at Google’s request to include housing. Increasingly, we are seeing expressions of the urban future of work through specific proposals by companies interested in retrofitting the suburban corporate campus rather than moving into cities.

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