Blog

by Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director
October 17, 2013

The No. 1 crisis facing San Francisco today is the skyrocketing cost of housing. As high prices push people out, the City of Oakland faces a wave of new arrivals — and new challenges. Here's how we got into this situation, and what we can do about it. 

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 Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
October 8, 2013

Climate scientists have raised concerns that the latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is "too conservative," referring to its lowered projections on the range of future warming based on a slight lack of temperature increase over the last decade. Despite this possibly encouraging bit of news, the IPCC's fifth major assessment continues to report unequivocal warming due to human causes. 

By Laura Hobbs and Laura Tam
October 4, 2013

Earlier this year a new ordinance requiring energy audits for existing commercial buildings in San Francisco went into effect. The audits identify upgrades a property owner can make to improve overall building efficiency. So far, the first 195 building audits have identified 32 gigawatt-hours of potential annual energy savings, with a value of $6 million. ...

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 Ritu Garg
September 25, 2013

As BART ridership continues to grow much faster than expected, the agency is exploring ways to increase capacity and improve service. The study currently underway, called BART Metro Vision, looks to when BART would serve more than double today's ridership, and works to measure which investments will deliver the most benefits to Bay Area rail transit.

By Ritu Garg
September 24, 2013

This month the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) unanimously approved the final environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) for the Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. When finished in the spring of 2018, the BRT line will serve the two miles on Van Ness Avenue from Lombard Street to Mission Street.

By Tomiquia Moss, Community Planning Director
September 19, 2013

The City of San Francisco has embarked on an ambitious plan to re-envision the troubled San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA). SFHA is a federally recognized public corporation with a commission appointed by the local government and a mission to provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income people.

By Allison Arieff
September 17, 2013

In the June issue of The Urbanist, we explored the idea of removing Highway 280 north of 16th Street in San Francisco in order to reconnect the Mission Bay and Potrero Hill neighborhoods. This summer, the Center for Architecture presented a design competition to consider what might happen next. Here’s a look at the winning entries and the ideas they propose for transforming this urban barrier into a healthy neighborhood connection.

By Ritu Garg
September 17, 2013

In connection with our current exhibition, SPUR is thrilled to announce The Museum of the Phantom City: Unbuilt San Francisco, a free phone app that brings lost treasures of architecture and planning into contemporary life.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
September 17, 2013

As rents and home values in San Francisco continue to explode, residents and policy makers are trying to make sense of what this means for the city. Is San Francisco an anomaly within the region or a prophecy of things to come? SPUR will co-host two forums on the housing market to explore some of this question and more.

By Kurt Pelzer and Laura Tam
August 8, 2013

The word “infrastructure” connotes things like pipes, conduits, steel and concrete, but when it comes to solving urban water management challenges, there are a growing number of solutions that are equally engineered yet more nature-based. While “grey” or traditional infrastructure remains an essential part of safe and effective design for flood control and urban watershed management, it is no longer the only tool in the toolbox.

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 Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 17, 2013

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has given the green light for the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) to take the lead coordinating the city’s support of urban agriculture. Among SPUR's recommended priorities for this program are developing a strategy to reduce community garden waiting lists and operating as a "one-stop-shop" for the people seeking assistance with urban agriculture projects.

By Gabriel Metcalf and Ratna Amin
July 2, 2013

For a group like SPUR — one that works to promote transit, walking and biking as primary forms of mobility — there’s no question that a transit strike is a major setback. It instills in people the sense, consciously or unconsciously, that they cannot count on transit being there when they need it.

by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 2, 2013

While many parts of San Francisco are full of fresh food retailers, other neighborhoods lack greengrocers of any size.  According to the SF Health Department, some areas of the city — including Treasure Island, the Tenderloin, Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley, among others — have limited to no fresh food retail options.

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 Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
May 23, 2013

Before we paved the streets of San Francisco, little creeks and wetlands were abundant. Today, as in most cities, these natural water features have been replaced by a sewer network that effectively throws away rainwater instead of finding ways to reuse it. But a new 20-year, $6 billion capital program could be the start of a new approach to stormwater management.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
May 20, 2013

Last month the San Francisco Planning Department released a draft of the Central Corridor Plan, the result of several years of planning efforts. The plan represents an enormous opportunity to build on the substantial transit investment in the area, including the $1.6 billion Central Subway project, as well as existing transit in the form of the 4th and Caltrain station and the N-Judah Muni line, as well as many frequent local buses.

By Benjamin Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
May 16, 2013

This week, SPUR and the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District will close Annie Alley to car traffic and host a series of outdoor public events. What is it about an alley that inspires urban invention? As we kick off our week of investigation, we pause to reflect on the humble alley and its role in the city.

By Lenka Belkova and Ratna Amin
May 7, 2013

How would you improve the transit system for neighborhoods in the northeast part of San Francisco? This was the key question SPUR asked at a transit planning workshop for the city’s northeast neighborhoods last month. The workshop brought together representatives from key public agencies, North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf businesses, the tourism industry and neighborhood advocacy groups, as well as transportation professionals.

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
May 6, 2013

Over the last year, there’s been palpable buzz in San Francisco around eco-districts — sustainability plans that operate at the neighborhood scale. After studying models in Portland, Seattle, Brooklyn and Denver, the city has kicked off a planning process for its first eco-district. The project will target the Central Corridor, the 24-square-block area south of Market Street currently undergoing a neighborhood planning and rezoning process.

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.

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