Getting to Great Places

How better urban design will strengthen San Jose's future
SPUR Report
December 12, 2013

Silicon Valley, the most dynamic and innovative economic engine in the world, is not creating great urban places. Having grown around the automobile, the valley consists largely of lowslung office parks, surface parking and suburban tract homes.

But the City of San Jose's ambitious new General Plan imagines a dramatic shift to mixed, walkable “complete neighborhoods” that provide basic services and amenities close to homes, workplaces and transit. Achieving this transformation will be a daunting challenge. To be successful, it will require changes in culture, public policy, professional and technical practices, infrastructure, markets and norms.

SPUR’s report Getting to Great Places diagnoses the impediments San Jose faces in creating excellent, walkable urban places and recommends changes in policy and practice that will help meet these goals.

About the Authors: 

Report release date: December 12, 2013

Thanks to the generous support of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The SPUR San Jose Advisory Board reviewed, debated and adopted this report as SPUR policy on August 15, 2013.

Lead Author
Benjamin Grant

SPUR San Jose Director
Leah Toeniskoetter

SPUR San Jose Urban Design Task Force
Co-chairs

Rob Steinberg, FAIA, President, Steinberg Architects
Kim Walesh, Director of Economic Development, Chief Strategist, City of San Jose
Members
David Baker, Principal/Architect, David Baker + Partners
Michele Beasley, Senior Field Representative, Greenbelt Alliance
Seth Bland, Partner, Wilson Meany
Larry Burnett, Board Member, SPUR
Steve Cox, Principal, HPC Architecture
Andrew Crabtree, Senior Planner, City of San Jose
Jeff Current, Vice President/Director of Architecture, Barry Swenson Builder
Jerome King, Founder/Principal, The Office of Jerome King
Lewis Knight, Senior Urban Designer, Gensler
Hanns Lee, Senior Vice President, Lowe Enterprises
Ralph McLaughlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, San Jose State University
Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor, City of Fremont
Erik Schoennauer, The Schoennauer Co.
Kelly Snider, Director of Development, Urban Housing Group
Tim Steele, Senior Director, Real Estate Planning, The Sobrato Organization
Joshua Switzky, Urban Designer, San Francisco Planning Department
Michael Yarne, Partner, Build Inc.

SPUR Interns
Meghan Hade and Daphne Dethier

Illustrative graphics by Gensler. Special thanks to Lewis Knight, Jim Zhao
and Xiao Wu.