By Micah Hilt
In the history of San Francisco city planning, 2011 may go down as the year of the parklet. The idea to make streets more livable by converting parking spaces into public places debuted in SF in 2010, thanks to the city’s Pavement to Parks project , but the concept really took off this year. SF has welcomed 10 new parklets in 2011, for a current total of 15, and will add as many as 12 more by the end of the year.
BY MICHAEL BARKER
Since President Obama launched his Open Government Directive in December 2009, tech-savvy urban thinkers have been asking, "How can technology improve government and empower communities?" Although the Open Government Initiative suffered a hit when its funding was cut from $35 million to $8 million, nonprofits around the country such as Code For America have continued bringing open government to the forefront of public discussion. This summer, the Gray Area Foundation of the Arts is hosting San Francisco's first annual " Summer of Smart ," a three-month-long program of interactive workshops and seminars exploring the emerging role of the Internet in government. SPUR is proud to be co-sponsoring these events. The Summer of Smart kicked off in June with programs including a 48-hour intensive "hackathon for everyone" that looked at community development and public art. The event drew a crowd of urban designers, programmers, artists, teachers and government officials, who broke...
By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
There's been a lot of hullabaloo about San Francisco's Mid-Market area lately, mostly focused on the new payroll tax exemption for businesses that locate in the neighborhood and the planned CityPlace Project , a major retail development, both approved by the city last September. But a gaggle of planners and economic development experts are already working hard to transform this area into an arts district anchored by a redesigned Market Street.
By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
In the 1970s, we crossed a global threshold when the rate of human demand for natural resources began to outpace the rate at which nature could provide them. How do we know this? By measuring our “ecological footprint” — natural resource consumption as a function of goods and services purchased. Recently SPUR and the Global Footprint Network released a study of San Francisco's ecological footprint.
BY COLLEEN MCHUGH
What would make a morning commute on BART a more enjoyable, engaging and productive experience? Bike repairs? Coffee and snacks? Book clubs? Short films? Spinning classes? Speed dating? These are a few of the playful ideas local art collective REBAR explores as redesigns for BART car interiors in their project you are bART. The piece is part of the inaugural Sister City Biennial exhibition Urbanition , co-produced by the San Francisco Arts Commission and Sydney-based CarriageWorks and on view at the SFAC Gallery through this Saturday. Urbanition includes three works from San Francisco-based artists and three from Sydney-based artists, each tasked with proposing visionary solutions for a more humane, green and livable future for the two cities. This Wednesday, June 29, SPUR hosts a lunchtime forum with the exhibition's three San Francisco-based artists: REBAR , Amy Balkin , whose piece would transform the Sutro Baths into a Sydney-style public beach,...
By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director
Work on Senate Bill 375, California's anti-sprawl legislation, continued last month with a joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments. The question at hand: Should MTC and ABAG approve a set of five alternative growth scenarios to further analyze? Each scenario includes a set of assumptions about where growth will go, what will be spent on transportation in the region's urban core vs. at its edge, and what tools will be used to change travel behavior and development.
SPUR’s 31st annual Good Government Awards, held earlier this year, honored five City of San Francisco employees and teams who have performed exceptionally, becoming models for other agencies and cities around the country. In recognition of her vital role in the City, her leadership in developing the City's Infectious Disease Response Plan and for her exemplary response to the 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 Influenza, Dr. Susan Fernyak has been selected for a 2011 MFAC Public Managerial Excellence Award. Dr. Fernyak's response to the H1N1 epidemic was not only an exceptional response for the City and County of San Francisco, but also influenced and changed the way the state and federal government as well as many other cities responded to the epidemic. It allowed for vaccines to be available in San Francisco a week before any neighboring counties and kept the number of H1N1 cases per capita lower than in...
BY COLE ARMSTRONG
After observing aggressive and dangerous behavior by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on New York City streets, designer Ron Gabriel decided to focus his master’s thesis at the School of Visual Arts on the danger posed by a single NYC intersection. He shot hours of video footage of Park Avenue and 28th Street, edited together clips of accidents and near-accidents, and used video-game-like graphics to highlight the motorists, cyclists and pedestrians involved. The resulting video focuses on the “bad behavior” that causes dangerous situations at intersections, where, according to Gabriel, 74 percent of NYC’s accidents occur. He calls the video “an attempt to clearly illustrated very specific behaviors that, if adjusted, would make a huge difference in our streets and our quality of life.” 3-Way Street from ronconcocacola on Vimeo . It’s easy to point out what activities are dangerous and illegal in Gabriel’s video: pedestrians jaywalking, bikes travelling against traffic,...
BY GRETCHEN HILYARD
Since the DeYoung Brothers first founded the The Daily Dramatic Chronicle in 1865, the home of San Francisco’s pioneering newspaper has been an incubator for ideas and innovation. Within a decade of its founding, the San Francisco Chronicle had the largest circulation of any newspaper west of the Mississippi River. The company has moved twice since then, and its headquarters buildings have always represented changing ideas about design and planning in the city. Today that's more true than ever: the Chronicle’s current home at 901 Mission Street is part of the 5M project , a redevelopment project that fosters innovation by providing space, funding and counseling to startup companies. This Tuesday, June 21, SPUR will hold a forum on artisan manufacturing at TechShop, a member-based workshop located at 926 Howard Street and part of the 5M block. Before we visit this latest incarnation, let's look back at the history and...