Blog

November 21, 2011

At this year's Silver SPUR Awards Luncheon, SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf reflected on the contrasts between what he called "the totally dysfunctional state of our country right now and the remarkably functional state of our city and region." We are at a moment in history, he says, where solutions to the big problems are not coming out of Washington — they’re coming out of action at the local and regional level.

Watch the speech:
 

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 Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
November 17, 2011

Outside of the much-discussed mayor’s race, there were some important items on the ballot this year, and voters appear to have ignored the noise and focused on the business at hand. Here's our take on the election results, and an analysis of how SPUR's recommendations fared in the final count.

by Ben Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
November 16, 2011

In late October, SPUR shared with the public a set of draft recommendations for the Ocean Beach Master Plan, a long-range vision for managing coastal erosion, infrastructure, access and ecology on San Francisco’s western coast. Of the six big ideas in the draft, here are two that propose the most significant — and most exciting — changes to streets, public spaces and coastal management at Ocean Beach.

By Corey Cook, University of San Francisco
November 3, 2011

In the weeks leading up to the November 8 election, San Franciscans find themselves up to their necks in news articles (from the Chronicle, the Mercury News and even The Economist) about our ranked-choice voting (RCV) system and how the tallying of...

By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director, and Aaron Bialick, SPUR intern
November 2, 2011

The Bay Area is in the midst of a major planning initiative to identify where to grow and how to allocate scarce transportation dollars over the next 30 years. City agencies have been consulted in the development of the Sustainable Communities Strategy, but recently they got a chance to respond publicly to the plan and raise concerns about its three proposed growth scenarios. SPUR agrees with much of the city’s response, but we differ on a few key points. Namely, we believe San...

November 1, 2011

Dale Minami has served as a Bay Area attorney for four decades, garnering nationwide recognition for his civil rights leadership in the process. A personal injury attorney with Minami Tamaki LLP by practice, Dale has made substantial contributions to the advancement of Asian-American rights. He helped found the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian American Bar Association, both the first of their kind in the United States.

November 1, 2011

Rick Laubscher is most well known for his transformative impact on Market Street’s historic streetcars, but his transportation advocacy and commitment to San Francisco’s important historic treasures extends well beyond the Market Street Railway. A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Rick and his family have long been engaged in the vibrant life of Market Street.

November 1, 2011

Art Gensler is a business visionary who has transformed the industry of architecture and design through his entrepreneurial creativity and leadership. In 1965, he co-founded Gensler, a San Francisco architecture and design firm, now a 3,000-person firm with 30 offices worldwide. A Cornell University graduate, Art is on the Advisory Council of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

November 1, 2011

 Natalie Berg, Ed.D., has influenced San Francisco as an educator, civic leader and land use consultant. In her 30 plus years at City College of San Francisco she has served as a professor, dean and most recently as an elected member and president of the Board of Trustees.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
October 26, 2011

What’s the best way to revitalize Central Market? There isn’t one way, but many — and they all need to be coordinated with one another. While this sounds like an answer that Yoda might offer, we hope that the folks at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OWED) don’t have to rely on the Force alone to help finalize the Central Market Economic Strategy. The strategy is full of good ideas — and all will need substantial political support in order to be...

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
October 25, 2011

Last week, the Bay Area's Business Council on Climate Change — which SPUR is a part of — released the Green Tenant Toolkit, an online resource for improving the sustainable performance of existing commercial buildings in San Francisco.

By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
October 24, 2011

Many of us in the Bay Area felt a series of sharp tremors on October 20 and 21 — coincidentally the same day that Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted would bring the Apocalypse. It might not be time for the Rapture just yet, but we do know the Big One is coming, and we want our buildings to be prepared. Fortunately, Mayor Ed Lee has released the first draft of San Francisco's Earthquake Safety Implementation Program.

By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager, and Jesse Sleamaker
October 12, 2011

At three in the morning, a four-block stretch of Jerrold Avenue in the Bayview neighborhood is abuzz with business. The San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, which is busiest during the graveyard shift, is a hidden hub of San Francisco’s fresh food system. 

By Corey Marshall, Good Government Director
October 11, 2011

Absentee ballots will start to arrive this week, which means it's time for the annual SPUR Voter Guide, our in-depth analysis of all local San Francisco ballot propositions.

By Aaron Bialick
September 27, 2011

The Bay Area has a lot to gain from pricing its freeways. Two of the major benefits are money for transit and less highway congestion. High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are a miniature form of road pricing, offering solo drivers the option to buy their way into High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes and bypass the congested, more heavily-subsidized highway lanes.

by Gretchen Hilyard
September 14, 2011

SPUR’s 2011 Piero N. Patri Fellow, Sarah Moos, spent this summer studying San Francisco's unmaintained and underused rights-of-way. The resulting project, Unaccepted Streets: From Paper to Reality, proposes to transform some of San Francisco's overlooked spaces into a network of public pathways that would better link local communities to open spaces and to each other.

by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
September 14, 2011

As someone who works on urban agricultural policy, I'm often asked, "Is city-grown food safe?" The question comes from aspiring urban gardeners and concerned eaters alike. And it seems to stem from both a fear of the known and a fear of the unknown. 

By Jennifer Warburg
September 8, 2011

On Tuesday, Congress returned to Washington with only 11 days to pass essential legislation: the reauthorization of all major national transit and highway projects and the gas tax that funds them.

By Corey Marshall, SPUR Good Government Director
September 8, 2011

Our latest SPUR Report, Seeking Green, takes a hard look at the many factors that make funding San Francisco’s parks so difficult: diminishing public funds, political forces that prevent raising new revenues and, more recently, a recession of historic proportions. How can the Recreation and Parks Department navigate these competing pressures to maintain services and care for our parks? Our task force found 11 ways to save...

Gretchen Hilyard
September 1, 2011

San Francisco’s Market Street has a long and fascinating history: from its ambitious beginnings as an over-scaled boulevard, laid out by Jasper O’Farrell in 1847, to its heyday as the city’s vibrant theater district in the early twentieth century. Market Street rose to prominence after the 1906 Earthquake, survived a series of urban planning experiments in the mid-twentieth century, and absorbed the important yet disruptive insertion of BART beneath its surface in 1972.

By Jennifer Warburg
August 31, 2011

Forget what your mother told you about "it's what’s on the inside that counts.” In the case of BART trains, it’s all about what’s on the outside.

by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
August 30, 2011

In many neighborhoods in San Francisco, the opening of a new grocery store is notable. But in the Bayview, a new Fresh & Easy store that opened on August 24 filled a full-scale grocery store gap that had persisted for more than 15 years. “It’s all about health, about neighborhood vitality, about jobs, and about fulfilling old promises,” explained Mayor Ed Lee at the opening. “That is what this store represents.”

By Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
August 26, 2011

With two different pension-reform measures on the upcoming ballot, it’s no secret that pension reform will have a significant impact on the November election. But how did the city get to the point of having a problem of this magnitude? Clearly the recession has played a big part, but what about the many negotiated increases in benefits over the course of the last decade?

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...

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