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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

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

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...

Traffic Safety in the Age of the Bicycle

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,...

The Chronicle Building's Latest Transformation

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...

How Do We Get DENSER?

June 20, 2011 BY DALEEN SAAH
Image credit: flickr user baldheretic Due to overwhelming demand pre-registration for this event is closed. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. This Tuesday night SPUR will host DENSER , a "Pecha Kucha" night on density, infill and urban development. What's Pecha Kucha? Named after the Japanese word for conversation or “chit chat,” it's a place for designers and other thinkers to showcase their work to the public. In Pecha Kucha's patented fast-and-furious format, presenters are allowed to show 20 slides -- each for just 20 seconds. That's a total of about 6.5 minutes to quickly convey one's ideas or work to the audience, allowing for a greater number of voices and more idea swapping. Pecha Kucha originated in Tokyo in 2003. Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture came up with the events as a way for young designers in architecture and other...

Will Bay Area Cities Survive the Next Big Disaster?

June 16, 2011 By Sarah Karlinsky
What happens the next time we have a major earthquake on the Hayward or San Andreas Fault? What should we be doing right now to make sure we are prepared? The Association of Bay Area Governments considered these questions at its forum “ Shaken Awake: Creative Ways to Strengthen Housing and Promote Resilience in Today’s Economy .”

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