• News

    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

Downtown San Jose Growing Up — and Out

May 16, 2018 By Joshua Brett and Jaclyn Tidwell
Adopted in 2011, San Jose’s ambitious Envision 2040 plan included goals of bringing more than 10,000 new homes and nearly 50,000 jobs to downtown San Jose. Every year, SPUR reports on the progress we’re making as a city to realize these goals. This year, we’re seeing three positive trends, as well as major decisions on the horizon.

San Jose Updates Its Ambitious Plans for St. James Park

May 16, 2018 By Kathryn Exon Smith, San Jose Program Associate, and Noah Christman, Public Programming Manager
St. James Park has long been a center of civic pride for San Jose, but lately the park has battled a reputation for being unsafe and unpleasant. In 2016, the city hosted a national competition and selected CMG Landscape Architecture to reimagine the design and programming of the park. At a recent SPUR forum, CMG and other partners shared the progress made since then.

Should Oakland Tax Vacant Properties?

May 16, 2018 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
According to a recent analysis of data from the Alameda County Assessor’s Office and the City of Oakland, there are approximately 4,000 vacant parcels in Oakland. In a move that could prompt owners of these properties to build on them — and in the process generate revenue for purposes including homeless services — Oakland is considering imposing a tax on vacant properties.

It All Adds Up: The Growing Costs That Prevent New Housing in California

May 9, 2018 By Andy Bosselman
Construction costs are a growing barrier to building new housing in California. Today, experts don’t agree on the exact reasons for California’s soaring costs, which often leads to policy fights based on ideology, not facts. A new research series from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation aims to add data to the debate. At a recent SPUR forum, panelists discussed the research to date.

Why We Can’t Leave Transportation Apps to the Private Sector

April 25, 2018 By Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director and Arielle Fleisher, Transportation Policy Associate
Uber’s recent announcement that it is adding new travel modes to its platform caught the public transportation sector flat footed. It’s time for Bay Area transportation leaders to start setting a vision for mobility-as-a-service, an approach that makes many transportation choices available through a single platform and payment system. For many reasons, we need government — not the private sector — to take the lead.

With or Without Autonomous Vehicles: 11 Strategies for a Better Transportation Future

April 24, 2018 By Ratna Amin, SPUR Transportation Policy Director
The adoption of autonomous vehicles on a grand scale is not inevitable, and their predicted benefits have not yet been proven. As we plan for the transportation system of the future, we should set goals that we will accomplish with AVs or without them. The following are effective strategies to manage traffic and make it easier to get around — even if AVs never arrive.

The HayWired Earthquake Scenario: How We Can Outsmart Disaster

April 23, 2018 By Laurie A. Johnson*
What would you and your family do if a serious earthquake struck the East Bay? The U.S. Geological Society has released a major study of a hypothetical magnitude-7.0 earthquake striking on the Hayward Fault. Known as the HayWired earthquake scenario, the project uses scientific modeling of realistic impacts to envision what would happen — and what we need to do to get ready.

A Bay Area With Autonomous Vehicles — or Without Them

April 19, 2018 By Ratna Amin, SPUR Transportation Policy Director
Depending on who you talk to, the introduction of autonomous vehicles could be a panacea or endlessly fraught with problems. But AVs are not inevitable: We need to plan for many possible scenarios. As part of the SPUR Regional Strategy , we have launched research on the Bay Area's future transportation system. Here’s a look at our thinking on how AVs could manifest in cities.

What the Bridge Housing Pilot Can Do for All San Jose Residents

April 5, 2018 Jaclyn Tidwell, San Jose Policy Director
With only enough shelter beds to serve 25 percent of its homeless population, San Jose continues to look for short-term housing interventions. One promising step: The San Jose Department of Housing is in the process of piloting Bridge Housing Communities, a micro community of 40 sleeping cabins and community spaces to be placed on city-owned property.

Managing Urban Fires

April 4, 2018 By Andy Bosselman
Before the arrival of cities, what is now the Western United States burned regularly — and urbanization added fuel to this fire-based ecology. Advances in firefighting and building codes made fires less perilous, until recently. At a recent SPUR forum, panelists Charles Scawthorn, of the University of California and Ron Vidal, a fire safety consultant, discussed the history and changing challenges of urban fires.

Get Email Updates

Get SPUR news and events delivered straight to your email inbox.

Sign up now