Blog

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
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.

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 Liza Baskir, Oakland Project Manager
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. 

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?

November 23, 2015

2015 Silver SPUR honoree Jim Lazarus is the senior vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. A former deputy mayor and deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, he has played a key role in good government reforms in San Francisco.

November 23, 2015

Silver SPUR honoree Carol J. Galante ran BRIDGE Housing for 13 years, leading one of California’s largest affordable housing development organizations. Galante served President Obama from 2009-2014 as the Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She is now a distinguished professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy at...

November 23, 2015

Silver SPUR honoree Harlan Kelly Jr.,the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, directs a 2,300-person team to revitalize the city’s water and sewer infrastructure. His leadership in San Francisco government has spanned many departments, where he played a managerial and key civic engineering roles as San Francisco’s City Engineer. 

November 23, 2015

2015 Silver SPUR honoree Leah Shahum led the 10,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for 12 years, building it into one of the strongest advocacy groups in the city, significantly growing the citywide Bike Network and the number of people riding in the city. She is now the director of the Vision Zero Network, advocating nationally for the elimination of all traffic deaths and...

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.

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 Mark Hogan, Principal, OpenScope Studio and Kristy Wang, Community Planning Director, SPUR
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...

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
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...

By Benjamin Grant
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...

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 Director
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. 

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...

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