Good Government

Our goal: Support local government.

Publications

Policy Letter Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SPUR supports the Planning Commission's monumental effort to simplify Article 2, in a great step toward making it easier for citizens and practitioners to engage with the planning and development process.

Blog Monday, November 10, 2014

Regardless of what happened at the national level, our local elections were full of good news for urbanism. Ballot measures that passed in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland marked major victories for transit, open space and higher minimum wages across the region.

Blog Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's election season and time for SPUR's in-depth analysis of local San Francisco ballot measures. Don't want to wade through our 30-page voter guide? Check out this quick summary of all our recommendations. For those who do want to nerd out, don't worry — we've included links to our complete analysis.

Voter Guide Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SPUR provides in-depth analysis of the 12 local propositions on San Francisco's November 2014 ballot. For each measure we ask: Is it necessary and appropriate to be on the ballot? Is it practical, and if enacted will it achieve the result it proposes? And most important: Is it a worthy goal, one that will make San Francisco a better place to work and live?

Voter Guide Thursday, May 1, 2014

SPUR provides in-depth analysis of the two City of San Francisco measures on the June 2014 ballot: Prop. A, a $400 million bond to rehabilitate or replace seismically vulnerable fire and public safety facilties; and Prop. B, an ordinance that would require voter approval for increases to existing height limits on Port of San Francisco property.

Pages


Our priorities for Good Government

BUILDING AN INFORMED, ENGAGED CITIZENRY

SPUR serves as a watchdog for the public interest. We analyze each ballot and provide recommendations on how to vote. We try to help the City make wise decisions in budgeting. We monitor capital spending, civil service reform and changes to contracting rules. And we do all of this with a goal of improving outcomes and raising public awareness.

PROMOTING GOVERNMENT AS A FORCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

SPUR believes in our local government as a positive force for social change. But it is not enough to simply want an active public sector. The practical challenges of operating a large, complex public organization are enormous. SPUR works to ensure that government has the appropriate policies and tools to make the most of our investment in government and provide the highest quantity and quality of public services to San Francisco residents with the resources at its disposal.

CREATING AN EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SECTOR

SPUR's approach is to be constructive about changes that need to be made, from the perspective of an ally of government, rather than an adversary. SPUR believes that government can be effective and efficient at what it does to continue to carry out indispensable functions for the quality of life of the city. From parks, to public transit, to street cleaning, to public safety—and the list goes on—there is simply no way for San Francisco to be a good place to live unless local government is well-funded and well-managed.


Good Government projects

BALLOT ANALYSIS

Before every local election, SPUR's Ballot Analysis Committee and Board of Directors investigate all local and some state ballot measures, and prepare an analysis for the public. Our analysis includes the background behind the measures, pros and cons, and a recommendation on how to vote. This is widely regarded as the single best source in San Francisco for citizens to get an understanding of the issues they will face in the voting booth. Because we typically complete our analysis in advance of other election observers, we share our ballot analysis with community organizations and local media to help them make their own recommendations on the ballot.

THE MUNICIPAL FISCAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

The Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee—now a part of SPUR—serves as the coordinating body for many efforts to help government work better. Through public/private collaboration, MFAC helps strengthen the City's ability to manage its operations, maintain essential services and manage revenues. We usually work closely in partnership with City departments as we bring outside expertise to help solve City problems. Occasionally, we will identify a volunteer to help a City agency or department resolve a specific problem. Our committee may also produce independent policy analyses and go directly to legislators or the ballot box to achieve policy reform.

ANNUAL ECONOMIC OUTLOOK BRIEFING

Each year, SPUR's MFAC organizes an economic briefing to the Controller's Office and the mayor's budget director. The focus of the briefing is to bring experts from key industry sectors - real estate, retail, hotels and banking—to discuss economic trends that will affect the City and County of San Francisco budget. This information helps validate the assumptions made by the controller's staff as they form revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. The outside guidance also strengthens the acceptance of the budget projections by the Board of Supervisors.

GOOD GOVERNMENT AWARDS PROGRAM

SPUR holds an annual awards event to honor exemplary city managers who are models of good public service. This is the only citywide awards program for exemplary management in the city's public sector. Managers are nominated by their department heads and are reviewed by a panel that includes City staff and members of MFAC. Over nearly three decades, this event has honored hundreds of nominees and winners, of whom many have gone on to become department heads.

BALLOT REFORM TASK FORCE AND COALITION

In reaction to the plethora of poorly conceived ballot measures on the San Francisco ballot, SPUR has founded a task force to study and recommend ways to assure that each go through the proper process of public review before being placed on the ballot. Future projects will include additional measures to help increase meaningful public participation and voting. SPUR is also leading a coalition of organizations looking at ways to improve and reform process by which ordinances appear on the local ballot. These reforms require changes to the City charter.