Blog

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...

March 15, 2012

On Thursday, March 8, the San Pedro Square Market filled with supporters of the new SPUR San Jose office, which opened in January. The 500 urbanists who joined us received a thundering welcome from San Jose Taiko, an award-winning traditional drumming group based in San Jose’s Japantown.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Tomiquia Moss and Leah Toeniskoetter
February 23, 2012

Redevelopment agencies across the state closed their doors on February 1, marking the end of an era for planning in California. How are San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose dismantling their agencies? What’s going to happen to the on-going projects and existing assets held by redevelopment agencies? Is this the last word — or will we witness the creation of other planning tools to do some of the work that was previously done by redevelopment agencies?

by Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director
January 24, 2012

On December 20, the California Supreme Court upheld the legislature’s elimination of redevelopment agencies. Each city now needs to figure out how to do what has been traditionally been done with redevelopment funds. What does this surprising turn of events mean for the urbanist agenda in California?

by Leah Toeniskoetter, SPUR San Jose Director
November 18, 2011

In January 2012, we will launch SPUR San Jose, a pilot project to extend our research, education and advocacy to the South Bay's largest city. SPUR San Jose Director Leah Toeniskoetter reports on the city's new Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan. The big idea in the plan is to create urban villages, specific areas that will provide active, walkable, bicycle-friendly, transit-oriented, mixed-use urban settings for new housing and job growth. 

by Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director
August 22, 2011

For the most part, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has done the right thing on the basic question of where its trains will go. But as we move from idea to implementation, things get messier. Residents along the Peninsula are understandably concerned about noise impacts and eminent domain. Last spring the High-Speed Rail Authority actually voted to stop work on this segment until the Bay Area could sort out what it wanted to do. But recently a Plan B has emerged that may even bring...

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 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? ...

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.”

BY STEPHEN TU
April 6, 2011

After threats to reduce service by nearly half, Caltrain officials last night agreed to scale back their drastic proposed cuts. The rail system’s governing agencies have brokered a deal to avoid the worst-case scenario, which would have run only 48 trains on weekdays, a dramatic drop from the current 86.

BY FABIANA MEACHAM
July 12, 2010

Policy wonks across the state will  be thrilled to discover the Public Policy Institute of California's recently released CA2025 report, a "briefing kit" covering California's most important long-term policy issues.

Pages