• News

    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

How New Approaches to the Storefront Are Reviving Retail

February 16, 2018 By Kathryn Exon Smith and Jaclyn Tidwell
New technology, changing demographics and shifting consumer preferences have caused a slump in sales at big-box stores, traditional shopping malls and downtown storefronts across the country. But innovative uses of space and new approaches to drawing customers into stores show signs of promise. A recent SPUR forum in San Jose explored how retailers are finding success locally.

Oakland Needs More — Here’s How to Get It

February 15, 2018 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
Oaklanders have been willing to tax themselves heavily over the years, but it’s never enough to provide an adequate level of services. The need for more, and the inability to deliver it, has been a defining characteristic of the city for the last few decades. How can Oakland change this? By growing its job and tax revenue bases.
Double Up Food Bucks advertisement on cash register monitor at Food Bowl 99

An Easier Way to Double the Fresh in CalFresh

February 5, 2018 By Eli Zigas, Food and Agriculture Policy Director
Thousands of people in Santa Clara County have been earning and redeeming Double Up Food Bucks for fruits and vegetables at participating grocery stores. Our program has been working well, but because Double Up Food Bucks are distributed on paper coupons, they can be cumbersome. A new bill would address the issue and pave the way to scale programs like Double Up statewide.

What’s the Best Use for Oakland’s Publicly Owned Land?

January 17, 2018 By Sarah Karlinsky, Senior Policy Advisor
Many have asked how Oakland’s publicly owned land might be put to use to create affordable housing. The city is now working with a community coalition to develop a new policy for how public land is used. At issue is whether prioritizing affordable housing on public land would pit affordability against other important imperatives like generating funding for city services and creating well-paying local jobs.

Phasing Out Nuclear Power in California

January 16, 2018 By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
Nuclear power and the future of California’s electricity grid made the news last week with the announcement that the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved closing Diablo Canyon, the state’s last operating nuclear power plant. SPUR wrote about this promising idea in our 2016 report Fossil-Free Bay Area .

Big City, Big Airport: How San Jose Can Have Both

January 11, 2018 By Laura Tolkoff and Teresa Alvarado
The remaking of Diridon Station is the most important city-building opportunity San Jose will get for a long time. But the amount of growth planned for the area is limited by the station’s proximity to the Mineta San Jose Airport and its flight paths. Can San Jose get more space near the station for jobs and housing? Preliminary analysis by SPUR and SOM says yes.

Lessons from Wynwood: A Case Study on Urban Arts Districts

January 11, 2018 By Joshua Brett
Like San Jose’s South First Area, Miami’s Wynwood District leveraged the arts to transform an underutilized neighborhood into a successful mix of galleries, nightclubs and restaurants. Today rising rents risk driving away the very artists that made Wynwood such a unique and attractive place. As large-scale development comes to downtown San Jose and SoFA, what lessons can the city learn from Wynwood’s story?

Gil Peñalosa Challenges San Jose to Build a Healthier, Happier, More Equitable City

December 7, 2017 By Jaclyn Tidwell, San Jose Policy Director
From Copenhagen to Los Angeles, cities are finding new ways to address their interconnected health, climate, congestion, equity and economic challenges through innovative thinking about public spaces. At November’s San Jose Public Life Summit , urbanist and public design advocate Gil Peñalosa challenged leaders and residents in San Jose to move forward with ambitious projects that support sustainable mobility, vibrant public spaces and civic engagement.

How to Lead the Nation — From the Bay Area

December 6, 2017 By Gabriel Metcalf, SPUR President
The Bay Area has become a central player in the story of our country. First because we are coming up with the innovations that are disrupting the economy and people’s lives. Second because we represent an alternative path, a model of progressive urbanism. Our task is to make that model really work — and we're not as far away as we might think.

2017 Silver SPUR Awards: How Abdi Soltani Fights for Civil Rights

December 5, 2017
Abdi Soltani is a nationally recognized civil rights leader whose work with the ACLU of Northern California has helped transform California into one of the nation's most progressive states. With his leadership, the ACLU has cultivated partnerships with communities most directly impacted by injustice, and developed a presence in the Central Valley and in Sacramento.

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