Blog

By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
June 24, 2015

Last week, the California Supreme Court released a key ruling that allows cities to require new market-rate housing developments to include homes that are affordable to people with low or moderate incomes. The case that came to the court’s attention was focused on a 2010 City of San Jose ordinance, but the ruling has broader implications for cities across the state.

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
June 2, 2015

In the field of climate change policy, you might think the State of California —arguably home of the world’s most robust policies to reduce greenhouse gases — has got everything covered. And, you’re mostly right. But there’s much more we can do. A new report highlights three ways we can significantly clean up our air by making cleaner energy choices.

By Egon Terplan and Laura Tolkoff
May 7, 2015

2014 was the hottest recent year for real estate in downtown San Jose. Hundreds of residential units broke ground in new apartment towers, with several thousand more approved. While high-density housing in the transit-rich downtown is great, the city also needs to keep in mind the long-term availability of land for jobs — specifically sites that can accommodate large office buildings near future BART stations.

By Dylan Pilaar
April 30, 2015

Silicon Valley’s El Camino Real caters almost exclusively to private automobiles, but a recent decision from the Mountain View City Council may shift the boulevard’s car-first status quo. Last week, city leaders voted 3-2 in support of dedicated lanes for the El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit project. 

By Dylan Pilaar
April 23, 2015

Great design can transform and enhance any user experience. Why, then, is thoughtful design often ignored within our transit systems? SPUR recently held a day of workshops and presentations, sponsored by TransitCenter, to explore the future of design and public transportation.

By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
Market Match being used at a farmers' market.  Courtesy of the Ecology Center.
April 6, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture just gave a big shot in the arm to healthy food incentive programs. On April 1, the agency announced $31 million in grants to groups large and small — including three recipients in California — that provide matching dollars to low-income families who use their food assistance benefits to buy fruits and vegetables.

by Alyssa Kies
March 4, 2015
Building an iconic, future-oriented city hall in downtown San Jose was a leap toward urbanity. But to truly reap the rewards of density will require more work. Gehl Studio and the Tech Museum of Innovation partnered to survey the existing conditions of the plaza, test a series of prototypes and provide recommendations for animating the space.
By Egon Terplan and Kathryn Mullins
March 2, 2015

The Bay Area’s “innovation economy” — i.e., the high-tech sector — is thriving. Though longtime observers are right to wonder when the next crash will happen, the region’s current boom has some fundamental qualities that hint prosperity will continue. This time of expansion is an opportunity to acknowledge some of the challenges associated with economic growth.

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 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 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 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 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...

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 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.

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 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 Kathryn Exon Smith and Leah Toeniskoetter
October 16, 2014

San Jose is about to choose a new mayor — a decision that will affect the city for decades to come. To help voters get to know the candidates and their positions on our issues, SPUR held a debate between the two contenders vying for the seat, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and San Jose City Councilmember Sam Liccardo.

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, Special Projects Manager
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 Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Good. To Go. Banner at Emit Mini Mart in San Jose
October 6, 2014

Fresh food is coming to dozens of corner stores in San Jose as part of a new “Good. To Go.” initiative that launched this September. Organized by the Health Trust and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley, the program aims to increase San Jose residents’ access to healthier food by improving the options available at smaller retailers.

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.

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.

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