Blog

By Gabriel Metcalf, President
November 10, 2014

Regardless of what happened at the national level, our local elections were full of good news for urbanism. Ballot measures that passed in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland marked major victories for transit, open space and higher minimum wages across the region.

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
November 5, 2014

Persistent poverty and income inequality are challenging issues to address. Job growth exists primarily at the top and bottom end of the labor market, and the share of employment in the middle is declining. The Bay Area Economic Prosperity Strategy is a region-wide plan to improve opportunities for the 1.1 million workers who earn less than $18 per hour. 

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
November 5, 2014

The past and future growth of the local food economy, and all the benefits it provides to the Bay Area, depend on the food and beverage manufactures and distributors who often operate behind-the-scenes. Recognizing this, SPUR partnered with the San Francisco Planning Department and Office of Economic and Workforce Development to develop recommendations for how the city can better support these businesses.

By Ratna Amin with Ritu Garg and Dan Feeney
October 29, 2014

The re-envisioning of San Francisco’s streets has been ongoing for more than four decades now, but there is still much work to do. Here are five reasons why the city's pioneering 1973 Transit First policy is more relevant than ever.

by Jeff Vincent and Ratna Amin
October 21, 2014

Questions about the family friendliness of cities are bubbling up all over. At a recent SPUR forum, UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools shared the risks of ignoring kids and schools when planning cities — and the lessons learned about planning for successful family-oriented communities and high-quality schools.

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
October 21, 2014

In cities like San Francisco, where housing is expensive and the market is competitive, emotional reactions can inform the policy debate. Is San Francisco’s housing supply being taken up by people who own units they don’t live in? Our study, Non-Primary Residences and San Francisco’s Housing Market takes an...

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
October 9, 2014

This November, after years of intense stakeholder negotiations, Proposition 1 — the latest in a decade-long series of state water bonds — will be decided by California voters. This $7.5 billion general obligation bond would fund water supply, ecosystems, water quality, groundwater cleanup, conservation, recycling and reuse. SPUR takes a look at the details of this complicated, and controversial, ballot measure.

By Jennifer Warburg
October 9, 2014

Last week’s UN Climate Summit saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, 125 heads of state and hundreds of business leaders converge on New York City for the most encouraging movement on climate action in years. For a movement that often stalls out in pessimism and fatigue, these events represented a surprising shift of tone — and a few reasons for hope.

By Flavio Coppola
October 1, 2014

California’s landmark environmental bill AB 32 mandated a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The policies it set in place have worked, and the state is on track to meet its goal. But what happens after 2020? With this target date less than six years away, it’s time to set a new objective for continued success in reducing emissions.

October 1, 2014

It's election season and time for SPUR's in-depth analysis of local San Francisco ballot measures. Don't want to wade through our 30-page voter guide? Check out this quick summary of all our recommendations. For those who do want to nerd out, don't worry — we've included links to our complete analysis.

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
September 9, 2014

A recent article in the Atlantic argues that San Francisco’s new urban agriculture property tax incentive will only exacerbate the problem of limited housing supply in an already overheated housing market. We share the author's concern about housing affordability, but his critique of this policy, which SPUR worked to pass, misses the mark.

By Libby Nachman and Ratna Amin
August 27, 2014

Is the transportation always greener on the other side of the fence? Helsinki, Finland, recently announced a plan for a transit system that would make car ownership a thing of the past within the next 10 years. SPUR examines how the Bay Area could take inspiration from this integrated, single-payment, mobility-on-demand system.

By Libby Nachman
August 7, 2014

How can we get past stagnant partisan arguments about climate change and begin looking at its impact on economic planning and investment? Kate Gordon of Next Generation presented this question at a SPUR lunchtime forum on the Risky Business Project, a nonpartisan effort to quantify and publicize the economic risks from climate change impacts.

By Benjamin Schneider
August 6, 2014

No one in San Francisco is arguing about whether real estate is expensive. There is, however, some debate about how to characterize the astronomical prices. Now that median home values have returned to pre-recession highs, some are compelled to ask: Are we in another housing bubble? Real estate experts Jed Kolko and Tim Cornwell spoke to this question at a recent SPUR forum....

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
August 5, 2014

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has passed California’s first urban agriculture incentive zone. The new law allows a tax break for SF property owners who dedicate their land to agricultural use for at least five years. The final legislation included a few important amendments.

By Flavio Coppola
July 24, 2014

In June, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case concerning whether California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard program discriminated against fuels produced out of state, allowing the program to continue functioning unhindered. The decision received little media attention, but it is crucially important for California’s climate action goals. SPUR explores the impact of this poorly understood policy on the state’s climate goals and the fuel industry.

By Alyssa Kies
July 24, 2014

Despite more than $1 billion in capital investments on Highway 101 over the past 20 years, the connection between San Francisco and Silicon Valley still has some of the worst traffic delays in the Bay Area. Alleviating traffic on 101 will require viable alternatives to driving through both  transportation and land use changes. SPUR proposes a three-pronged approach to managing growth in the corridor.

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
July 23, 2014

Our state and region are booming. After dropping from the world’s fifth largest economy to its 10th, the state has risen back up to eighth place. But challenges remain. Housing costs are soaring, unemployment remains high and few middle-wage jobs exist. The Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy shares new economic data about the region and state.

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

San Francisco is once again poised to be a pioneer in urban agriculture policy. In June, Supervisor David Chiu introduced an ordinance that create California's first urban agriculture incentive zone and allow property owners who contract their land into urban agricultural use for at least five years to receive a property tax reduction

By Libby Nachman and Ratna Amin
June 26, 2014

Why is it taking so long to retrofit our car-oriented cities to make them more walkable and bikeable? In part, it’s because of an antiquated engineering concept called “auto level of service” or LOS. Here’s how LOS came to control our built environment — and what the State of California is doing to release the hold this little-known metric has had on our cities.

By Maria Bakali and Benjamin Grant
June 25, 2014

SPUR is leading a transportation study at Ocean Beach to further develop the access and circulation recommendations of the Ocean Beach Master Plan. The transportation design team has proposed a new solution for Skyline Boulevard: a series of well designed modern roundabouts.

By Julienne Christensen
May 28, 2014

The Central Subway extension of the T-Third light rail to Chinatown doesn’t include a plan for future service to North Beach or the neighborhoods beyond. A community-led movement is ensuring the proper evaluation of the light rail extension. Residential, commercial, transit and tourist hubs are heavily concentrated on the eastern side of the city, yet not enough fast and reliable transit connections exist between them.

By Ben Tripousis and Boris Lipkin
May 20, 2014

California's high-speed rail project, which will connect Los Angeles to San Francisco in under three hours, is making progress on numerous fronts. There are updates surrounding the project's construction, routes, funding, lawsuits and new business plan.

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
May 6, 2014

Between 2013 and 2020, California will earn between $12 billion and $45 billion in cap-and-trade revenue. The state has already received hundreds of millions of dollars from auction revenues over the last 18 months, with that number poised to be in the billions annually within a few years. Now the state needs to decide: How will the money be spent?

Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Fort Mason Community Garden. Photo courtesy of Flickr user greychr
May 5, 2014

After many months of planning, San Francisco’s new urban agriculture program launched in January. The program, designed to coordinate and increase the city’s support for city farmers and gardeners, recently released details about its first year priorities.

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