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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

New SPUR Program: Food Systems and Urban Agriculture

July 17, 2011 By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager
We are what we eat. It’s true for people — but also for cities and regions. The food we consume and the system that produces, distributes and disposes of it are as vital to San Francisco and the Bay Area as our systems for housing, energy, water and governance. That's why SPUR has launched a new Food Systems and Urban Agriculture policy program that will strengthen both the food system within the city and the region’s network of farms and distributors.

Redevelopment Is Dead. Long Live Redevelopment!

July 17, 2011 By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
This year has been a wild one for redevelopment agencies in in California. First California voters passed Proposition 22, which prevented the state from raiding redevelopment agency funds. Then Governor Jerry Brown vowed to abolish redevelopment agencies and got fairly close to doing so. Now redevelopment agencies have once again headed to the chopping block, only this time it’s for real.

Mapping the Parklet Craze: Where to See the Urban Design Trend of the Year

July 12, 2011 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.

Summer of Smart: Using Technology to Transform our Government

July 11, 2011 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...

Could Mid-Market Become SF's Next Hot Neighborhood?

July 7, 2011 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.

Measuring San Francisco's Ecological Footprint

July 5, 2011 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.

Urbanition: SF and Sydney Artists Re-think Our Use of Public Space

June 27, 2011 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,...

Should We Plan for Sprawl?

June 23, 2011 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.

Good Government Awards: How Susan Fernyak Prevented an H1N1 Disaster

June 22, 2011
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...

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