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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

2013 Silver SPUR: How Karen Clopton Brings Transparency to Government

October 30, 2013
Chief Judge Karen V. Clopton has been promoting active public discourse, integrity and transparency in government for more than two decades. As the chief administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission, she has made its crucial regulatory work more accessible to the public and more efficient.

2013 Silver SPUR: How Senator Art Torres Speaks for the Disadvantaged

October 30, 2013
Senator Art Torres (Ret.), J.D. has been a life-long public servant and advocate for civil rights, healthcare, stem cell research and environmental justice. In a career spanning more than three decades, he has distinguished himself by tackling complex policy issues that affect all California residents. Sen. Torres has leadership roles in two core institutions serving the Bay Area: He is president of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and vice chair of the governing Board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He served 20 years in the California Legislature, both in the State Assembly and State Senate. Involved in many crucial bipartisan initiatives, he was co-author of the groundbreaking California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). Learn about our other 2013 Silver SPUR honorees: How Chief Judge Karen Clopton Brings Transparency to Government >> How Dan Solomon Reimagines Urban Neighborhoods >> How Tom Layton...

Seeking Prosperity: What Prevents Access to Middle-Income Jobs?

October 29, 2013 By Tomiquia Moss, Community Planning Director
Many middle-income jobs have been lost since the economic meltdown and the competition for the jobs that remain leave low- and moderate-wage workers competing with people who have more experience and education. In this post, we focus on specific barriers affecting low- and moderate-wage workers.

Go Geary! New Momentum for Bus Rapid Transit

October 29, 2013 By Peter Lauterborn
Stalled for years in environmental review and public uncertainty, the project to build bus rapid transit on Geary Boulevard is gaining momentum, with new designs and a new target opening date. Bus rapid transit, or BRT, could provide a 30 percent decrease in travel times while providing a smoother ride. Modeled to resemble the comforts of rail transit, BRT provides many of the same benefits of light rail but at one-tenth of the cost. Features include dedicated traffic lanes, large waiting platforms and stations, prepaid boarding and modern vehicles. Voters mandated BRT on Geary with the passage of the Proposition K sales tax in 2003. The project is managed by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority under the guidance of a Citizens’ Advisory Committee . The improvements are much needed. The 38-Geary is the most used bus route west of the Mississippi, with more than 55,000 riders a day. The...

What's Next for Housing in SF?

October 29, 2013 By Sarah Karlinsky and Alyssa Kies
After a grueling recession and a long period of underbuilding, construction is making a vigorous comeback in San Francisco: The SF Planning Department reports more than 6,000 new units under construction. The backlash, however, comes in the form of rising rents— exacerbating unaffordability in what was already one of the country's least affordable cities.

Seeking Prosperity: The Facts About Low and Moderate Wage Workers

October 28, 2013 By Egon Terplan and Sara Tiller
Middle-wage jobs are becoming scarcer as more and more job growth takes place at the high and low ends of the wage spectrum. How can we create opportunity for low-wage workers to move up? Past efforts to address this issue have sometimes emphasized the differences between workers in different wage groups. But this often masks the specific information needed to solve the challenge.

The San Francisco Exodus

October 17, 2013 by Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director
The No. 1 crisis facing San Francisco today is the skyrocketing cost of housing. As high prices push people out, the City of Oakland faces a wave of new arrivals — and new challenges. Here's how we got into this situation, and what we can do about it.

What Bay Area Bike Share Will Need to Succeed

October 10, 2013 By María Gabriela Huertas Díaz
Since rolling out on August 29, Bay Area Bike Share has logged an estimated 21,138 bicycle trips and 4,380 casual members. Not bad for a pilot program. But in order for it to last — and grow — it’s important to ask how we can translate this initial success into a long-term one.

Alarming U.N. Climate Change Report May Be Too Conservative

October 8, 2013 by Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
Climate scientists have raised concerns that the latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is "too conservative," referring to its lowered projections on the range of future warming based on a slight lack of temperature increase over the last decade. Despite this possibly encouraging bit of news, the IPCC's fifth major assessment continues to report unequivocal warming due to human causes.

Saving San Francisco Building Owners Millions in Energy Costs

October 4, 2013 By Laura Hobbs and Laura Tam
Earlier this year a new ordinance requiring energy audits for existing commercial buildings in San Francisco went into effect. The audits identify upgrades a property owner can make to improve overall building efficiency. So far, the first 195 building audits have identified 32 gigawatt-hours of potential annual energy savings, with a value of $6 million. With thousands more audits slated to happen over the next two years, what kind of savings might we expect to see from this simple reporting requirement?

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