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

Bringing Geary Back

News July 27, 2010
Geary Boulevard runs almost the entire width of San Francisco, from Market to the ocean. The name of the street hides a lot of history — John White Geary was the first mayor of San Francisco post-statehood, and he would go on to govern Kansas during its "Bloody Kansas" period in the buildup to the Civil War. But that's a matter for another post though — this post is about forgotten transportation. Today, the traffic on Geary reflects San Francisco's dual nature. On the one hand, this is a town that depends heavily on transit, and the 38-Geary is one of the busiest bus lines in the country (the busiest in the western half of the country by some estimates). On the other, the street's design, especially through the Western Addition, clearly prioritizes heavy private auto traffic, as evidenced by the two underpasses (below Fillmore and Masonica). Below is an...

Communities for Aging: Today's Challenges Helped by Choice

News July 19, 2010
[Image: The New York Times ] Where will I live? How will I get around if I can no longer walk or drive? Will I be able to afford health care? Can I hope for something more than whittling away my golden years in a nursing home? Whether you face these questions around growing old for yourself, or indirectly through the concerns of your parents, grandparents or other senior relatives and friends, the issues around aging are tough. And let's face it: no one likes to think about getting old. The issues are not made any easier by the traditional paradigm of aging and senior housing and care in the U.S.—a narrow field of options defined on one end by living in your home and having frequent or live-in care and on the other, being confined to a different sort of "home" more reminiscent of a hospital than a supportive...

Parks and Parklets Tour: A Three-Part Ddyssey

News July 16, 2010
Last week's Parks and Parklets tour led a group of enthusiastic urbanists to three of the city's parklets — miniature parks built on roadway and parking spaces reclaimed for the pedestrian realm. Divisadero : We kicked off our tour at the Divisadero Street parklet in front of Mojo Bicycle Café . Café patrons sipped coffee and admired their gleaming two-wheelers as Great Streets Project's Liza Pratt filled us in on the parklet's history: installed in March of this year, this newborn parklet has been a boon to business, inspiring Mojo to apply for a license to serve liquor outdoors. En route to the Castro Parklet, SPUR members and staff traded stories, shared laughs and tried not to notice the obscenities scrawled on the battered wood veneer of the 24 bus, (among the most offensive: "I ♥ STEELY DAN"). Castro : Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture joined us in the...

What is DIY Urbanism?

News July 14, 2010
Determined to see changes occur in their neighborhoods despite tight city budgets, many DIY Urbanists are taking matters into their own hands. They are rolling up their sleeves to make improvements to their built environment by planning, designing, and implementing projects. Because DIY Urbanism projects are conceived by individuals and implemented on tight budgets, innovation and creativity are key ingredients in any DIY project. As a result, DIY Urbanism projects are as diverse as the people who implement them. Projects can run the gambit from short to long-term endeavors, and can include anything from greening and beautification of public spaces to temporary improvements to stalled construction projects. Aside from jumpstarting an otherwise stalled project, DIY Urbanism offers several other benefits, not least of which is empowering individuals to make a positive difference in their communities. In direct contrast to typical "top-down" approaches to planning, DIY Urbanism's "bottom-up" approach requires that...

What's in a Name? Mission Bay's "Block 27 Parking Structure" Highlights Neighborhood's Potential

News July 7, 2010
Maybe "Block 27 Parking Structure" isn't the most promising of names, but there's not much one can do to jazz up this widely reviled building type, so why try to come up with something catchy -- right? At least that's what I thought before encountering WRNS Studio's garage on SPUR's Mission Bay walking tour last week. The Mission Bay Redevelopment District , home to luxury condos, swanky biotech headquarters, and a burgeoning UCSF campus, contains one of the most inspired parking structures around. Winner of a 2010 AIA San Francisco Design Award, the building incorporates "a deeply canted plaster wall" and perforated aluminum panels to great effect, standing out sharply from the surrounding office park. Although I'm not sure anyone on the tour picked up on the "pixelated imagery of California's redwood forests," it's curious to think that a parking garage, of all things, could invoke the region's ecological heritage...

Urban Field Notes: Lessons from Eight SF Alleys

News June 24, 2010
Alleys serve many purposes and people, often all in the same space. They provide back access so that service vehicles and garages don't conflict with transit and pedestrians, and so that main frontages can be preserved for shops and lobbies. They provide affordable and quirky commercial spaces for small businesses. They reduce the scale of large blocks, bringing light and air into dense areas, and creating a humane physical and mental framework for walking — with shortcuts, variety, and interest. They provide intimate, slow-paced environments protected from the noise and traffic of arterials, where people can spill out into the streets. The most interesting alleys are those that mix back-of-house with front-of-house with the house itself. But above all, they're the nooks and crannies of the city. For me, the sheer promise of hidden-ness, mystery and a sense of the unknown glimpsed down every narrow side street is what makes...

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