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

Planning for the San Francisco Bay, Wayne Gretzky Style

News November 12, 2009
How fast do you have to be to outrun rising tides? According to Will Travis, of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission this is a challenge that the Bay Area faces. Travis informed and entertained a large crowd at a forum at the Urban Center this past Tuesday, covering a wide range of issues including environmental justice, adaption strategies, importance of tidal wetlands, and his thoughts for the future of the bay. Climate change poses a severe threat to the San Francisco Bay . Ocean water temperatures will continue to increase, sea levels will inevitably rise, and storms will become more violent. Decreases in the Sierra snowpack will mean less fresh water in the spring and summer months, allowing salt water to travel further up the delta than ever before. While his prognosis was certainly bleak, Travis offered a wide range of strategies aimed at combating these changes. Some of...

Making Good Government Better

Urbanist Article October 1, 2009
SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf sat down with Greg Wagner, the City's new budget director — and SPUR's former good government policy director — to discuss the looming budget crisis, the City's Capital Plan and the role of creative thinking in budget reform.

November 2009 Voter Guide

Voter Guide September 21, 2009
Includes SPUR's analysis of 5 city propositions on the Nov. 3, 2009 ballot.

May 2009 Voter Guide

Voter Guide May 1, 2009
Includes SPUR's analysis of 6 state propositions on the May 19, 2009 ballot.

Take the California Budget Challenge

News April 4, 2009
The newly-released California Budget Challenge lets you choose your priorities for the state while attempting to balance the budget. Users decide on policy options including whether or not to raise income taxes, restructure Proposition 13, or change parole supervision for non-violent offenders. You can send your choices on to your representatives, view pro and con arguments for each choice, and see the choices other Challenge-takers are making. California will have a special election on May 19 with several measures related to the budget.

How Does the SF Budget Compare with Other Cities?

News March 17, 2009
A new report from the Controller provides comparative information on how much the City and County of SF spends per capita on key services relative to other communities. While making clear that it is not advocating cuts to particular services, it provides an objective set of data points to make appropriate policy decisions. The report also provides information on how certain revenue sources have changed over time. For anyone interested in local budgeting, this is a must read .

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