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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

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.

Stop, Pop and Stroll: PopUp Retail Successes in Oakland

January 9, 2015 By Allison Arieff, SPUR Editorial Director
It seems everyone’s abuzz about Pop-Ups these days: those retail businesses that appear suddenly, operate for a day or two—sometimes for weeks—and then disappear. Pop-ups are temporary by definition, but they can have longer-term impacts on communities. That’s becoming quite evident in Oakland, where pop-ups have proven to be a tool in the work of downtown revitalization.

What We Need to Get Right on VTA's BART Extension to Silicon Valley

December 19, 2014 By Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director
It makes sense for Silicon Valley to have ambitions for world-class transit and great urban places. That’s why extending BART service to the South Bay has been an aspiration for a generation leaders. But getting the next project phase funded has stirred up strong feelings — and provided a reminder of all we need to keep in mind when making decisions about infrastructure investments.

Study Validates Central Subway Extension to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf

December 17, 2014 By Julienne Christensen
The case for extending San Francisco’s Central Subway project to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf got a boost in late November with the release of a new study. The new data will allow the extension to be ranked relative to other transit projects — a necessary step for it to be approved as an addition to the city’s transit system.

Steel Yourselves: The Creative Afterlife of the Former Bay Bridge

December 15, 2014 By Magda Maaoui, SPUR intern and Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
For 77 years, the 58,000 tons of steel in the Bay Bridge’s eastern span formed a vital link between Oakland and San Francisco. Now, thanks to the passion of local artists, a significant portion of former Bay Bridge steel will be reincarnated as large-scale public art.

How Are the Bay Area’s Biggest Cities Planning for Growth?

December 12, 2014 By Egon Terplan and Jennifer Warburg
In November, planning officials from San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland met to share their progress in implementing Plan Bay Area, the region's long-range vision for transportation and land use planning . How these cities manage future growth will have ramifications for the entire region.

At Last, Thousands of New Housing Units on the Way in SF

December 10, 2014 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
After years of legal and financial delays, San Francisco’s three biggest residential projects have taken steps toward becoming reality. Together, they make up most of the proposed housing units in the city’s construction pipeline . The first 88 units at the Hunters Point Shipyard are nearing the end of construction, while Parkmerced and Treasure Island, both stalled by legal action, have prevailed in court.

Oakland Clears the Path for New Urban Agriculture

December 7, 2014 By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
The City of Oakland recently made it easier for urban farmers and gardeners to start new projects. On November 18, the City Council unanimously approved changes to the city planning code that clarifies what types of urban agriculture are allowed in each part of the city and expanded the areas where residents can cultivate crops and produce honey.

How Should San Jose Pay for Affordable Housing?

December 3, 2014 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
Silicon Valley has become one of the most expensive housing markets nationwide, and funding for affordable housing in Santa Clara County has been steadily decreasing or stagnating. Last month the San Jose City Council approved an affordable housing impact fee to be paid by developers. Once it’s fully operational, the program is anticipated to generate between $20 and $30 million per year for affordable housing.

SF's Parks Provide Economic Benefits Approaching $1 Billion

December 3, 2014 By Jennifer Warburg, Special Projects Manager
When it comes to weighing city policy priorities, parks have historically come up short on the ability to demonstrate their economic value . But San Francisco's open spaces and recreational opportunities are actually worth about $1 billion per year, according to a new report from the Trust for Public Land and the SF Parks Alliance.

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