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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

HOME-SF: New Law Aims to Spark More Affordable Housing

June 21, 2017 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
Last month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the HOME-SF program into law. The new law encourages housing developers to provide 30 percent of new units to low- and moderate-income households in exchange for permission to build bigger. The program will help to fill San Francisco’s growing need for housing, particularly for middle-income households that have not been well-served in the past.

Keep Building Oakland

June 15, 2017 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
As the pace of residential development picks up in downtown Oakland and the Broadway-Valdez area, it’s worth remembering that Oakland is much, much bigger than those two small neighborhoods and that very little is being built anywhere else. If we really want to alleviate the housing shortage, we need to build much more housing, in many more parts of the city.

Why Brisbane Baylands Matters to the Bay Area Housing Shortage

June 14, 2017 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
The Brisbane City Council will decide this summer whether to allow 4,400 housing units and 7 million square feet of commercial space within walking distance of an underutilized Caltrain station. Seems like the perfect place for homes, amenities and jobs, but so far the Brisbane Planning Commission has favored a low-density plan with no housing. Here’s why this matters — to all of us.

How Caltrain’s Business Plan Can Reinvent the Railroad

May 25, 2017 By Ratna Amin, SPUR Transportation Policy Director.
Now that Caltrain’s electrification project has federal funding, leaders and the public can start designing the Caltrain of the future. Finishing the $2.25 billion modernization project will mark the beginning of a completely new era for the railroad. As Caltrain begins the process of developing a business plan, here are five important questions we think the business plan should tackle.

What’s Going Up in Downtown San Jose? Our Take on Three Trends

May 11, 2017 By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director, and Joshua Brett, San Jose Policy Intern
The number of proposed developments in downtown San Jose is up — but only one project broke ground in the last year. Blocks are filling in with new businesses — but beloved Camera 12 Cinemas has shut its doors. These mixed signals make it hard to predict what the market will do next, but we’ve seen three clear trends play out in recent months.

Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones: Four Years In

May 1, 2017 By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act is about to turn four years old, and the California Legislature is considering a 10-year extension to allow the program more time to develop and give other jurisdictions more time to start incentive programs.

How Is Oakland Doing on Its Affordable Housing Goals?

April 26, 2017 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
The rate of increase in rents and home sale prices may have slowed, but Oakland still has the fourth highest rents in the nation, and housing remains unaffordable to too many. In 2016, the city set high goals for addressing the housing shortage — but how much progress has been made since then?

Why California’s New Transportation Bill Is a Really Big, Historic Deal

April 26, 2017 By Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director
Senate Bill 1, the state transportation funding bill passed by the Legislature this month, represents a monumental win for California and the Bay Area. Not only does it solve big problems for cities and transit agencies across the state, it shows that California can raise significant funding for transportation in an era of dwindling federal resources.

What’s Next for the Silicon Valley Economy?

April 24, 2017 By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
As the rate of economic growth begins to slow down, observers are asking what’s next for Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Will the region’s miraculous growth continue? Will high housing costs ever come down? Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Russ Hancock addressed some of these concerns when he presented the 2017 Silicon Valley Index at a SPUR forum in San Jose.

Why Central SoMa Needs to Focus on Jobs, Even in a Housing Shortage

April 20, 2017 By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director, and Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
San Francisco will soon adopt the Central SoMa Plan, the city’s only current major neighborhood plan. In the 230-acre area, the plan changes the zoning to allow 45,000 jobs and 7,500 housing units. Considering the housing shortage, shouldn’t there be more focus on housing in the city’s only active neighborhood plan? Not necessarily. Here are five reasons we think the plan gets the mix right.

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