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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

The Numbers: 30.3% of San Francisco Households Do Not Have a Vehicle

May 13, 2011 MICAH HILT
Compare this to the national picture: only 8.7% of U.S. household don't have cars . While we're certainly ahead of most parts of the country on carfree living, this still means that more than two thirds of San Francisco households do own a car -- and a higher percentage of San Franciscans, 38.9%, use their cars to drive alone to work. The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency recently released its 2011 Climate Action Strategy , a plan to substantially reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions. The report provides a point by point breakdown of the City’s current transportation situation and lays out clear plans to improve alternatives to car usage in and to San Francisco. Suggestions include supporting other modes of transit, like bikes and transit, supporting TOD projects, demand pricing on travel and parking, and creating "complete streets" that allow for many modes of transportation and usage. Read the...

Good Government Awards: How Cheryl Nashir Increased Retail Sales at SFO

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. Cheryl Nashir received an award in recognition of her leadership and vision in making San Francisco Airport a vibrant marketplace and increasing revenue. Since joining the Airport in 2006 she has developed and managed a dynamic mix of food and beverage, retail stores, advertising programs and other services, with the majority of selected businesses operating in the Bay Area. This has resulted in a 24% increase in the Airport’s revenue, totaling $98.7 million annually. This boost in revenue means the airport contributes $3 million to the city’s General Fund, during a time when the city faces enormous budget deficits. In addition, Nashir’s successful concessions program for Terminal 2 will generate $4.6 million to the Airport and $700,000...

The Numbers: SF Bike Rental Revenue Up 2,000% Since 1998

SPUR has made the case that an expanded bike network gives residents a safer option to add exercise and subtract carbon from their transportation diet. Better bike infrastructure would benefit tourism as well — although visitors are already discovering the pleasures of biking San Francisco: in 1998, bike rental businesses in San Francisco had combined earnings of $500,000. Thirteen years later, that figure has ballooned to $10 million , according to a post on Streetsblog. These numbers, provided by Darryll White, CEO of Bike and Roll San Francisco, show tourists voting with their feet: even without a fully developed bicycle infrastructure, visitors want to explore the city without a windshield in the way. Bicycle tourism is a growth opportunity, and just one more reason why "bikeability" is a critical component of San Francisco's future — and a critical component of SPUR's recommendations for Fisherman's Wharf (pdf), and the Embarcadero (pdf).

Why We Need to Start Planning for Climate Change — Now

May 9, 2011
On May 4 SPUR released a major report, " Climate Change Hits Home ," that lays out what the Bay Area must do to start preparing for the coming effects of climate change. This project, a multi-year effort by a team of top climate scientists and government leaders, represents a turning point for SPUR. We have long worked to stop climate change, but now we are also addressing the reality that some climate change is inevitable, despite our best efforts. Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases tomorrow, emissions already in the air would continue to warm the atmosphere. By 2050, we'll have nearly eight times as many dangerously hot days as we did in the 20th century. Sea levels are expected to rise 55 inches by 2100. And we need to start readying our railroads, highways, water supply, public health infrastructure and energy grid for the changes to come...

The Joys of Density: a Blogging Bird Reminds Us Why We Love Cities

May 3, 2011 By Karen Steen
The back window of our office here at SPUR looks out on a building with an entertaining tenant, a green Pacific Parrotlet who has free range of his studio apartment and an impressive collection of plastic toys. After observing his activities, we became curious about our feathered neighbor and Tweeted him the old-fashioned way. We taped a note up in the window: Hi green bird! We think you’re awesome. What’s your name? He responded quickly with his own sign: Hello SPUR I am Rico, a 7-month-old male Pacific Parrolet (they call me Parrolito) We replied with a new note: Rock on, Rico! We like your style. - Your fans @ SPUR Rico’s next note informed us that he had a blog, where he had posted about our fandom . The conversation ended just as quickly as it had begun, like so many of the brief yet intense interactions we have...

Which Transportation Projects Will We Give up on to Help Reduce Emissions?

April 26, 2011 BY STEPHEN TU
Tomorrow, April 27, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) will vote on a final Committed Funds and Projects Policy for Plan Bay Area . This policy mouthful is an important step in defining which regional transportation projects will receive funding and which ones must undergo more thorough analysis. The vote will determine how many transportation projects will be scrutinized for their impact on greenhouse gases, driving, economic growth and other factors. Affected projects in could include highway widening, the Oakland Airport Connector and BART to San Jose. The issue before the MTC: deciding which projects are so far along that they shouldn’t be analyzed yet again under new criteria. The projects that are not further analyzed are considered “committed” and will be automatically included in the next Regional Transportation Plan. These committed projects will be included in all scenarios projecting the Bay Area’s future growth. What’s different this year: the next...

Good Government Awards: How Capital Planning Manages SF's Investment Priorities

April 19, 2011 BY COLE ARMSTRONG
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 city’s Capital Planning Program team was honored for its ability to bring together a large group of city officials and reach a consensus on capital investment priorities. Created by city legislation in August 2005, the four-person team analyzes the city’s existing infrastructure and determines the need for maintenance and improvements. The team studies data on past construction costs, maintenance costs, inflation and market trends in order to estimate the costs of maintenance to existing infrastructure, the costs of completing new projects, and the fiscal consequences of delaying these undertakings. Based on these estimates, Capital Planning then makes recommendations about which projects should take priority and how they should be funded — a vital service during times...

SPUR Tours: Discovering District 8 With Supervisor Scott Weiner

April 19, 2011 BY MICAH HILT
SF Supervisor Scott Wiener led a tour of District 8 on April 14. All too often what’s great about living in a city can become a blur: just shops and people and buses and sidewalks we quickly pass while rushing off to our next thing to do. Thursday's District 8 walking tour with San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener gave 20 SPUR and community members a welcome chance to slow down and look deeply at a small piece of our city. Supervisor Wiener talks about the success of merchants on 18th Street. Walking west on 18th Street, taking us from the district boundary to the heart of the Castro, Wiener focused on change. He pointed out the booming success of merchants on 18th and Gurerro and the upcoming 70th anniversary of Cliff’s Hardware on Castro Street. The tour stops at the former site of Harvey Milk's camera shop on Castro Street...

Park Circa: Can an iPhone App Facilitate More Compact Living?

April 18, 2011 By Jordan Salinger
According to the SFMTA, 30 percent of traffic in San Francisco is simply drivers looking for parking . That’s not just a huge waste of time — it’s also a carbon-emissions nightmare. But new digital tools are helping city dwellers engage with the automobile in smarter and more efficient ways. Last week San Francisco launched extended hours on some SFPark smart parking meters , which aim to use real-time data to reduce the difficulty of finding public parking spaces. And earlier this year, two entrepreneurs launched Park Circa , a smart phone app that makes better use of another urban resource: privately owned parking spots. Park Circa establishes relationships between car drivers and parking-spot owners, allowing SF residents to charge a minimal fee to park in their driveway or other private space whenever they’re not occupying it. Drivers use the app to select the neighborhood they intend to visit, look...

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