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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

The Bay Plan Amendment Closes in on Consensus

There’s something in it for everyone to hate and something for everyone to love, but after two years, we are optimistic: We may be very close to a consensus on how to amend the San Francisco Bay Plan with new information about climate change.

Exploring Ideas for the Future of Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach master planning process took a big step forward this month. The project team, led by SPUR, presented four “test scenarios” at its second public meeting on June 4. Based on input from our first public meeting in January, the scenarios explore the outcomes of very different approaches to managing coastal erosion, infrastructure and ecology at Ocean Beach until the year 2100. None was presented as a final answer; instead these test scenarios are extreme cases, intended to inform the conversation by mapping out the widest possible range of options. Here’s what they look at: Test Scenario A: Maximum Habitat This scenario prioritizes ecological restoration and accommodating natural processes through “managed retreat,” or allowing the shoreline to advance inland. It is the only scenario in which the project boundary moves inland, requiring major infrastructure reconstruction and the gradual acquisition of private property to allow for a wide beach...

Good Government Awards: How Dana Ketcham Modernized SF's Park Permits

June 15, 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. Dana Ketcham became involved in the Recreation and Park Department as a full-time volunteer when she spent two years redesigning the 103 athletic fields' reservation and permit system. She surveyed all field users and helped with public meetings to develop a season-by-season plan and online reservation and permit system. This new process added 35,000 hours of field playtime, more than doubling total field availability and capacity. Field users have enthusiastically received the outcome. She was then hired as the Reservation and Permits Manager and has completely automated all permits and reservation customer service functions by incorporating them into the recreation management database system – SFRecOnline. She led a staff reorganization to optimize customer service delivery, which has...

Will the City's Pension Proposal Really Solve the Pension Crisis?

In the coming weeks, the SF Board of Supervisors Rules Committee will be hearing the "consensus" proposal for pension reform, which Mayor Ed Lee and a coalition of the city’s labor unions released May 24. The board has until July to make amendments and vote on the proposal. The proposal, which projects savings of $1 billion over ten years, would: Require that city employees pay more for their benefits, rather than reducing benefits. Employee contributions to the pension fund would increase as the city’s contributions increase. Employees earning less than $50,000 per year would be exempted. Increase the retirement ages for new employees from 62 to 65 for most employees and from 55 to 58 for public safety employees. For new employees, calculate pensions based on the average of the last three years of service (instead of the last two years, as is the current practice). Amend the composition of...

San Francisco Crowned the ‘Coolest’ Climate-Ready City

The 108 Treasure Island bus. Photo by flickr user juicyrai . According to a recent analysis by the carbon-offset managers at CO2IMPACT , San Francisco tops the list of U.S. cities ready for climate change. The study gave us high marks for having committed political leaders, a proactive university community (11 SF schools are members of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) and the largest number of LEED certified buildings per capita in the United States. While it comes as no surprise to see San Francisco leading the way, a lot can be learned from other U.S. cities positioning themselves as leaders in "climate capitalism." Coming in second is Seattle, home to the country’s first major utility to become carbon neutral . Other West Coast cities in the top ten are San Diego — for making great strides in transitioning to an economy with reduced carbon...

4 BART Stations, 1,000 New Residences, 0 Added Footprint

Photo by Karen Chapple Accessory dwelling units — better known as cottages, in-law apartments or granny flats — could provide an estimated 1,000 new residences near selected BART stations, research by UC Berkeley Professor Karen Chapple shows. ADUs diversify and increase the housing stock without enlarging a neighborhood's footprint, while allowing senior citizens to find a smaller dwelling without leaving their neighborhood, or college graduates to afford of a modest room of their own. With Bay Area housing in perpetual short supply, ADUs could provide a much-needed supply-side boost. The catch? Existing zoning laws in the five-city study area of Albany, Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley and Oakland. Minimum lot sizes disqualify small properties from building ADUs, lot-coverage maximums and property-setback minimums restrict ADU placement and architectural design, and parking requirements—well, these stop many projects before they’re even started. Several cities require an additional unit of off-street parking for an added...

The Numbers: San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont Has 91.7% Transit Coverage

June 2, 2011 BY MICAH HILT
BART station in the East Bay, photo by flickr user travesty01 We definitely have work to do--that was the take home point of a recent Brookings Institute study , examining the top 100 metropolitan areas in the nation for transit access to jobs. While the study found that our area ranked fifth in the nation for access of transit to resident, only 35% of jobs are reachable within 90 minutes using public transportation. Overall though, California cities faired well nationally having four of the top 10 metro areas in the state, including Modesto, Silicon Valley and number two in the nation, Los Angeles. The study, while recognizing the successes of many transit systems, recommends that transportation leaders and local, state and national government should make transit access to jobs their explicit priority in spending and service decisions. This includes coordinated and strategic decisions regarding land use, economic development and housing...

Hidden Histories: The Oakland Museum of California

The recent renovation of the Oakland Museum of California by Mark Cavagnero Associates has brought much-deserved attention to this important Modernist design. But the original design of this Modern masterpiece deserves a closer look.

Good Government Awards: How JobsNow Put San Franciscans Back to Work

June 1, 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. The JobsNow Program was arguably the most innovative and effective subsidized employment program in the United States. During a time of high unemployment, the JobsNow team quickly built a local structure that put thousands to work in San Francisco. By acting fast and getting the word out to private and nonprofit employers, they were able to capture the largest amount per capita of any city in the country out of the Federal government's $5 billion in funding for subsidized employment. They were consistently ahead of target and had 1,000 people already enrolled in San Francisco at a time when no other city in the country had anyone enrolled. Upon termination of the program they had employed 4,127...

Ocean Beach Master Plan - Public Workshop #2

Please join us at the Golden Gate Park Senior Center on Saturday, June 4th for the Ocean Beach Master Plan Public Workshop #2 . The project team has been hard at work analyzing the impacts of different courses of action at Ocean Beach. You will have a chance to review several "test scenarios" and compare their outcomes in categories like ecology, infrastructure, and public access over a 100-year period. You can then work with us to assemble an approach that best serves the future of Ocean Beach. This session will include both presentation and interactive participation. If possible, please arrive at the beginning and stay for the whole session If you missed our first workshop or would like a refresher on the complex issues at Ocean Beach, please read our article in the SPUR Urbanist , or have a look at the workshop materials here . WHEN : Saturday, June...

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