Community Planning

Our goal: Build great neighborhoods.

SPUR's community planning agenda:

• Conduct neighborhood planning within a regional context.
• Preserve our most important historic resources while allowing for growth and change.
• Create new buildings that exemplify the highest quality architecture.
• Make public spaces that people love to spend time in.

Read more from SPUR’s Agenda for Change

Neighborhood Planning

  • SPUR Report

    Taking Down a Freeway to Reconnect a Neighborhood

    Highway 280 and the Caltrain railyards create barriers between SoMa, Potrero Hill and Mission Bay. But San Francisco has the opportunity to advance bold new ideas to enhance both the transportation system and the public realm.

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  • SPUR Report

    The Future of Downtown San Francisco

    The movement of jobs to suburban office parks is as much of a threat to the environment as residential sprawl — if not a greater one. Our best strategy is to channel more job growth to existing centers, like transit-rich downtown San Francisco.

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  • SPUR Report

    The Future of Downtown San Jose

    Downtown San Jose is the most walkable, transit-oriented place in the South Bay. But it needs more people. SPUR identifies six big ideas for achieving a more successful and active downtown.

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  • SPUR Report

    A Downtown for Everyone

    Downtown Oakland is poised to take on a more important role in the region. But the future is not guaranteed. An economic boom could stall — or take off in a way that harms the city’s character, culture and diversity. How can downtown grow while providing benefits to all?

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  • Urbanist Article

    The Future of the Berryessa BART Station

    As BART arrives in Silicon Valley, San Jose has a unique chance to shape growth around its first station. Land uses that support BART ridership will be key to the success of Berryessa Station — and the future of the area around it.

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Public Spaces

  • SPUR Report

    Getting to Great Places

    San Jose's ambitious General Plan imagines a dramatic shift away from suburban landscapes to “complete neighborhoods” that provide services and amenities close to homes, jobs and transit. SPUR recommends changes in policy and practice to get there.

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  • White Paper

    A Roadmap for St. James Park

    Like older downtown parks throughout the country, San Jose’s St. James Park has suffered from disinvestment in recent years. SPUR recommends steps to create a renewed vision for the park through improved stewardship and governance.

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  • SPUR Report

    Secrets of San Francisco

    Dozens of office buildings in San Francisco include privately owned public open spaces or “POPOS.” SPUR evaluates these spaces and lays out recommendations to improve existing POPOS and guide the development of new ones.

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  • Piero N. Patri Fellowship

    The Piero N. Patri Fellowship in Urban Design offers firsthand experience working in the urban design and planning field on a project that will have a positive impact on San Francisco and the Bay Area.

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Historic Resources

  • SPUR Report

    Historic Preservation in San Francisco

    San Francisco's distinctive architecture is one of its great assets. It’s critical to protect this historic fabric while supporting growth and change in the right locations. How can the city integrate preservation into its processes for land use planning?

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New Buildings

  • Project Review

    SPUR’s Project Review Committee evaluates proposals for individual buildings in San Francisco based on their potential to enhance the vitality of city life. The committee ams to create a greater constituency for good urbanism through practical example.

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  • White Paper

    Cracking the Code

    Great urban design is essential to creating sustainable, walkable cities. But some city codes undermine urban design principles. How might San Jose raise the bar? By addressing the ground rules of design within the municipal code.

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Advanced Search

  • Find more of SPUR's community planning research

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Updates and Events

Greening Paris

News December 1, 2009
Fall programming concluded November 18th with bikes, parks and policy in the City of Light. Writer and lecturer Marilyn Clemens illustrated current trends in Parisian roadway and park design, which follow the geometry of the classical era, while also redefining the purpose of public space. The Alliance Française generously sponsored the event. Clemens reported walking as the most popular method of circulation, and the city of Paris plans accordingly for its pedestrians. From small alleys to the Champs-Élysées, streets of all sizes have taken lanes away from cars and given to pedestrians. Cyclists are also a priority, with over 230 miles of new bikeways in the works. And while bicycle sharing has faced challenges , Vélib’ remains popular throughout France. A partnership of the planning department with the department of the environment prompted a new focus on sustainability in the parks, using educational programs and exhibitions to promote the message...

Planning on the Edge: A Conversation with Six Planning Directors

News October 22, 2009
Join us on Wednesday, November 4 at City Hall for this special event, featuring planning directors from six cities, co-sponsored by SPUR and the San Francisco Planning Department. The evening's lineup includes: BILL ANDERSON from San Diego SUSAN ANDERSON from Portland AMANDA BURDEN from New York City JOHN RAHAIM from San Francisco DIANE SUGIMURA from Seattle BRENT TODERIAN from Vancouver This event starts at 6 pm, and is free and open to the public. See you in two weeks!

Planning Historians Unite! (This Weekend!)

News October 16, 2009
It's not too late to catch some sessions at the National Conference in Planning History taking place at the Oakland Marriott this weekend. Organized by the Society for American City and Regional Planning History, many of the panels and tours are focused on the Bay Area, as well as their Sunday tours, which include "Historical Development and Ethnic Change in Oakland," "Urban Renewal in San Francisco" and "North of the Golden Gate: Growth Control, Open Space, and Alternative Agriculture on the Urban Fringe." The Marriott is an easy two blocks from the Oakland City Center BART station.

Our Great Boulevard

News September 30, 2009
Today was the second day of the six-week Better Market Street Project trial number one, which diverts cars headed north off of Market Street at 8th and 6th avenues, in an attempt to reduce traffic on the oft-clogged street. What a transformation! The morning bicycle commute has become a breeze and we hope will encourage more workers to choose their two-wheeled vehicle. The Better Merket Street Project hopes his traffic reduction trial will be the beginning of the metamorphosis of Market Street into one of the great city boulevards of the world. More trials to come will include new mini-plazas with tables and chairs. See our own SPUR Deputy Director Sarah Karlinksy share her thoughts on the matter here .

NY Times Columnist Allison Arieff Blogs about P2P (and Land-Lending in a Soft Economy)

News September 23, 2009
New York Times columnist Allison Arieff penned a piece yesterday on the temporary parks and open spaces sprouting up in San Francisco and New York City--and the opportunity for land owners (in this soft economy) to lend their empty lots to grassroots greeners . This image, from Arieff's column , shows the site of one of San Francisco's newest temporary plaza at the intersection of San Jose Avenue and Guerrero Streets: The San Jose/Guerrero parks use simple materials--many of them recycled--to create instant atmosphere. Arieff's column also featured many great images from PARK(ing) Day last week, as well as a link to a Streetsfilms segment featuring PARKS by SPUR and other members of the San Francisco Great Streets Coalition.

Music, Dancing, Urbanists at 2009 PARK(ing) Day

News September 23, 2009
Last Friday, we teamed up with the San Francisco Great Streets Project and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to participate in 2009 PARK(ing) Day , an event-cum-social movement started by Rebar in 2005. Before the big day, architect and SFBC volunteer Riyad Ghannam spent countless hours in the Urban Center's basement designing and building wooden platforms to create a seamless transition between the sidewalk and PARK: We're hoping the installation can be a model for restaurants and other small businesses to create temporary outdoor eating and sitting spaces as an extension of their storefronts. The model was a hit among North Beach restaurant owners, for whom PARK(ing) Day turned into a PARK(ing) Weekend! (See Streetsfilm's clip below for the whole story.) Finally, what would PARK(ing) Day be without a little bellydancing by Calamity Sam, who literally stopped Mission Street traffic. Thank you to plant-provider Flora Grubb, furniture-maker Miles Epstein, belly-dancer...

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