Blog

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
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.

By María Gabriela Huertas Díaz
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.

December 3, 2013

Now is a perfect time to take stock of all the great things that have happened this year, with your help. We hope you will consider making a contribution to SPUR at this year end. Here’s how you can help.

By Michael King and Jeffrey Tumlin
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.

By Egon Terplan and Sara Tiller
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.

By María Gabriela Huertas Díaz
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.

by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
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.

by María Gabriela Huertas Díaz
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.

By Allison Arieff, SPUR Content Strategist
June 18, 2013

We’re often asked for recommended reading on urban planning and policy. It’s the sort of request we love, but it’s hard to commit to a manageable number of titles.

By Egon Terplan and Tony Vi
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.

By Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director
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.

By Egon Terplan and Ethan Lavine
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.

By Molly Schremmer
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. 

By Benjamin Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
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.

By Leah Toeniskoetter, SPUR San Jose Director
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.
 

By Jennifer Warburg
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.

by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
November 19, 2012

Southern Santa Clara County used to have a widespread and thriving agricultural sector, helping the area earn the name “Valley of the Heart’s Delight.”  Today, much of that famed farmland has been replaced with homes and offices.

November 5, 2012

The Fall 2012 issue of Content magazine highlights SPUR’s recent expansion to San Jose in a terrific profile of our San Jose director, Leah Toeniskoetter. A passionate cyclist and former Peace Corps volunteer with a background in real estate development, Toeniskoetter is pleased with the work that's been accomplished over the past year and is excited for what's ahead.

By Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
October 18, 2012

Three California cities have filed for bankruptcy protection since June. Since 2008, local governments in California have shrunk by nearly 190,000 employees and property values over the same period declined by 21.3 percent. What comes next? The Institute for Government Studies at the University of California at Berkeley convened an impressive panel of experts last month to move that debate forward.

By Benjamin Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
October 2, 2012

SPUR’s San Jose office is convening a task force of city officials and planning and development thought leaders to tackle a vexing question: How can the nation’s tenth largest city transform its historically suburban built environment into one that supports an active street life, greater use of transit and a stronger urban fabric?

September 4, 2012

A cadre of 45 urbanists gathered downtown on a recent Sunday morning to join SPUR San Jose Director Leah Toeniskoetter for a bike tour. Beginning in the urban plaza fronting Philz Coffee, our mighty bike train easily navigated its way along the brand new buffered bike lanes of Third Street, en route to Japantown.

By Leah Toeniskoetter, SPUR San Jose Director
August 9, 2012

In January 2010, San Jose passed an inclusionary housing law to help do three things: address the city’s affordable housing needs, meet the state’s requirement for regional fair share housing and promote economic integration. But now a successful legal suit has thrown the future of this law into question.

By Leah Toeniskoetter, SPUR San Jose Director
July 9, 2012

Word of a big win for Silicon Valley came July 2 from the U.S. Commerce Department. For the first time in its history, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will open four offices outside of Virginia, and the western region office will be located in Silicon Valley.

By Leah Toeniskoetter, SPUR San Jose Director
June 26, 2012

Many downtown areas have policies in place that restrict ground-floor storefronts for walk-in businesses such as retail, restaurants and entertainment. The idea is to encourage people to continue exploring (and hopefully shopping) on foot. But in an economic downturn, when retail stores may remain vacant for years, dark storefronts can create dead spaces of their own, further challenging the success of surviving retail tenants.

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
April 24, 2012

Earlier this spring, high-speed rail in California took two very significant steps. First Bay Area leaders announced a plan to electrify Caltrain, which would make it possible for Caltrain and high-speed rail to share the same tracks between San Jose and San Francisco. Second the California High-Speed Rail Authority released an updated business plan that cuts the cost of the train system by a third. While these important steps will move the project forward, there are major unresolved...

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