Blog

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
November 12, 2014

From a regional perspective, there’s one pretty clear outcome of the recent election: Smart growth and infill development won at the ballot box. Across half a dozen measures, Bay Area voters rejected NIMBY-led downzoning, approved height increases in their downtowns, reaffirmed urban growth boundaries and voted against sprawl development.

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 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 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
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.

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 Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
August 6, 2014

This November, Santa Clara County residents will vote on a tax measure that would significantly expand efforts to preserve and protect open space areas. This measure aligns with a number of SPUR’s goals. For Santa Clara County voters, we recommend a “yes” vote on the open space funding measure.

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 Kristy Wang, Community Planning Director
July 9, 2014

San Jose’s City Council approved the Diridon Station Area Plan (DSAP) after a five-year process. The DSAP focuses on dense mixed-use growth in a transit-rich infill location, includes needed improvements to the pedestrian and bicycle network and commits to better transportation management planning. However, close oversight will be important moving forward to ensure that Diridon Station becomes the transit-rich hub it was...

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

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