Blog

By Zack Dinh
July 29, 2015

Many communities in Marin and Sonoma County grew up around rail. The remnants of this legacy are the walkable downtowns adjacent to former rail stations in many North Bay cities. Now, after decades of hard work by locals, passenger trains will once again connect the North Bay's communities: Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) will begin passenger rail service in December 2016. 

By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
July 28, 2015

Our report The Future of Downtown San Jose suggested that the city can bring more people and activity downtown by investing in clearer signage, more real-time information and better wayfinding. With support from the Knight Foundation, San Jose is now taking big steps to make that happen.

By Alexa Arena and Laura Crescimano
July 20, 2015

Last week urban designer Evan Rose died at the age of 50. He leaves behind an important body of work that will continue to influence cities and the people who plan them. 

By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
July 15, 2015

Amid celebrations of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, a third important ruling was largely overlooked — one that could have a profound impact on where affordable housing is built: inner-city neighborhoods or the suburbs. Given significant research on the impact that neighborhoods have on life outcomes, the ramifications of this ruling could be profound.

By Christina Yun
July 14, 2015

Throughout its nearly century-long history, the Oakland Produce Market has served as the late-night link between rural farms and urban consumers in the East Bay. The oldest American operation of its kind still using original facilities, located in one of Oakland’s oldest neighborhoods, the market is a hidden gem in the historical industrial district near Jack London Square. 

By Alyssa Kies
July 7, 2015

There are at least 30,000 square feet of blank walls in downtown San Jose. A new nonprofit organization called the Exhibition District is hatching an ambitious plan to cover them with murals by local artists. The goal is to use public art as an economic engine that can both attract people to downtown and pay artists real wages for their work.

By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
June 30, 2015

Healthy food incentive programs — which provide low-income families with matching dollars to buy fruits and vegetables — have been gaining traction in policy circles recently. Why the increased attention? Because these programs work. Expanding them in California would significantly improve healthy food access.

By Dylan Pilaar, Erin McAuliff and Ratna Amin
June 29, 2015

Each day, nearly 600,000 commuters cross the bay between San Francisco and the East Bay. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a given on the Bay Bridge, and BART ridership is at peak capacity. A second transbay rail tube will be essential to solving the crunch, but it will take years, or decades, to complete. Here’s how we can break the logjam in the meantime.

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 Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
June 4, 2015

The displacement occurring in the Mission District and elsewhere in San Francisco is indisputably tragic. But we should not be fooled into believing that passing moratoriums on new development is going to solve the city’s affordability crisis. This simply makes housing less available — and makes it likely that more people will be displaced. Here's what we should do instead.

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 Allison Arieff, SPUR Editorial Director
April 9, 2015

This month, San Francisco will introduce a new transit map designed to give riders more information at a glance. First exhibited at SPUR in 2014 as part of our exhibition Urban Cartography, the new Muni map makes the...

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 Jennifer Warburg and Benjamin Grant
March 25, 2015

The Blue Greenway project proposes a 13-mile continuous open space and waterway network along San Francisco's southeastern waterfront. The idea has enormous support, but it has yet to overcome some hurdles, namely a geography that encompasses dozens of sites with dozens of owners. To address these complications, SPUR, the San Francisco Parks Alliance and others partners have kicked off the Blue Greenway Action Plan.

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
March 19, 2015

Headlines are sounding the alarm that California might have only one year of water left. How are water suppliers in the Bay Area responding to our state’s worsening drought? This week SPUR invited a few of the region’s principal water managers to share the outlook from their parts of the Bay Area.

March 17, 2015

Paula Kehoe oversees pivotal water conservation and water resource diversification programs for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. With California’s...

March 17, 2015

Jimmy Chiu, Airport Infrastructure Program Director, led both design and construction efforts for the successful implementation of FAA-required runway safety areas at San Francisco International Airport (SFO...

March 17, 2015

The James R. Herman Cruise Terminal Team managed design, financing and project implementation to create a LEED-certified, world-class cruise terminal at Pier 27. The team set priorities, aligned interests...

March 17, 2015

Colleen Chawla led the effort to create the groundbreaking Health Care Services Master Plan (HCSMP) for the City and County of San Francisco. The first of its kind in the nation, the HCSMP...

March 17, 2015

The Family Violence Prevention Team implements new strategies to promote safe communication between parties in child-support cases. Through their work with the Family Violence Initiative, they have facilitated a 16 percent increase in the number of child support cases that are...

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.

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