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California Forward Features Interview with Gabriel Metcalf

October 26, 2010
"The only way we're going to do something about sprawl, which is the environmental problem of our generation, is to increase density near transit and already urbanized areas." Watch the full interview with SPUR's Executive Director.

Canadian Suburbanites More Likely to Ride Transit than Americans

October 26, 2010 POSTED BY ED PARILLON
Jarrett Walker of Human Transit has an intriguing post comparing transit ridership in American cities to those in Canada. As you can see in the chart below (based on these data ), Canadian cities seem to have higher transit usage than American metro regions of similar size (the points on the chart are all based on metropolitan areas, not central cities). [Chart via: urbanist.typepad.com/ ] There's been a lot of speculation over at Human Transit as to why this might be, as the reasons aren't immediately obvious. Canada and the US are similarly wealthy places, and built their cities at similar times, unlike much older European metros. The type of transit offered also doesn't stick out as a key driver — San Francisco, DC, and Boston all have robust rail options, and still have a much lower transit share than Canadian counterparts. Digging a little, it seems that the disparity...

Loma Prieta Turns 21, a Sobering Reminder for a More Resilient San Francisco

October 22, 2010 COLEEN MCHUGH
Long-time and fair-weather Giants fans alike are enjoying a thrilling — yet quintessentially torturous — postseason this October, hoping for a fourth World Series trip since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Listening to postseason baseball commentary is often a lesson in history — or at least a lesson in obscure team records for most strikeouts in a playoff game or what players have hit the first three homeruns for their team in a postseason series. Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of another moment in Giants history — what would have been Game Three at Candlestick Park in the Battle of the Bay World Series against the Oakland A's. But as we well know, fans at Candlestick and across the Bay Area on that Tuesday evening in October were treated to a 6.9M earthquake instead of a baseball game. Loma Prieta may be drinking-aged, but this anniversary acts...

Election 2010 Resources

October 21, 2010
Election Day is fast approaching - make sure you're not stranded at the voting booth without all the right information. We've compiled a list of resources on San Francisco and statewide Props to help you navigate the ballot this November. SPUR Voter Guide: SPUR's official analysis of San Francisco's ballot measures, including detailed pros and cons, and an official position on each measure. California Choices: Non-partisan analysis of statewide ballot measures. There's also a complete list of ballot endorsements by non-profits, unions, newspapers, political parties and gubernatorial candidates. Legislative Analyst's Office: Government analysis from the state's non-partisan fiscal and policy advisor. California Budget Project: Analyses of state fiscal and tax Propositions, emphasizing their implications for middle- and low-income California residents. Ballotpedia: A ballot wiki and "interactive almanac of state politics." [Photo Credit: flickr user nshepard]

Brian O'Neill's Legacy Ensures a Bright Future for the GGNRA

October 20, 2010 BY HEATHER MACK
[Photos: left: flickr user armstrks , right: via SF Chronicle] "Nothing big happens in less than a decade," the late Brian O'Neill was quoted as saying. Those words from the ambitious superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (and longtime SPUR board member) who worked to transform one of the largest urban park districts in the country, still serve as a reminder when tackling giant projects, putting into perspective all that was accomplished during his tenure. During an evening symposium at SPUR on the future of the park, GGNRA Executive Director Greg Moore emphasized the importance of community partnerships and local stewardships to carry on O'Neill's legacy. When placed at the head of the 75,500- acre GGNRA — which encompasses San Francisco's Presidio , the Marin Headlands and portions of San Mateo County — in 1986, O'Neill's vision was "audaciously vast," said Moore. This was exemplified with the transformation...

Obama Talks Infrastructure

October 19, 2010 BY JENNIFER WARBURG
In a speech last week on infrastructure investment, President Obama recommitted his administration to a "fundamental overhaul" of the nation's infrastructure, following up on a previous Labor Day announcement that had excited smart growth advocates and set off speculation about the form such a "second stimulus" or "infrastructure bank" would take.

Personal Car Sharing Comes to California

October 13, 2010 BY FABIANA MEACHAM
Your neighbor's car could soon be available for hourly rental. Any takers? [Photo Credit: Fabiana Meacham ] Would you rent out your car to offset the costs of owning it? Would you get rid of your car if you could rent one from your neighbor? Until recently, those weren't legal options in California. But new legislation could dramatically increase the practice in the state. Starting in 2011, car owners will be able to maintain their personal insurance policies (albeit at a higher price) while renting their cars by the hour, helping them offset the costs and environmental impact of car ownership. Successful non-profit ventures like the Bay Area's City CarShare , which SPUR helped incubate, have led the way in promoting car sharing, encouraging many to give up their personal vehicles. A UC Berkeley study found that 30% of San Francisco households that used City CarShare sold at least one...

Three Things You Should Know about the Central Subway

October 12, 2010 BY ED PARILLON
The Central Subway project is the second phase of Muni's T-line, the biggest transit project in San Francisco today. Once completed in 2018, the line will connect Visitacion Valley and Bayview with downtown, SOMA, and Chinatown. As with any project this large, the project has its fair share of detractors, and we thought it would be useful to remind everyone of some of the benefits. 1. It will add capacity to a corridor that sorely needs it The Stockton corridor is one of Muni's busiest. According to data collected as part of Muni's Transit Effectiveness Project in 2006, the 30-Stockton and 45-Union/Stockton buses carry over 34,000 riders per day. These lines are often over capacity during peak hours, to the point where buses have to skip stops and leave riders waiting. The Central Subway will be able to take on some of that ridership, with 76,000 daily boardings expected in...

New Biography on Bay Area Environmental Champion

October 11, 2010 BY AMIE LATTERMAN
Dorothy Erskine: Graceful Crusader for the Environment doesn't exactly relay the magnitude of impact that one woman had on the entire Bay Area some 50 years ago. Janet Thiessen's brief biography delves into the life of a one-woman powerhouse whose influence is on par with other, more well-known civic leaders, like Dianne Feinstein, Willy Brown, Jr. and Harvey Milk. UC Berkeley geography professor Dick Walker recently reviewed Thiessen's story of "a pivotal figure in the history of Bay Area environmentalism." As Walker puts it, "[Erskine] was at work behind the scenes on almost all the defining moments of regional open space from the 1950s to 1970s," but even that hardly sums up her level of involvement in planning, good government, transportation, environmentalism and equity issues during the course of her life. Get a copy of the book here to read the story for yourself. Also, see this fascinating conversation between...

Datablog Roundup

October 7, 2010 BY JORDAN SALINGER
Operating with a much larger canvas than SF, and the ability to shape its surroundings, the planned Dubai City dwarfs SF and takes on the Bay Area Sprawl Crawl: A CEO's for Cities study shows sprawl as the true cause of traffic. As opposed to the Urban Mobility Report , which focuses specifically on travel times, this report takes into account such factors as land use and community design into its traffic calculations. GOOD magazine and Atley G. Kasky teamed up for this infographic. Journalism in the age of Data: How will the way we absorb data evolve? Where has the field of journalism started to drift, and what have we learned about what impacts us. Produced as part of the John S. Knight fellowship program at Stanford. Visualizing.org: A new initiative launched last week, with aims of becoming the ultimate resource for data sets and corresponding visualizations. Using an...

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