Blog

By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
Garden to Table's Taylor Street Farm in San Jose.
February 25, 2015

The idea of urban agriculture incentive zones has begun to spread within California. On February 10, both the City of Sacramento and Santa Clara County took official steps toward creating zones that would allow landowners to receive a property tax reduction in exchange for committing their land to urban gardening or farming for at least five years.

By Jennifer Warburg
February 20, 2015

Each February, SPUR’s Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee brings together top economists and city staff to forecast what San Francisco’s economy will do in the year ahead. The expertise of independent economists and experts from key sectors — including real estate, hospitality and retail — helps the city develop revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. Here’s a look at what they see ahead.

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
February 17, 2015

Last week the San Francisco Planning Commission adopted the 2014 Housing Element. SPUR supports the housing element, but we believe the city needs to do much more to address the housing deficit. At a time when San Francisco is experiencing growth in jobs and residents, the city is not planning, approving and building enough housing. We have five suggestions for how to get things moving.

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
January 26, 2015

Long before the current housing crisis, SPUR and partners like the SF Housing Action Coalition and Livable City advocated for better planning codes and practices in San Francisco. Paying attention to code may not be as headline-grabbing as placing a measure on the ballot, but it’s a key factor in shaping a city’s development — and San Francisco has made some significant updates recently.

By Kathryn Mullins, SPUR intern
January 22, 2015

Oakland’s Lake Merritt is one of our grandest and most beloved examples of great public space, unique in the region and deeply embedded in its community. And after a decade of thoughtful reinvestment, it is thriving.

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
January 20, 2015

In his fourth inaugural address, Governor Jerry Brown gave climate hawks cause to celebrate the new year by proposing an ambitious energy policy agenda that will keep California at the forefront of fighting global warming for more than a decade. Brown called for 50 percent of California’s electricity to come from renewable sources by...

By Ben Grant, SPUR Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
January 14, 2015

South of Lake Merritt, a challenging urban environment belies a wealth of assets and amenities that could form the raw material of a welcoming, integrated cultural district. SPUR has been engaged in discussions with the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) and its neighbors about ways to shift community experience and perception of the area. 

By Allison Arieff, SPUR Editorial Director
January 9, 2015

It seems everyone’s abuzz about Pop-Ups these days: those retail businesses that appear suddenly, operate for a day or two—sometimes for weeks—and then disappear. Pop-ups are temporary by definition, but they can have longer-term impacts on communities. That’s becoming quite evident in Oakland, where pop-ups have proven to be a tool in the work of downtown revitalization.

By Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director
December 19, 2014

It makes sense for Silicon Valley to have ambitions for world-class transit and great urban places. That’s why extending BART service to the South Bay has been an aspiration for a generation leaders. But getting the next project phase funded has stirred up strong feelings — and provided a reminder of all we need to keep in mind when making decisions about infrastructure investments.

By Julienne Christensen
December 17, 2014

The case for extending San Francisco’s Central Subway project to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf got a boost in late November with the release of a new study. The new data will allow the extension to be ranked relative to other transit projects — a necessary step for it to be approved as an addition to the city’s transit system.

By Magda Maaoui, SPUR intern and Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
December 15, 2014

For 77 years, the 58,000 tons of steel in the Bay Bridge’s eastern span formed a vital link between Oakland and San Francisco. Now, thanks to the passion of local artists, a significant portion of former Bay Bridge steel will be reincarnated as large-scale public art.  

By Egon Terplan and Jennifer Warburg
December 12, 2014

In November, planning officials from San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland met to share their progress in implementing Plan Bay Area, the region's long-range vision for transportation and land use planning. How these cities manage future growth will have ramifications for the entire region.

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
December 10, 2014

After years of legal and financial delays, San Francisco’s three biggest residential projects have taken steps toward becoming reality. Together, they make up most of the proposed housing units in the city’s construction pipelineThe first 88 units at the Hunters Point Shipyard are nearing the end of construction, while ...

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
December 7, 2014

The City of Oakland recently made it easier for urban farmers and gardeners to start new projects. On November 18, the City Council unanimously approved changes to the city planning code that clarifies what types of urban agriculture are allowed in each part of the city and expanded the areas where residents can cultivate crops and produce honey. 

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
December 3, 2014

Silicon Valley has become one of the most expensive housing markets nationwide, and funding for affordable housing in Santa Clara County has been steadily decreasing or stagnating. Last month the San Jose City Council...

By Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
December 3, 2014

When it comes to weighing city policy priorities, parks have historically come up short on the ability to demonstrate their economic value. But San Francisco's open spaces and recreational opportunities are actually worth about $1 billion per year, according to a new report from the Trust for Public Land and the SF Parks Alliance.

December 3, 2014

2014 has been a great year for urbanism. Now is a perfect time to take stock of all we accomplished, with your support. We hope you will consider making a contribution to SPUR at this year end. Here’s what we'll be working on in the new year — and how you can help.

By Erin McAuliff
November 25, 2014

More than half of commuters in the Bay Area drive alone to work every day. Similar to most regions, transportation in the Bay Area is the largest source of pollution...

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Yes on D Sign from Berkeley
November 25, 2014

This election, for the first time ever, a majority of voters in two American cities supported taxing sugar-sweetened beverages. Berkeley voters passed their measure, while San Francisco's measure, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, fell short.  The results raise the question: why did Berkeley’s measure do so much better than San Francisco’s? A number of factors were at play.

November 24, 2014

Leslie is a co-founder of the successful Union Square Investment Company with her husband, Alexander H. Schilling. She has been active in many civic and advisory groups that aid small business owners and woman- and Asian-owned businesses, most notably the Asian Business League of San Francisco, the San Francisco Economic Development Corp. and the State of California Small Business Advisory Board.

November 24, 2014

Clothilde Hewlett is an attorney who has achieved an incredible breadth of accomplishments during a career that has spanned statewide policy roles in government, law enforcement and criminal justice. Now, as a public policy attorney with Nossaman LLP, she facilitates public-private partnerships in transportation, infrastructure, clean technology and real estate.

November 24, 2014

Michael Painter is owner/president of MPA Design and has offered design development strategies and solutions for award-winning projects since 1969. Over MPA Design’s 45-year history, his urban designs have won accolades from the American Society of Landscape...

November 24, 2014

Ron Kaufman worked for half a century to preserve the historic character of one of San Francisco's oldest neighborhoods, the Old North Waterfront. He has been a vital force in the business and philanthropic community. Barbara Kaufman hosted Call for Action, a top-rated consumer advocacy radio show on KCBS-AM. This role led her to win a citywide seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. 

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
November 12, 2014

From a regional perspective, there’s one pretty clear outcome of the recent election: Smart growth and infill development won at the ballot box. Across half a dozen measures, Bay Area voters rejected NIMBY-led downzoning, approved height increases in their downtowns, reaffirmed urban growth boundaries and voted against sprawl development.

By Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
November 10, 2014

Knight Foundation’s support for SPUR’s new office in San Jose — a $1.775 million challenge grant over five years — will help catalyze the civic conversation around the city’s urban future. The funding provides a runway as SPUR builds capacity to be the leading civic partner for the City of San Jose as it undertakes the most ambitious growth plan of any American city.

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