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.

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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

Transit in the Valley

Urbanist Article August 1, 2010
The South Bay has particular challenges when it comes to transit—a robust network of light-rail and buses, but some of the lowest ridership numbers in the country. Can better land-use policy help?

HSR Report: France

News July 28, 2010
As California lays the high-speed rail groundwork, SPUR continues its series on international precedents . While France built high-speed rail two decades after Japan and within a different state apparatus, the system had remarkably similar results: growth and concentration. France teaches us that a state investment in high-speed rail (HSR) can have major impacts on places that are isolated and suffering from lagging economic performance. The examples of Lille, an old industrial and mining center in northern France, and Nantes, south of Paris, are often cited as success stories. Euralille [Photo Credit: flickr user savourama ] Lille is an important crossroads in the European HSR network with service to London, Paris and Brussels. Once a quickly depopulating and gritty industrial city, Lille has diversified into knowledge-intensive, service-producing activities. Euralille, the new retail, business and conference center designed by Dutch powerhouse architect, Rem Koolhaas and OMA, is illustrative of the makeover...

New Bay Area Air Quality Guidelines Among Most Stringent in the Nation

News July 15, 2010
[Photo Credit: flickr user Sam Williams ] Earlier this month, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) unanimously adopted new air quality guidelines related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and particulate matter (PM 2.5) from land use projects. The comprehensive new guidelines, among the most stringent in the nation, address the impacts of air pollutants, as well as recent changes in state and federal air quality. The guidelines also include air quality significance thresholds and mitigation measures local agencies can use when preparing air quality impact analyses under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Some significant changes to the guidelines include: Single family housing projects of 56 dwelling units or greater, hotels with more than 83 hotel rooms and general office buildings with more than 53,000 square feet will all be considered to have a significant impact on GHG emissions under CEQA. Local governments are encouraged to adopt qualified...

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?

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