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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

What Does SJ’s City Hall Plaza Need to Become a Great Urban Space?

March 4, 2015 by Alyssa Kies
Building an iconic, future-oriented city hall in downtown San Jose was a leap toward urbanity. But to truly reap the rewards of density will require more work. Gehl Studio and the Tech Museum of Innovation partnered to survey the existing conditions of the plaza, test a series of prototypes and provide recommendations for animating the space.

Prosperity and Opportunity in the Bay Area’s Innovation Economy

March 2, 2015 By Egon Terplan and Kathryn Mullins
The Bay Area’s “innovation economy” — i.e., the high-tech sector — is thriving. Though longtime observers are right to wonder when the next crash will happen, the region’s current boom has some fundamental qualities that hint prosperity will continue. This time of expansion is an opportunity to acknowledge some of the challenges associated with economic growth.
Garden to Table's Taylor Street Farm in San Jose.

Urban Ag Incentive Proposals Spread in California

February 25, 2015 By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
The idea of urban agriculture incentive zones has begun to spread within California. On February 10, both the City of Sacramento and Santa Clara County took official steps toward creating zones that would allow landowners to receive a property tax reduction in exchange for committing their land to urban gardening or farming for at least five years.

Top Analysts Predict Another Year of Growth for SF Economy

February 20, 2015 By Jennifer Warburg
Each February, SPUR’s Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee brings together top economists and city staff to forecast what San Francisco’s economy will do in the year ahead. The expertise of independent economists and experts from key sectors — including real estate, hospitality and retail — helps the city develop revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. Here’s a look at what they see ahead.

What San Francisco Needs to Do About Housing Affordability

February 17, 2015 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
Last week the San Francisco Planning Commission adopted the 2014 Housing Element. SPUR supports the housing element, but we believe the city needs to do much more to address the housing deficit. At a time when San Francisco is experiencing growth in jobs and residents, the city is not planning, approving and building enough housing. We have five suggestions for how to get things moving.

Changing the Rules of the (Development) Game

January 26, 2015 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
Long before the current housing crisis, SPUR and partners like the SF Housing Action Coalition and Livable City advocated for better planning codes and practices in San Francisco. Paying attention to code may not be as headline-grabbing as placing a measure on the ballot, but it’s a key factor in shaping a city’s development — and San Francisco has made some significant updates recently.

Lake Merritt: The Revival of Oakland’s Jewel

January 22, 2015 By Kathryn Mullins, SPUR intern
Oakland’s Lake Merritt is one of our grandest and most beloved examples of great public space, unique in the region and deeply embedded in its community. And after a decade of thoughtful reinvestment, it is thriving.

Governor Brown Sets Ambitious Climate Agenda for California

January 20, 2015 By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
In his fourth inaugural address , Governor Jerry Brown gave climate hawks cause to celebrate the new year by proposing an ambitious energy policy agenda that will keep California at the forefront of fighting global warming for more than a decade. Brown called for 50 percent of California’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

Unearthing the Gems in Oakland’s Cultural Heartland

January 14, 2015 By Ben Grant, SPUR Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
South of Lake Merritt, a challenging urban environment belies a wealth of assets and amenities that could form the raw material of a welcoming, integrated cultural district. SPUR has been engaged in discussions with the Oakland Museum of California ( OMCA ) and its neighbors about ways to shift community experience and perception of the area.

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