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.

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  • 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

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...

Arcade Fire's new album tackles suburban sprawl, providing compelling city planning commentary

News August 18, 2010
Sprawl, conformity, car culture, ennui, decay. These are a few of the themes Arcade Fire tackles in its third album, The Suburbs , released last week. At times nostalgic and at times cautionary, The Suburbs may be most notable (certainly in the realm of SPUR's blog) as an example of city planning commentary in pop culture. As an NPR review put it, "the members of Arcade Fire have always been fascinated by the subtle ways geography informs our lives." Their newest album weaves a sense of suburban space and place throughout its 16 tracks. Band front man Win Butler sings of how "First they built the road, then they built the town. / That's why we're still driving round and round." Much of the inspiration for the album comes from Butler's youth spent in the suburbs of Houston in the 1980s. And as with Arcade Fire's other notable excursions into...

Getting High Speed Rail Right-Enough

News August 6, 2010
The California High Speed Rail Authority met yesterday in San Francisco. The agenda was packed with many interesting things including a new station area development policy . But the real controversy was about the section between San Jose and San Francisco . I joined hundreds of people during public comment to weigh in on this one small segment. Over the past few years, a group of high speed rail opponents has been gathering strength in some of the Peninsula communities such as Atherton and Menlo Park, arguing that the train will impact their views, be too noisy, and otherwise ruin their quality of life. There is certainly a lot of design work to do as the High Speed Rail Authority and Caltrain explore the peninsula segment and figure out how to make "joint operations" work. But what some of the residents of the Peninsula seem to be asking for is...

San Jose and San Francisco at a Glance

Urbanist Article August 1, 2010
Each spring, SPUR takes an annual city trip to learn about urbanist strategies that are working — or not working — in other cities around the world. This year we turned our lense to our own region and hopped on a Caltrain baby bullet to San Jose. With a population of about one million, San Jose is now the largest city in Northern California. In a generation it could have twice the population of San Francisco. Here's a look at the differences and similiarities today between the populations of San Jose and San Franicsco. Click any image to enlarge. Sources: All data from 2006-2008 American Community Survey, Census Quick Facts , except the following: Population: San Jose Planning Data , ABAG Building Momentum; Share of Region: Bay Area Census , Bay Area Census: San Francisco County , San Jose PLanning Data , ABAG Building Momentum; Work Location: 2010 San Jose Economic Develpment Strategy.

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