• News

    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

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 .

Saint Clare Coffee Comes to the SPUR Urban Center

May 11, 2016 By Allison Arieff, Editorial Director
SPUR’s forums bring hundreds of people to our building each week, and we've seen how lively the interactions before and after those events can be. Now there’s a place to continue the conversation: We've opened a new café, Saint Clare Coffee, in the ground floor of the SPUR Urban Center. SPUR's Allison Arieff spoke with Saint Clare’s founder, Kevin Bohlin , about his newest venture.

Regional Agencies Take a Step Closer to Merging

April 28, 2016 By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments took a major step toward more comprehensive regional planning. A joint committee of the two agencies endorsed a full organizational merger . After reviewing seven proposed merger options, the committee voted to support one that would make all ABAG and MTC staff part of the same organizational and management structure.

High-Speed Rail Gets Real for the Bay Area

April 28, 2016 By Danielle Glaser, San Jose Intern, and Laura Tolkoff, San Jose Policy Director
This year, the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced that the first segment of high-speed rail will connect the Central Valley to San Jose, instead of Los Angeles. The Bay Area will become the proving ground for how high-speed rail can transform California’s cities. What do we need to do to get it right?​

Prioritizing the “Public” in Public Benefits for Central SoMa

April 20, 2016 By Kristy Wang, Community Planning Policy Director
What matters most as San Francisco works to develop a neighborhood plan for the Central SoMa district? According to an analysis by city staff, changing zoning rules to allow taller buildings in the area — when combined with existing fees and requirements — could generate approximately $2 billion for public benefits. How should those dollars be dedicated? SPUR weighs in.

Time to Plan Big for the Future of Downtown Oakland

April 12, 2016 By Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director
Public and private investment have sparked a renaissance in downtown Oakland, but as the attention and interest grow, downtown finds itself in a bind. The current revival hasn’t been strong enough to attract new construction, and institutions, residents and businesses are being displaced. The Downtown Oakland Specific Plan, now in process, provides an opportunity to address displacement and think big about the future of downtown.

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