Blog

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
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. 

By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
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...

By Ratna Amin and Graham Pugh
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.

By Sarah Jo Szambelan and Egon Terplan
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. 

By Sarah Karlinsky, Senior Policy Advisor
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.

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. 

Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
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?

By Susannah Parsons
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,...

By Ratna Amin and Graham Pugh
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. 

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.

By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
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. 

By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
October 5, 2015

This fall, multiple jurisdictions, including Santa Clara County and Sacramento, have followed San Francisco’s model and created urban agriculture incentive zones of their own or have taken official steps toward doing so.

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
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. ​

By Veronica Tien
August 11, 2015

Thanks to the threat of sea level rise, prolonged drought and the possibility of natural disaster brought on by climate change, the Bay Area could soon face devastating damage. How can we get ready for climate change before disaster strikes? SPUR invited designers and city planners to discuss lessons learned from the Rebuild By Design competition that helped revitalize the Northeast Coast after Hurricane...

By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
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.

By Alyssa Kies
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.

By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
June 30, 2015

Healthy food incentive programs — which provide low-income families with matching dollars to buy fruits and vegetables — have been gaining traction in policy circles recently. Why the increased attention? Because these programs work. Expanding them in California would significantly improve healthy food access.

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
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.

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
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.

By Egon Terplan and Laura Tolkoff
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.

By Dylan Pilaar
April 30, 2015

Silicon Valley’s El Camino Real caters almost exclusively to private automobiles, but a recent decision from the Mountain View City Council may shift the boulevard’s car-first status quo. Last week, city leaders voted 3-2 in support of dedicated lanes for the El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit project. 

By Dylan Pilaar
April 23, 2015

Great design can transform and enhance any user experience. Why, then, is thoughtful design often ignored within our transit systems? SPUR recently held a day of workshops and presentations, sponsored by TransitCenter, to explore the future of design and public transportation.

By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
Market Match being used at a farmers' market.  Courtesy of the Ecology Center.
April 6, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture just gave a big shot in the arm to healthy food incentive programs. On April 1, the agency announced $31 million in grants to groups large and small — including three recipients in California — that provide matching dollars to low-income families who use their food assistance benefits to buy fruits and vegetables.

by Alyssa Kies
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.
By Egon Terplan and Kathryn Mullins
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.

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