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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

What San Franciscans Need to Know About Ranked-Choice Voting

November 3, 2011 By Corey Cook, University of San Francisco
In the weeks leading up to the November 8 election, San Franciscans find themselves up to their necks in news articles (from the Chronicle , the Mercury News and even The Economist ) about our ranked-choice voting (RCV) system and how the tallying of voters’ first, second, and third preferences might affect the outcome of the mayoral election. In principle, ranked-choice voting is simple: If no candidate receives an outright majority of the first place votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his or her votes are redistributed according to those voters’ next choice. The votes are re-tallied, the lowest vote-getter is eliminated, and so on. In what amounts to an instant run-off, this process of redistributing ballots continues until a winner is declared. As someone who studies voting systems (and spends free time poring over data from recent elections), I find the level of interest in...

How to Secure Transportation Funding? Commit to Growth

November 2, 2011 By Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director, and Aaron Bialick, SPUR intern
The Bay Area is in the midst of a major planning initiative to identify where to grow and how to allocate scarce transportation dollars over the next 30 years. City agencies have been consulted in the development of the Sustainable Communities Strategy, but recently they got a chance to respond publicly to the plan and raise concerns about its three proposed growth scenarios. SPUR agrees with much of the city’s response, but we differ on a few key points. Namely, we believe San Francisco should absorb a big share of future growth.

2011 Silver SPUR Awards: How Dale Minami Helped America Live up to Its Dream

November 1, 2011
Dale Minami has served as a Bay Area attorney for four decades, garnering nationwide recognition for his civil rights leadership in the process. A personal injury attorney with Minami Tamaki LLP by practice, Dale has made substantial contributions to the advancement of Asian-American rights. He helped found the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian American Bar Association, both the first of their kind in the United States. He has been involved in significant litigation concerning the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities, including Korematsu vs. United States, which overturned a 40-year-old conviction arising from the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Dale has also influenced public policy through his service on numerous state and federal judicial commissions. 2011 Silver SPUR Awards: Dale Minami from SPUR on Vimeo . Learn about the other 2011 Silver SPUR honorees: How Natalie Berg shaped the city and its young...

2011 Silver SPUR Awards: How Rick Laubscher Put SF's History to Work for the Future

November 1, 2011
Rick Laubscher is most well known for his transformative impact on Market Street’s historic streetcars, but his transportation advocacy and commitment to San Francisco’s important historic treasures extends well beyond the Market Street Railway. A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Rick and his family have long been engaged in the vibrant life of Market Street. Among his civic contributions, Rick served as founding board chair of The City Club of San Francisco, on SPUR’s board and transportation committee, and on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce board. Over his career, Rick has been a radio and television news reporter, a corporate public relations executive and a civic activist. 2011 Silver SPUR Awards: Rick Laubscher from SPUR on Vimeo . Learn about the other 2011 Silver SPUR honorees: How Natalie Berg shaped the city and its young people >> How Art Gensler built a firm to stand the test of time >> How...

2011 Silver SPUR Awards: How Art Gensler Built a Firm to Stand the Test of Time

November 1, 2011
Art Gensler is a business visionary who has transformed the industry of architecture and design through his entrepreneurial creativity and leadership. In 1965, he co-founded Gensler, a San Francisco architecture and design firm, now a 3,000-person firm with 30 offices worldwide. A Cornell University graduate, Art is on the Advisory Council of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning. Art’s civic leadership includes service to the Buck Institute for Aging, the California College of the Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As a founding member of the National AIA Committee on Interior Architecture, Art is an AIA Fellow and a professional member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. 2011 Silver SPUR Awards: Art Gensler from SPUR on Vimeo . Learn about the other 2011 Silver SPUR honorees: How Natalie Berg shaped the city and its young people >> How Rick Laubscher put SF's history to work...

2011 Silver SPUR Awards: How Natalie Berg Shaped the City and Its Young People

November 1, 2011
Natalie Berg , Ed.D., has influenced San Francisco as an educator, civic leader and land use consultant. In her 30 plus years at City College of San Francisco she has served as a professor, dean and most recently as an elected member and president of the Board of Trustees. Natalie recently retired from 12 years of service at Forest City Development, where she was responsible for obtaining the entitlements for the Westfield San Francisco Centre and now consults on land use issues. Natalie has served as the president of the Yerba Buena Alliance, vice president of the Market Street Association and as a member of numerous other community and neighborhood groups. 2011 Silver SPUR Awards: Natalie Berg from SPUR on Vimeo . Learn about the other 2011 Silver SPUR honorees: How Art Gensler built a firm to stand the test of time >> How Rick Laubscher put SF's history to...

To Fix Central Market, Start With a Strategy

October 26, 2011 By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
What’s the best way to revitalize Central Market? There isn’t one way, but many — and they all need to be coordinated with one another. While this sounds like an answer that Yoda might offer, we hope that the folks at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OWED) don’t have to rely on the Force alone to help finalize the Central Market Economic Strategy. The strategy is full of good ideas — and all will need substantial political support in order to be realized.

How to Negotiate a Greener Office

October 25, 2011 By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
Last week, the Bay Area's Business Council on Climate Change — which SPUR is a part of — released the Green Tenant Toolkit , an online resource for improving the sustainable performance of existing commercial buildings in San Francisco. The toolkit is designed to help commercial tenants, building owners and property managers collaborate to improve the energy efficiency and other sustainability metrics of their buildings. It is divided into three sections: 1. Green leases , including sample leases and key negotiation points in the leasing process; 2. Stakeholder engagement , which defines what the roles can be for owners, tenants and occupants in making buildings more green and outlines best practices in how they can interact and set goals; 3. Check lists , which include questions or metrics for understanding the sustainable performance of an existing building and identifying opportunities for the future. (For example, is electricity sub-metered? Does the...

San Francisco Gets Serious About Earthquakes

October 24, 2011 By Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director
Many of us in the Bay Area felt a series of sharp tremors on October 20 and 21 — coincidentally the same day that Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted would bring the Apocalypse. It might not be time for the Rapture just yet, but we do know the Big One is coming, and we want our buildings to be prepared. Fortunately, Mayor Ed Lee has released the first draft of San Francisco's Earthquake Safety Implementation Program.

Hidden Hub of the SF Food System: the Wholesale Produce Market

October 12, 2011 By Eli Zigas, Food Systems and Urban Agriculture Program Manager, and Jesse Sleamaker
At three in the morning, a four-block stretch of Jerrold Avenue in the Bayview neighborhood is abuzz with business. The San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market , which is busiest during the graveyard shift, is a hidden hub of San Francisco’s fresh food system. On a recent Friday, fifteen early-rising SPUR members gathered for a walking tour at 8 a.m. — the end of the day for most businesses at the market. Much of the Bay Area excitement around food focuses on either the farms where food is grown or the tables where it is consumed. Our tour of the Wholesale Produce Market gave us an inside look at the infrastructure and people between farm and table. The more than 25 wholesalers and distributors at the market serve as brokers between producers and retailers, balancing the fickle demand of buyers on one hand with a highly variable supply of produce on...

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