Regional Planning

Our goal: Concentrate growth inside existing cities.

SPUR's regional planning agenda:


• Focus housing growth in existing communities.
• Add new jobs in transit-accessible employment centers.
• Retrofit suburban office parks to increase density.
• Strengthen our regional agencies.
• Explore tax sharing.


Read more from SPUR’s Agenda for Change
  • White Paper

    Improving Regional Planning in the Bay Area

    Many attempts have been made to foster better collaboration between the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. A proposal to establish a merged planning department has again opened up the discussion about the future of regional planning in the Bay Area. SPUR recommends studying a full merger of the two agencies.

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  • Report

    Strengthening the Bay Area's Regional Governance

    The Bay Area economy has rebounded from the recession, but major regional challenges threaten our continued prosperity. SPUR makes the case that some of the biggest threats to the Bay Area’s long-term economic competitiveness are best addressed through better regional governance.

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  • Advocacy Letter

    SPUR’s Comments on Plan Bay Area

    Plan Bay Area is an important step forward in comprehensive regional planning in the Bay Area. Our comments on the plan address the gap between our vision of a more concentrated region and the tools available to achieve it.

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  • Ongoing Initiative

    The Future of Work

    In the last three decades, employment has spread from city centers to car-centric, low-density office parks. How can we move more jobs to places served by transit? SPUR looks at how to make this shift while strengthening innovation, job growth and the prosperity of the Bay Area.

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  • The Urbanist

    The Northern California Megaregion

    Northern California, home to 14 million people, is expected to add at least 10 million people by 2050. How we plan for and accommodate that growth is the defining question for urban planning in Northern California today.

    Read More
  • SPUR Report

    Beyond the Tracks

    California cities anticipating the rewards of new high-speed rail stations may fail to reap the full economic and environmental benefits without key land-use planning. SPUR identifies strategies that will contribute to the success of high-speed rail and help realize the full potential of this multi-billion-dollar system.

    Read More
  • Find more of SPUR's regional planning research

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Updates and Events

Datablog: What it Takes to Get There

News September 20, 2010
Click to enlarge Commute times to zip code 94105 (SOMA) in San Francisco To the dismay of many a futurist envisioning the world in 2010, the vast majority of people commute significant distances to their jobs. Although the recent recession has led to reduced vehicle miles traveled , the average American still commutes 46 minutes a day. And while we don't always have a choice about where we work and live, commuting reflects both the successes and limitations of our transportation network and our housing supply. This interactive map , created by Harry Kao, uses the familiar google maps layout to shed light on commuting times across the nation. How to use it: This commuting map is simple. Before starting you are prompted to enter the zip code of where you commute. With that basic information, a screen displays multiple red dots, each dot represents another zip code, with the...

San Jose Then and Now

News September 14, 2010
Many who joined the latest SPUR study trip to San Jose were impressed to see how much the city has changed physically in the past few decades. These changes have helped accommodate considerable population growth - San Jose grew from under 100,000 residents in 1950 to 460,000 in 1970 to nearly 800,000 today. According to the Association of Bay Area Governments, San Jose will add approximately 400,000 more people from now until 2035, which will no doubt result in even more dramatic physical changes in the city. Many of these changes also reflect the city's attempts to transform itself from a suburban auto-oriented place to a vibrant, dense, transit rich city. Santa Clara Street at Fourth looking East, 1975 and 2006. [All photos via Buena Vista Neighborhood Association] Market Street at San Fernando looking southeast, 1975 and 2006. The Circle of Palms and the Fairmont Hotel are in the background...

Exploring future job centers of the Bay Area: Mission Bay as urban tech park

News September 13, 2010
Across the Bay Area, only one in 10 commuters takes transit to work each day. And half of those transit commuters go to one job center: downtown San Francisco . But since most work is outside of downtowns, SPUR is trying to understand a little more about emerging suburban and non-downtown job centers . This post is the first in an occasional series that will look at the Bay Area's evolving and emerging business districts. For each employment district, we will ask four main questions: The Location: Where is this place located? How far or near to major transit? And how large from one end to the other? The Plan: What was the planning vision for this place? Was it master-planned? Did it grow up organically? The Market: What kinds of jobs and companies are located there? The Commute: How are workers getting to their jobs each day and why?...

Californians to Drive Less to Meet Emissions Targets

News September 9, 2010
[Photo Credit: flickr user sandy kemsley ] This post is the first in an occasional series that hopes to make sense of the issues surrounding the implementation of California's smart growth law, SB 375 . California's future demographic reality is clear. We will grow — perhaps not as quickly as in recent decades — but we will nonetheless continue to increase our population. The state projects a population of 44 million by 2020 and well over 51 million by 2035. Even if the recent economic downturn results in slower future population growth, the question still remains: how do we manage this growth with minimal environmental impact? For much of the past century, this growth was accompanied by increased auto use. But California's 2008 smart growth law, SB 375 — now being implemented throughout the state — proposes a different approach. A key recent policy decision relates to "Greenhouse gas reduction...

Why Are Our Roads Seeing Red?

News August 31, 2010
[Image courtesy of Streetsblog ] San Francisco has a problem with its roads. Since 1988, the average pavement condition of roads in San Francisco has declined 20%. No longer considered an essential city service to be paid for out of the City's General Fund, city officials are looking for new ways to pay for street repavement projects. They are also prioritizing street repairs based on how fundamental each road is to the overall system. With the current average PCI (pavement condition index) of San Francisco roads registering at 63 out of 100, we are in a troubling situation. Our roads are no longer considered "Good" (roads with scores of 70 and above). Instead they are dangerously close to "At risk" (roads at 57 and below). According to a report prepared by San Francisco's capital planning program, "San Francisco's street network as a whole is slightly below the threshold for preventive...

New Housing Affordability Index Now Includes Cost of Transportation

News August 25, 2010
While living in the suburbs often appears less expensive than living in the city, this is often not the case when factoring in transportation costs. The Center for Neighborhood Technology just released an expanded version of their housing and transportation index which provides a comprehensive view of neighborhood affordability. Unlike other affordability indices, the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index takes into account transportation costs associated with neighborhood design and location. Their website allows users to explore neighborhood-level data about housing and transportation prices which include information on auto ownership, transit use, and housing density that can help Americans make more informed decisions about where they want to live. [Map generated on H + T website comparing affordability in the Bay Area] The H + T Affordability Index is a product of a collaboration with the Center for Neighborhood Technology , Center for Transit Oriented Development and was developed as a...

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