• News

    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

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.

San Francisco’s Schools Adopt a Good Food Framework

June 29, 2016 By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
Many food service institutions in the Bay Area can point to items on their menu to show that they offer healthy, sustainable and fairly made food. But it’s often unclear how deep that commitment goes across the menu as a whole. San Francisco Unified School District, with its $11 million annual school food budget, just pledged to make that commitment clearer and stronger.

What Is Your Radical Idea for San Jose?

June 29, 2016
If money were no object, what "moonshot" idea do you believe would make the biggest positive impact on San Jose? SPUR is entering its fifth year in San Jose, and we’ve accomplished a lot. As we look toward our next five years, we’re looking for new thinking that could transform the future of the city. We’d love to hear about your vision for San Jose.

What Do Three Mega Projects Tell Us About Silicon Valley’s Future?

June 27, 2016 By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
Santa Clara's City Place development, San Jose’s Diridon Station Area Plan and Mountain View’s North Bayshore Precise Plan seek to reshape growth in Silicon Valley. What do they tell us about the future of Silicon Valley and what do they mean for the region? Can we expect something different than auto-oriented suburbs? Are we “thinking different” — or repeating the mistakes of the past?

What Is Oakland Doing About Its Housing Crisis?

June 10, 2016 By Sarah Karlinsky, Senior Policy Advisor
As housing prices continue to climb in Oakland and stories of displacement circulate, many are asking when the city is going to do something about the housing affordability crisis. Progress may look slow on the ground, but in fact the city has been making rapid progress on a number of fronts.

Go Big and Go Home: Why the Housing Bonus Program Is Good for SF

June 7, 2016 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
On June 13, Mayor Lee and Supervisor Tang’s Affordable Housing Bonus Program heads to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee. The program has come under fire from both housing advocates and neighborhood opponents. Recently, Supervisors Mar and Peskin announced a competing proposal. But we still think the original plan is the way to go. Here’s why.

Three Ways Downtown San Jose Just Got a Lot More Urban

June 2, 2016 By Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
In the past few weeks, San Jose has taken three big steps toward creating a more urban and active downtown. These milestones took place with little fanfare, but we think they’re worth celebrating.

Governor Brown’s Solution to the Affordability Crisis: Allow New Housing “By Right”

June 2, 2016 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
In May, Governor Jerry Brown proposed streamlining the approvals process for multi-family housing developments that are built in urbanized areas and include affordable housing. If the proposal passes, eligible housing projects would be approved “by right,” and not subject to local approval or review under CEQA. The governor's proposal is not a panacea, but it is a practical, modest step in the right direction .

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