By Noah Christman and Karen Steen
July 21, 2011

Taking down a show at the SPUR Urban Center Gallery is always a sad moment. An exhibition is one of the best ways to de-nerdify our policy research and make it accessible to a wide audience. But once it comes down from our walls, we lose that public window into our work. So when we heard about Microsoft’s Photosynth technology, we got excited. Photosynth creates a virtual environment by collaging together hundreds of very high resolution photos.

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 19, 2011

L.A.’s highly hyped “carmageddon” — the two-day closure of the 405 freeway — was not the apocalypse many feared. But it did provide a great showdown of transit alternatives.

In the starting gates were: bikes, mass transit and a plane (chartered by gimmick-savvy Jet Blue).

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 18, 2011

The stretch of 4th Street between Market Street and the Caltrain station at 4th and King Street may not be one of San Francisco’s best-known neighborhoods (at least not yet), but it’s an important area for urbanists to be thinking about. Why? Because roughly $1.5 billion will be invested in transit infrastructure here, in the form of the Central Subway. The SF Planning Department has launched a Central Corridor Study...

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
July 17, 2011

We are what we eat.  It’s true for people — but also for cities and regions. The food we consume and the system that produces, distributes and disposes of it are as vital to San Francisco and the Bay Area as our systems for housing, energy, water and governance. That's why SPUR has launched a new Food Systems and Urban Agriculture policy program that will strengthen both the food system within the city and the region’s network of farms and distributors.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 17, 2011

This year has been a wild one for redevelopment agencies in in California. First California voters passed Proposition 22, which prevented the state from raiding redevelopment agency funds. Then Governor Jerry Brown vowed to abolish redevelopment agencies and got fairly close to doing so. Now redevelopment agencies have once again headed to the chopping block, only this time it’s for real.

By Micah Hilt
July 12, 2011


In the history of San Francisco city planning, 2011 may go down as the year of the parklet. The idea to make streets more livable by converting parking spaces into public places debuted in SF in 2010, thanks to the city’s ...

July 11, 2011

Since President Obama launched his Open Government Directive in December 2009, tech-savvy urban thinkers have been asking, "How can technology improve government and empower communities?" Although the Open Government Initiative suffered a hit when its funding was cut from $35 million to $8 million, nonprofits around the

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
July 7, 2011

There's been a lot of hullabaloo about San Francisco's Mid-Market area lately, mostly focused on the new payroll tax exemption for businesses that locate in the neighborhood and the planned CityPlace Project, a major retail development, both approved by the city last September. But a gaggle of planners and economic development...

July 5, 2011
When you live in San Francisco, it can be easy to forget that your standard of living is not the norm for all Californians. Not everyone in our state has such easy access to the Pacific Ocean, cascading mountains, iconic skylines and Bluebottle Coffee.
By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
July 5, 2011

In the 1970s, we crossed a global threshold when the rate of human demand for natural resources began to outpace the rate at which nature could provide them. How do we know this? By measuring our “ecological footprint” — natural resource consumption as a function of goods and services purchased. Recently SPUR and the Global Footprint Network released a study of San Francisco's ecological footprint.

June 27, 2011
What would make a morning commute on BART a more enjoyable, engaging and productive experience? Bike repairs? Coffee and snacks? Book clubs? Short films? Spinning classes? Speed dating?
By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
June 23, 2011

Work on Senate Bill 375, California's anti-sprawl legislation, continued last month with a joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments. The question at hand: Should MTC and ABAG approve a set of five alternative growth scenarios to further analyze? ...

June 22, 2011

SPUR’s 31st annual Good Government Awards, held earlier this year, honored five City of San Francisco employees and teams who have performed exceptionally, becoming models for other agencies and cities around the country.

June 20, 2011
After observing aggressive and dangerous behavior by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on New York City streets, designer Ron Gabriel decided to focus his master’s thesis at the School of Visual Arts on the danger posed by a single NYC intersection.
June 20, 2011

Since the DeYoung Brothers first founded the The Daily Dramatic Chronicle in 1865, the home of San Francisco’s pioneering newspaper has been an incubator for ideas and innovation. Within a decade of its founding, the San Francisco Chronicle had the largest circulation of any newspaper west of the Mississippi River. The company has moved twice since then, and its headquarters buildings have always represented changing ideas about design and planning in the city.

June 20, 2011
Image credit: flickr user baldheretic

Due to overwhelming demand pre-registration for this event is closed. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

By Sarah Karlinsky
June 16, 2011

What happens the next time we have a major earthquake on the Hayward or San Andreas Fault? What should we be doing right now to make sure we are prepared? The Association of Bay Area Governments considered these questions at its forum “Shaken Awake: Creative Ways to Strengthen Housing and Promote Resilience in Today’s Economy.”

June 16, 2011

There’s something in it for everyone to hate and something for everyone to love, but after two years, we are optimistic: We may be very close to a consensus on how to amend the San Francisco Bay Plan with new information about climate change.

June 16, 2011

The Ocean Beach master planning process took a big step forward this month. The project team, led by SPUR, presented four “test scenarios” at its second public meeting on June 4. Based on input from our first public meeting in January, the scenarios explore the outcomes of very different approaches to managing coastal erosion, infrastructure and ecology at Ocean Beach until the year 2100.

June 15, 2011

SPUR’s 31st annual Good Government Awards, held earlier this year, honored five City of San Francisco employees and teams who have performed exceptionally, becoming models for other agencies and cities around the country.

June 14, 2011

In the coming weeks, the SF Board of Supervisors Rules Committee will be hearing the "consensus" proposal for pension reform, which Mayor Ed Lee and a coalition of the city’s labor unions released May 24. The board has until July to make amendments and vote on the proposal.

The proposal, which projects savings of $1 billion over ten years, would:

June 13, 2011
The 108 Treasure Island bus. Photo by flickr user juicyrai.

According to a recent analysis by the carbon-offset managers at CO2IMPACT, San Francisco tops the list of U.S. cities ready for climate change.

June 8, 2011
Photo by Karen Chapple

Accessory dwelling units — better known as cottages, in-law apartments or granny flats — could provide an estimated 1,000 new residences near selected BART stations, research by UC Berkeley Professor Karen Chapple shows.

June 2, 2011

BART station in the East Bay, photo by flickr user travesty01

June 2, 2011

The recent renovation of the Oakland Museum of California by Mark Cavagnero Associates has brought much-deserved attention to this important Modernist design. But the original design of this Modern masterpiece deserves a closer look.