Good Government

Our goal: Support local government.

SPUR's good government agenda:

• Put safety first.
• Invest in infrastructure.
• Support a strong civil service system.
• Get better at contracting.
• Experiment with labor-management partnerships and demonstration projects.
• Deliver services at the neighborhood scale.
• Make public data easier to access.

Read more from SPUR’s Agenda for Change
  • The SPUR Voter Guide

    The SPUR Voter Guide is the best resource for San Franciscans who want to understand the issues they will face in the voting booth. We focus on outcomes, not ideology, providing objective analysis on which measures will deliver real solutions.

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  • Good Government Awards

    The Good Government Awards honor outstanding managers working for the City and County of San Francisco, recognizing them for their leadership, vision and ability to make a difference in city government and in the community.

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  • SPUR Report

    A Big Fix for Capital Planning

    San Francisco’s aging public facilities harm the economy, limit they city’s ability to function and endanger public safety. SPUR proposes policy reforms for a more effective capital planning and maintenance process.

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  • SPUR Report

    Reforming Civil Service

    San Francisco’s employees and managers work within a system that often fails to take full advantage of their abilities or reward their contributions. The city can strengthen delivery of public services by restructuring practices for hiring, promotion, motivation and training.

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  • SPUR Report

    Fixing San Francisco’s Contracting Process

    San Francisco's ontracting process is often time-consuming, inefficient and unpredictable. How can the city minimize waste and inefficiency while maintaining strong safeguards against favoritism and corruption?

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  • SPUR Report

    Setting Aside Differences

    Ballot measures that dedicate city revenues to specific purposes have become increasingly common in San Francisco. But these “set asides” can damage the democratic system and lock in choices long after they continue to make sense. Here's how to improve these measures by evaluating them before they become law.

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  • The Urbanist

    Taxing Waste, Not Work

    Environmental tax reform decreases taxes on labor or income while increasing taxes on waste and pollution. For San Francisco, a shift away from the payroll tax toward taxes on energy, solid waste or transportation could increase economic activity while reducing environmental harm.

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  • Find more of SPUR's good government research

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Updates and Events

A Sea Change in California Politics?

Urbanist Article January 9, 2013
The year 2012 saw a record 18.2 million voters registered in California, the debut of online voter registration, new district lines thanks to the Citizens Redistricting Commission and top-two primaries where the two candidates with the most votes in any election for state office ran against each other in the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

SPUR Ballot Endorsements Sweep Election 2012

News November 19, 2012
While the majority of voters were lost in a sea of presidential fervor, San Francisco was busy having a historic local election. On the ballot were a number of important issues — from education to parks, housing to taxation. Here’s how the verdicts came down on four important measures.

Why Does Civic Data Matter?

Urbanist Article October 10, 2012
A new emphasis is being placed on the availability of open data from governments, but what use does this data have for citizens’ daily experience? Open data has the potential to spur economic development, engage citizens, reduce government costs and improve its services. But we’re not there yet.

November 2012 Voter Guide

Voter Guide October 1, 2012
It doesn't happen every election, but this November some of SPUR's top priorities appear on the ballot. See how we weighed in on: the Gross Receipts Tax, the Housing Trust Fund, the Parks Bond and four more city measures.

The Time Is Now for Business Tax Reform

News September 28, 2012
San Francisco’s technology sector is booming once again, the real estate market appears to be in full recovery mode and office vacancies are at record lows. The city’s economy is quick to catch fire, but it’s also prone to downturns. This has benefited the city’s coffers and the public services they support, but it forces difficult decisions when fortunes turn for the worse. These boom and bust cycles have exposed the importance of consistent sources of revenue for the city. Repeated economic fluctuations — as well as the recent recession — have shown the inherent volatility of the city’s business tax. A flat 1.5 percent tax on all payroll expenses above $250,000, the business tax is the city’s second largest source of revenue for the general fund (it brings in approximately $410 million per year), behind only the city’s property tax. But the payroll tax has fluctuated dramatically from year...

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