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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

2012 Silver SPUR: How Dr. Edward Chow Champions Healthcare for All

November 12, 2012
Edward A. Chow, M.D., a native San Franciscan, has been addressing health needs, access and disparities for more than four decades. Working with the Chinese Hospital and its physicians, he helped create the Chinese Community Health Plan, the nation’s first culturally competent health plan dedicated to the needs of an Asian community. He has served under five mayors on the San Francisco Health Commission, where he advocated for the rebuilding of its two public hospitals and established neighborhood primary care clinics. He is a founder and leader of numerous organizations, including most recently the National Council of Asian and Pacific Islander Physicians. Learn about our other 2012 Silver SPUR honorees: How Mildred Howard Creates Community With Art >> How Rabbi Stephen Pearce's Interfaith Collaboration Builds a Better City >> How John K. Stewart Brings Equity to the Housing Market >>

2012 Silver SPUR Awards: How Mildred Howard Creates Community With Art

November 12, 2012
Mildred Howard is an acclaimed mixed-media installation artist, activist, teacher, mother and grandmother, born and raised in the Bay Area. The Oakland Museum of California, the de Young Museum, SFMOMA, the San Jose Museum of Art and the Museum of the African Diaspora have all exhibited her work. She has received prestigious grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Local works include Three Shades of Blue on Fillmore Street and The Music of Language on Glide Memorial’s family housing building. With an eye toward the built environment and its impact on daily life, Mildred has shaped how we experience the public realm. Learn about our other 2012 Silver SPUR honorees: How Dr. Edward Chow Champions Healthcare for All >> How Rabbi Stephen Pearce's Interfaith Collaboration Builds a Better City >> How John K. Stewart Brings Equity to the Housing...

2012 Silver SPUR: How Rabbi Stephen Pearce's Interfaith Collaboration Builds a Better City

November 12, 2012
Stephen S. Pearce, D.D., Ph.D., is senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. During his tenure, he started the temple’s hunger justice initiative and founded a long-standing collaboration with San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church. Rabbi Pearce is an active member in the city’s interfaith community, coauthoring Building Wisdom’s House: A Book of Values for Our Time with Bishop William E. Swing and Father John P. Schlegel. Before coming to Congregation Emanu-El, Rabbi Pearce was on faculty for 20 years at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. While on faculty at St. John’s University he earned his Ph.D. in counselor psychology. Learn about our other 2012 Silver SPUR honorees: How Dr. Edward Chow Champions Healthcare for All >> How Mildred Howard Creates Community With Art >> How John K. Stewart Brings Equity to the Housing Market >>

2012 Silver SPUR: How John K. Stewart Brings Equity to the Housing Market

November 12, 2012
John K. Stewart is a pillar in the real estate development and affordable housing communities of the Bay Area. A longtime SPUR board member, he is founder of The John Stewart Company, which has a management portfolio of more than 30,000 units in 400 properties. A key ally of Mayor Newsom in launching HOPE SF, he has been the creative force behind some of the Bay Area’s most complex affordable housing deals, including a transit-oriented mixed-use project adjacent to the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station and North Beach Place, a 341-unit mixed-use HOPE VI project. He has been instrumental in facilitating unique project ownership structures and is committed to the creation and preservation of sound, long-term affordable housing. Learn about our other 2012 Silver SPUR honorees: How Dr. Edward Chow Champions Healthcare for All >> How Mildred Howard Creates Community With Art >> How Rabbi Stephen Pearce's Interfaith Collaboration...

Financing the Urban Forest

November 6, 2012 By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
Besides making our streets prettier, what does our urban forest of street, park and backyard trees do for us? Trees are good for cities in lots of ways. They significantly increase property values. They provide shade, keeping energy demand in check on hot days and cooling the pedestrian realm. They clean the air, sequester carbon (slowly reducing global warming), provide habitat for birds, make streets more walkable and reduce urban flooding by retaining stormwater: A single tree may intercept and absorb up to 2,400 gallons a year. A recent SPUR report discussed the future climate-adaptive benefits of trees in helping to mitigate urban heat-island effect , the phenomenon where heavily urbanized areas become significantly warmer than nearby areas due to heat-retaining materials like concrete and asphalt. We recommended that cities conduct a tree-canopy census and identify opportunities for better shade-tree coverage in underserved and intensely urbanized areas. (A crowd-sourced map...

SPUR's Leah Toeniskoetter Profiled in Content Magazine

November 5, 2012
The Fall 2012 issue of Content magazine highlights SPUR’s recent expansion to San Jose in a terrific profile of our San Jose director, Leah Toeniskoetter. A passionate cyclist and former Peace Corps volunteer with a background in real estate development, Toeniskoetter is pleased with the work that's been accomplished over the past year and is excited for what's ahead. “There are 500,000 people coming to San Jose in the next several decades,” she explains. “SPUR is excited to think deeply about where they will live, work, shop and play.” The city's future, she says, is urban: “We want to live in a walkable, active place with viable alternatives to driving and the ability to live close to work, parks and our basic needs.” Download a pdf of the article >>

No Question: California Is in Fiscal Crisis

October 18, 2012 By Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
Three California cities have filed for bankruptcy protection since June. Since 2008, local governments in California have shrunk by nearly 190,000 employees and property values over the same period declined by 21.3 percent. What comes next? The Institute for Government Studies at the University of California at Berkeley convened an impressive panel of experts last month to move that debate forward.

Improving Access to Fresh Food Across San Francisco

October 18, 2012 by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
San Francisco is known internationally for its celebration of food. The city can boast of top restaurants; nationally acclaimed grocers, bakers and butchers; a thriving fleet of food trucks; and bountiful farmers’ markets. But these food retailers are not distributed equally across the city. While San Franciscans in many neighborhoods can take a short walk or ride and find a greengrocer or supermarket, in some parts of the city, food access is more difficult. The Department of Public Health has mapped the distribution of existing food retailers as part of its Sustainable Communities Index program. The results show that a number of neighborhoods — including Treasure Island, the Tenderloin, Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley, among others — have limited to no fresh food retail options. While a full service grocery store is never more than a couple of miles away in a city as dense as San Francisco, the lack...

PARK(ing) Day and the Legacy of Iterative Placemaking

October 10, 2012 By Jennifer Warburg
On September 21 SPUR celebrated PARK(ing) Day with an original form of alchemy: transforming asphalt into mini-golf and pizza. The annual event, celebrated in more than 160 cities, invites the public to reimagine metered parking spots as new types of urban space— a temporary disruption that invites the community to inhabit and new spaces and give shape to the permanent solution.

SPUR Launches San Jose Urban Design Initiative

October 2, 2012 By Benjamin Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager
SPUR’s San Jose office is convening a task force of city officials and planning and development thought leaders to tackle a vexing question: How can the nation’s tenth largest city transform its historically suburban built environment into one that supports an active street life, greater use of transit and a stronger urban fabric? San Jose has charted an ambitious course through its new 2040 General Plan ; one of the major goals is to concentrate development in key areas called urban villages. These villages, mostly located along major transit lines, aim to support reductions in solo driving and associated carbon emissions while creating a more engaging, livable city that can compete for the creative workforce that is driving today’s tech economy. As the city initiates a local planning process for these areas, a critical opportunity emerges to get the placemaking details right. SPUR’s initiative will focus on physical planning and...

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