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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

Urban Design Deconstructed: A Walking Tour of Santana Row

August 10, 2016 By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
Right now, San Jose is the midst of planning three urban villages: the Santana Row/ Valley Fair Urban Village, the Winchester Urban Village and the Stevens Creek Urban Village. SPUR led a walking tour earlier this summer to explore how the urban village plans can use key urban design concepts to create people-friendly places in this growing part of the city.

Legalizing Urbanism, One Block at a Time

July 27, 2016 By Alyssa Kies
Jason Roberts just wanted a coffee shop and bike lane in his Dallas neighborhood. But he found that even the simplest streetscape improvements were too expensive or, worse, illegal. So Roberts and his friends got to work with duct tape and stencils. As a result, the city has since dramatically reduced permitting fees and peeled back ordinances that banned street activity.

Building an Inclusive Community in Times of Fear and Distrust

July 20, 2016 By Teresa Alvarado, San Jose Director
Our nation is suffering from a gaping wound reminiscent of the 1960s. During that era, my parents were active in el movimiento , working alongside Cesar Chavez to advocate for better living conditions, opportunities, safety and acceptance. My parents dreamed of a different future than we are experiencing now. We must return to being an inclusive community that provides a path to opportunity and mobility.

Violence and the Urban Commons

July 19, 2016 By Benjamin Grant, Urban Design Policy Director
There are times when the very fabric of society seems to be unraveling, and this is certainly one of them. San Bernardino, Orlando, Dallas, Nice. Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling. How are those of us who think about cities to understand this moment?

A Plea to End Racial Bias: A Mom’s Response to Police Violence in Our Cities

July 18, 2016 By Alicia John-Baptiste, Deputy Director
When people want to know what can be done to change centuries of institutional racism and socialized prejudice, I want them to know my experience as a White mom to Black kids. As Americans, we are all socialized toward bias. In my experience you can change your part in it, and it is critically important for White people to take responsibility for doing so.

What’s Going On: Tensions, and Solutions, in a Changing Oakland

July 14, 2016 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
On July 7, more than 2,000 people marched peacefully in Oakland to protest police killings of innocent civilians in other parts of the country. In a city that is changing quickly, and where tensions run high, a peaceful protest is worth noting. We must pay close attention to the reasons people were marching — and work as hard as we can to fix the causes.

What Can San Francisco Do to Address Homelessness?

July 6, 2016 By Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
On June 29, more than 80 Bay Area media organizations contributed to an unprecedented wave of coverage on homelessness. SPUR, together with HandUp, hosted an evening forum, “Housing, Homelessness and the Way Forward for San Francisco,” to report on the challenges the city faces, uncover solutions and inspire action.

Is San Francisco Finally Ready to Make In-Law Units Legal?

July 5, 2016 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin recently introduced an ordinance to allow new “in law” housing units across San Francisco. Soon afterward, supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Wiener introduced a proposal that’s similar but slightly less restrictive. We’re thrilled to see proposals to increase the city’s housing supply moving forward. Now it’s going to be important to get the details right.

Why California Accidentally Encouraged Driving, and How That's About to Change

June 30, 2016 By Joshua Karlin-Resnick, Nelson\Nygaard
California cities that want to become more environmentally sustainable are being held back by, of all things, the California Environmental Quality Act. Here’s how an environmental regulation became one of the biggest forces in widening roads to accommodate more cars — and why the state is finally changing this outmoded standard.

A New Pro-Housing Generation Says “Yes In My Back Yard”

June 30, 2016 By Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
A growing collection of like-minded urbanists from around the country have jauntily adopted the label YIMBY or “Yes In My Back Yard.” YIMBYs tend to live in cities. And the thing they most want in their backyards is housing. Last week they met at YIMBY 2016, their first-ever international conference.

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