By Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
August 22, 2011

The ballot for the upcoming November 2011 election has finally been set. After five measures dropped off, we’ve ended up with the shortest ballot in a mayoral election in at least 50 years.

By Jordan Salinger and Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
August 16, 2011

The San Francisco Bay Area is expected to grow by 1.7 million people in the next 25 years. If you’ve ever muscled your way onto an overcrowded BART train or idled at the Bay Bridge toll plaza, you may wonder how we’re going to get all these additional people back and forth across the bay. SPUR has a few ideas. Our short animated film illustrates a few simple things we can do today, as well as one big idea for the future.

SPUR's first forray into video animation enjoyed...

August 15, 2011

A grown man napping on his laptop case. Daily visits from SF mayoral candidates. Keynote addresses from the Wigg Party, MIT's SENSEable Cities Lab, the Rebar Group, and the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Cold pizza after midnight. More than a hundred adults sitting around tables on the 5th floor of a Mid-Market office building on a Friday night. This is what ground zero of the open government movement looks like.

By Micah Hilt
August 15, 2011

It came and it went, but Los Angeles as we know it did not come to a terrible end. Carmageddon — the 52-hour, 10-mile shutdown of the 405 freeway last month —passed quietly into history, becoming one of L.A.’s lightest traffic days ever.

By Casey Jung
August 11, 2011

A glimpse into biking through San Francisco debuts this week on Market Street. As part of its Public Arts program, the San Francisco Arts Commission will display its second installment of the popular Market Street poster series, which puts art in select bus shelters.

By Cole Armstrong and Micah Hilt
August 10, 2011

The Yerba Buena neighborhood already features museums, parks, an arts center and a convention center (as well as SPUR world headquarters), but starting this week there's something new to see: six new mobile parks, called “parkmobiles.” The first of their kind, the parkmobiles will be a shared resource in the community.

By Will Heywood
August 9, 2011

SPUR’s basement archive is a treasure trove of vintage planning reports and books. To make these documents available in digital format, we are daylighting the more interesting artifacts on our blog. Today’s find: Market Street Design Report Number 4, published May 9, 1966.

August 5, 2011

Across the country, cities have realized the urgent need to invest in renewable energy sources. Solar panel installations in San Francisco have grown from 551 in 2007 to more than 2,400 today, largely due to city, state and federal incentives for residents and businesses.

BY Jeffrey Tumlin
August 4, 2011

For the July issue of the Urbanist — on how to transform Market Street — we asked Jeffrey Tumlin, principal at transportation planning firm Nelson\Nygaard, to take us on a tour of Market Street's history. To learn about plans for Market Street today, read the July Urbanist.

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 26, 2011

It’d be unthinkable to ban dogs, cats, and many other types of pets in cities. But if you want to raise other types of animals (like chickens, ducks and rabbits) for their eggs or meat, you might run into a lot more regulation.

by Ben Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
July 22, 2011

On July 13, the California Coastal Commission unanimously denied a permit application from the City and County of San Francisco for coastal armoring along the Great Highway South of Sloat Boulevard. The application was submitted by the City's Department of Public Works, which is responsible for the protection of city infrastructure, including the Lake Merced Tunnel, a 14-foot diameter sewer pipe under the Great Highway.

By Noah Christman and Karen Steen
July 21, 2011

Taking down a show at the SPUR Urban Center Gallery is always a sad moment. An exhibition is one of the best ways to de-nerdify our policy research and make it accessible to a wide audience. But once it comes down from our walls, we lose that public window into our work. So when we heard about Microsoft’s Photosynth technology, we got excited. Photosynth creates a virtual environment by collaging together hundreds of very high resolution photos.

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 19, 2011

L.A.’s highly hyped “carmageddon” — the two-day closure of the 405 freeway — was not the apocalypse many feared. But it did provide a great showdown of transit alternatives.

In the starting gates were: bikes, mass transit and a plane (chartered by gimmick-savvy Jet Blue).

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 18, 2011

The stretch of 4th Street between Market Street and the Caltrain station at 4th and King Street may not be one of San Francisco’s best-known neighborhoods (at least not yet), but it’s an important area for urbanists to be thinking about. Why? Because roughly $1.5 billion will be invested in transit infrastructure here, in the form of the Central Subway. The SF Planning Department has launched a Central Corridor Study...

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 17, 2011

We are what we eat.  It’s true for people — but also for cities and regions. The food we consume and the system that produces, distributes and disposes of it are as vital to San Francisco and the Bay Area as our systems for housing, energy, water and governance. That's why SPUR has launched a new Food Systems and Urban Agriculture policy program that will strengthen both the food system within the city and the region’s network of farms and distributors.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 17, 2011

This year has been a wild one for redevelopment agencies in in California. First California voters passed Proposition 22, which prevented the state from raiding redevelopment agency funds. Then Governor Jerry Brown vowed to abolish redevelopment agencies and got fairly close to doing so. Now redevelopment agencies have once again headed to the chopping block, only this time it’s for real.

By Micah Hilt
July 12, 2011


In the history of San Francisco city planning, 2011 may go down as the year of the parklet. The idea to make streets more livable by converting parking spaces into public places debuted in SF in 2010, thanks to the city’s ...

July 11, 2011

Since President Obama launched his Open Government Directive in December 2009, tech-savvy urban thinkers have been asking, "How can technology improve government and empower communities?" Although the Open Government Initiative suffered a hit when its funding was cut from $35 million to $8 million, nonprofits around the

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 7, 2011

There's been a lot of hullabaloo about San Francisco's Mid-Market area lately, mostly focused on the new payroll tax exemption for businesses that locate in the neighborhood and the planned CityPlace Project, a major retail development, both approved by the city last September. But a gaggle of planners and economic development...

July 5, 2011
When you live in San Francisco, it can be easy to forget that your standard of living is not the norm for all Californians. Not everyone in our state has such easy access to the Pacific Ocean, cascading mountains, iconic skylines and Bluebottle Coffee.
By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
July 5, 2011

In the 1970s, we crossed a global threshold when the rate of human demand for natural resources began to outpace the rate at which nature could provide them. How do we know this? By measuring our “ecological footprint” — natural resource consumption as a function of goods and services purchased. Recently SPUR and the Global Footprint Network released a study of San Francisco's ecological footprint.

June 27, 2011
What would make a morning commute on BART a more enjoyable, engaging and productive experience? Bike repairs? Coffee and snacks? Book clubs? Short films? Spinning classes? Speed dating?
June 22, 2011

SPUR’s 31st annual Good Government Awards, held earlier this year, honored five City of San Francisco employees and teams who have performed exceptionally, becoming models for other agencies and cities around the country.

June 20, 2011
After observing aggressive and dangerous behavior by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on New York City streets, designer Ron Gabriel decided to focus his master’s thesis at the School of Visual Arts on the danger posed by a single NYC intersection.
June 20, 2011

Since the DeYoung Brothers first founded the The Daily Dramatic Chronicle in 1865, the home of San Francisco’s pioneering newspaper has been an incubator for ideas and innovation. Within a decade of its founding, the San Francisco Chronicle had the largest circulation of any newspaper west of the Mississippi River. The company has moved twice since then, and its headquarters buildings have always represented changing ideas about design and planning in the city.