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.

    Read More
  • 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.

    Read More
  • 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.

    Read More
  • 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

    Read More

Updates and Events

Bay Area Regional Form and Population Growth

Urbanist Article February 1, 2010
When viewed from space , the Bay Area looks like it got some of the big planning moves right. The Bay itself is ringed by development, clinging tightly to the shore in San Francisco and the East Bay. Urbanization spreads out from there. But the overwhelming impression is that the region is ringed by green. We got this first, big planning move right—and it didn't happen by accident. Far-sighted activists and planners worked over many decades to preserve open space through a combination of strategies: buying land and putting it into county parks districts and land trusts; zoning to preserve agricultural land; and establishing urban growth boundaries around cities. The emergence of what we now call the slow food movement is inextricably tied to the preservation of agricultural lands near to the urbanized parts of the Bay Area. And nothing contributes more to our quality of life than enjoying access...

Learning from Washington D.C.

News January 5, 2010
This past fall, a group of SPUR board members and staff traveled to Washington DC to learn from the urban-planning successes of our nation's capital; today, three members of that group presented their findings at a lunchtime forum. SPUR Deputy Director Sarah Karlinsky began the discussion with an overview of the Washington urban planning models from Pierre L'Enfant's plan of 1791 to and James McMillan's Plan of 1901 through modern-day endeavors to enliven the long-neglected Southeast waterfront area along the Anacostia. Regional Planning Director Egon Terplan expanded the geographical scope of the discussion, demonstrating with satellite photography areas in the region where forward-thinking transit-planning decisions brought about transit-oriented development along major corridors and high public transit use. Terplan focused on the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Virginia and Bethesda in Maryland , both tremendous successes in inducing dense development clustered around regional rail service. Finally, architect and urban historian Rod Freebairn-Smith showed...

Thriving TOD

Urbanist Article January 1, 2010
While urban planners across the U.S. talk about creating transit-oriented development, the D.C. region has built TODs in a way that's actually changing commuter behavior. What lessons can San Francisco learn from this success story?

Windfall for All

News November 20, 2009
Study after study has shown that cities prioritize development that lets visitors and residents walk, bicycle, or take public transit to get around, people are healthier and have far less negative impact on the environment . Now, a new study by TransForm entitled Windfall for All demonstrates another benefit to developing livable communities: people who do not use cars to get around spend far less money on transportation than people who do. Citing AAA estimates, the report shows that, on average, it costs $8,097 per year to own, maintain, register, insure, and fuel a vehicle. In all, individuals in the Bay Area spend $34 billion on private transportation, most of which on owning and operating cars. Especially in current tough economic conditions , finding ways to cut costs is critical, and that includes money spent on transportation. Yet many Bay Area towns and cities have prioritized development that not only...

Emerald Cities: How are Cities Advancing the Shift to a Green Economy?

News November 10, 2009
[Image: Green roof in Toronto from urbanneighbourhood ] How can cities best position themselves in the green economy? What is the role of manufacturing in urban areas? How can a city best choose an economic development strategy given its size and unique economic history? How should federal policy support policy innovation among cities? Join us for an evening discussion with nationally-recognized visiting writer and professor Joan Fitzgerald . She will give us a preview of her new book , Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development , to be published by Oxford University Press in early 2010. In the book, Joan Fitzgerald shows how in the absence of a comprehensive national policy, cities have taken the lead in addressing the interrelated environmental problems of global warming, pollution, energy dependence, and social justice. Her analysis includes a comparison of 24 cities throughout the United States - major cities like New York,...

XERO Dallas

News October 30, 2009
On October 29, architects David Baker and Amit Price Patel of David Baker + Partners Architects and David Fletcher from Fletcher Studio presented Xero Energy, their winning entry in the Re:Vision Dallas competition. Sponsored by Urban Re:Vision of San Francisco , the competition asked designers to propose a fully sustainable city block. The proposal envisions an array of energy-conservation and -generation methods used in concert to reduce the overall energy "footprint" of the building, from photovoltaic panels and geothermal energy generation to on-site community agriculture that would reduce the distance -- and concomitant fossil fuel use -- of residents' food. In reaching for sustainability, the Xero Energy proposal reached far beyond the 2.4-acre site they were assigned to work on as well, presenting a vision of an expansive greenway and connections to Union Station, a handsome Beaux-Arts rail station nearby . The full Xero Energy proposal can be seen here...

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