• News

    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

The Future of Chinatown’s Stockton Street

January 25, 2012 By Sam LaTronica
How can a rich historical space welcome visitors and new community members while ensuring that it continues to work for current residents? This question is central to the future of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Stockton Street, one of the busiest corridors in the city, must decide how to accommodate additional growth and change in the coming years. To address these concerns while maintaining affordable housing, transit equity, pedestrian safety and a sense of community, SPUR and the Chinatown Community Development Center are undertaking a re-envisioning process for Stockton Street. Join us!

Life After Redevelopment

January 24, 2012 by Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director
On December 20, the California Supreme Court upheld the legislature’s elimination of redevelopment agencies. Each city now needs to figure out how to do what has been traditionally been done with redevelopment funds. What does this surprising turn of events mean for the urbanist agenda in California?

The Trouble With Ranked-Choice Voting

January 6, 2012 By Corey Cook
Professor Corey Cook responds to Professor Rich Deleon's criticism of Cook's original Urbanist article covering ranked choice voting.

In Defense of Ranked-Choice Voting

January 6, 2012 By Rich DeLeon*
Professor Corey Cook’s article in the December 2011 Urbanist assesses San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting (RCV) system in the 2011 mayoral election. His opening statement concludes that “by most objective measures the system held up rather well: The election results were clear and uncontroversial, individual ballots contained fewer errors than in past contests and most voters chose to participate fully by ranking their first-, second- and third-choice candidates.” This would seem to be an occasion for high-fives and popping champagne corks. But Cook sees problems with RCV, lots of them. He has “deeper questions” about the effects of RCV on such things as the degree to which the election outcome “accurately reflects popular opinion,” the voter turnout rate, the level of negative campaigning, the perceived legitimacy of election results viewed as a mandate to govern, the informational burdens placed on voters in ranking candidates, and the incidence of voting errors. He...

Starting a Garden or Farm in San Francisco

January 3, 2012 by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Starting a garden or farm in San Francisco just got a little bit easier. Pulling together the most recent changes to city laws, the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance recently released a guide to the regulations for growing and selling food within San Francisco . The guide covers a host of topics including: Finding land Gardening on private versus public land Water access Selling what you grow Specific sections on rooftop gardens, animal husbandry, and soil testing. The booklet was produced based on the guidance of staff from eight city agencies, ranging from the County Agricultural Commissioner to the Department of Building Inspections . It consolidates, for the first time, the specific wording of agency rules as well as relevant departmental contact information. The guide won't help your plants or animals thrive, but it does serve as a road map to the rules and policies specific to the City for...

2012 Piero N. Patri Fellowship: Call for Applications

December 21, 2011
SPUR is pleased to issue a call for applicants for a twelve-week fellowship in the summer of 2012. The Piero N. Patri Fellowship in Urban Design is a hands-on position for a current graduate student or 2010/2011 graduate in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture or a related field. The fellowship provides the opportunity to gain firsthand experience working in the urban design and planning field on a project that will have a positive impact on the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area.

California's Latest Experiment in Democracy: Deliberative Polling

December 19, 2011 By Corey Marshall, Good Government Policy Director
Ever the pioneer in the political process, California is once again experimenting with its democracy, this time with new approach to helping the public understand reform proposals. Conducted earlier this year, the What’s Next California Project is California’s first state-wide deliberative poll, in which a random sample of the population is polled on important public-policy issues, then gathers to discuss them and is polled again. Is this the future of polling?

Should We Change the Structure of the Bay Area’s Regional Government?

December 15, 2011 By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
This is a time of significant flux in the Bay Area’s regional planning landscape. There is a serious proposal in the California State Legislature to change the way the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is governed and increasing talk about whether it and other regional agencies can play a stronger role in economic development.

The Chickens and Goats Next Door: an Oakland Snapshot

December 5, 2011 by Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Urban animal husbandry, though nothing new, is a cause for concern for many people – especially planners. Chickens, rabbits, bees and goats conjure up nightmares of odors, noises and animal cruelty. When Oakland’s planning department held a meeting to discuss changes to urban agriculture regulations, nearly 300 people showed. Like many other jurisdictions nationwide, the city is proceeding cautiously as it updates its animal regulations.

Letting San Francisco's Streets Go Both Ways

December 1, 2011 By Aaron Bialick
In San Francisco, traffic planners are reversing the outdated, 20th-century strategy of engineering downtown streets into multi-lane, one-way motorways. Last month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) converted a one-way commercial stretch of eastern Hayes Street to a calmer two-way traffic configuration. It’s just one project in a larger move toward making streets less focused on whisking cars through town and returning them to places for walking, bicycling, efficient transit and civic life. In August, the SFMTA also converted McAllister Street for two-way traffic, and it is developing similar plans for the east end of Haight Street and several streets in the Tenderloin and SoMa districts. The paradigm of multi-lane, one-way streets dominated urban transportation planning in the United States after World War II, resulting in the widespread conversion of downtown streets into one-way thoroughfares. The sounds, smells and sense of danger from fast-moving car traffic have driven pedestrians,...

Get Email Updates

Get SPUR news and events delivered straight to your email inbox.

Sign up now