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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

Bay Area Visionary, Richard Goldman, Dies at 90

December 6, 2010 BY JENNIFER WARBURG
Last week the Bay Area lost one of its most generous and influential environmental leaders. Richard Goldman, co-founder of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, died at home on November 29. Through their family foundation, Richard and his wife Rhoda have given away hundreds of millions of dollars to a variety of arts and environmental initiatives. The Goldmans are perhaps best known for the Goldman Environmental Prize, a grant awarded to grassroots environmentalists around the world, often referred to as “the Green Nobel” and the most prestigious award of its kind. Yet, Mr. Goldman was also extremely engaged locally. He and his wife both grew up in San Francisco and spent their entire lives in this city. Richard has said in interviews that his commitment to the environment was first inspired on walks through Golden Gate Park. His charitable donations to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area have helped fund...

Are Smaller Homes Here to Stay?

November 18, 2010 BY FABIANA MEACHAM
[Photo Credit: flickr user Dean Terry ] The post-recession trend toward smaller homes in suburban communities has grown over the past few years – and as the economy continues to lag, it’s likely these more modest homes will only rise in popularity. It remains unclear, however, if Americans have really begun to reevaluate the excesses of 6.5 bathrooms and a “celebrity-style media and screening room,” or whether they’re just putting those dreams on hold for the time being. The building industry has certainly reacted to the American home-buyer’s current need for a more affordable, pared down lifestyle. A recent New York Times article featured Builder magazine’s 2010 “concept home,” a 1,700 square foot “Home for the New Economy.” A virtual tour of the house emphasizes the house's “roominess and livability,” low energy load and flexible interior spaces. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has also released a report on...

How to Improve the Bay Plan's Guidelines for Sea Level Rise

November 16, 2010 By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
Over the last two years, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has been working to amend its guidance document, the Bay Plan, to include new policies related to climate change and sea level rise.

SPUR Tours Recycle Central

November 10, 2010 BY MARK DREGER
Just because you can recycle it, doesn't mean you should be using it San Francisco is successful at many things, but there is one place where we shine above all other cities in the country – our recycling and compost programs. San Francisco was the first major city in the U.S. to implement a citywide curbside composting program open to all residents and businesses. Almost a decade after the program's initial roll-out, alongside an ever-expanding recycling program, San Francisco now boasts the highest waste diversion rate in the country – 77% in 2010 . This whopping figure exceeded even our own goals for the year, and we’re on track to keep improving next year. (See SPUR's Urbanist article "Toward zero waste" here .) The cooperation of both Recology (San Francisco's waste management company) and the City has created a gold standard for waste management -- one that Cities around the...

DIY Urbanism: An Interview with PlantSF Founder Jane Martin

November 9, 2010 BY JENNIFER WARBURG
This fall SPUR has featured the projects of local "Do-It-Yourself" urbanists in DIY Urbanism: testing the grounds for social change . In lean economic times, individuals have become the driving force behind some of the most successful initiatives to make San Francisco a better city, often providing the crucial impetus to address problems on a larger scale. SPUR spoke with Jane Martin, whose image as a jack-hammer wielding advocate for greener sidewalks has made her emblematic of the do-it-yourself spirit. Jane is a local designer, professor and founder of PlantSF , a non-profit which helps homeowners turn excess concrete into exposed-earth gardens. Many San Franciscans are familiar with sight of sidewalks up to and over 20 feet in breadth. Such expanses of impermeable surface are are hostile to essential natural processes, exacerbating stormwater runoff, air pollution and urban heat islands. Since moving to San Francisco's Mission district, Jane had struggled...

World Series Also a Victory for BART

November 4, 2010 POSTED BY ED PARILLON
[Photo Credit: flickr user NicoleAbalde ] As those who follow the Bay Area transit blogosphere already know, Wednesday's Giants World Series victory parade spurred BART on to its highest ridership ever"” by a huge margin . The system carried over half a million riders — 522,000 to be exact, which beat the previous record (from Oct 29, 2009, when the Bay Bridge was closed for emergency repairs) by 18%. BART wasn't the only regional system with a bumper day either : Caltrain carried 25,000 — 30,000 more riders than an average weekday (about 37,000 riders), and Golden Gate Transit more than doubled its typical ridership of 5,200, taking 12,800 people into the city. While it was great for so many Giants fans to choose mass transit, the crowds put a spotlight on BART's capacity issues — at one point, the crowds were large enough to require a temporary closure of...

Exploring Future Job Centers of the Bay Area: Hacienda Park, a Midpoint for the Megaregion

November 2, 2010 BY POONAM NARKAR
Across the Bay Area, only one in 10 commuters takes transit work each day. And half of those transit commuters go to one job center: downtown San Francisco. But since most work is outside of downtowns, SPUR is trying to understand a little more about emerging suburban and non-downtown job centers. This series will look at the Bay Area's evolving and emerging business districts. For each district, we will ask four main questions: The Location: Where is this place located? How far or near to major transit? And how large from one end to the other? The Plan : What was the planning vision for this place? Was it master-planned? Did it grow up organically? The Market: What kinds of jobs and companies are located there? The Commute: How are workers getting to their jobs each day and why? In the second edition of this series, we will explore Hacienda...

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...

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