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.
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?
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.
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.
Bus rapid transit projects are in the works around the Bay Area, but progress has been intermittent. Oakland and San Leandro have voted to approve a 9.5-mile line in the East Bay. After delays, San Francisco is making progress on designs for Van Ness adn Geary. Meanwhile, the South Bay's plan to implement BRT on El Camino Real has hit a hurdle.
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.
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.
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...
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? And will any new planning tools emerge to do some of the work previously done by redevelopment agencies?
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?
This is a time of significant flux in the Bay Area’s regional planning landscape. There is a serious proposal in the California State Legislature to change the way the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is governed and increasing talk about whether it and other regional agencies can play a stronger role in economic development.
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.
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...
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.
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? ...
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.”
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.
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.