Our goal: Make it affordable to live here.


Blog Thursday, November 5, 2015

The November 2 election was an encouraging sign that San Franciscans are aligned behind one of the key solutions to our affordability crisis: build more housing.

Blog Monday, October 26, 2015

Have you ever walked down a San Francisco street  and wondered, "Why aren’t these buildings taller?" If we’re in a housing shortage, why don’t we have six-, ten- and twelve-story residential buildings throughout the city? San Francisco is trying to change this with the Affordable Housing Bonus Program, a proposal to allow an increase in height and allowable density in exchange for building affordable housing.

Article Monday, October 19, 2015

Sonja Trauss started San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation in 2014 to bring together the supporters of dense, tall, fast building, who she was convinced existed but were not connected to each other. The group's mission is to demonstrate that political support for new building does exist by showing up at neighborhood meetings and public hearings to speak in support of new residential development. 

Blog Friday, September 18, 2015

In September, San Francisco Chief Economist Ted Egan released a report analyzing the impacts of a moratorium on new housing construction in the Mission District. While the rapid changes happening in the Mission neighborhood are real and of grave concern, the report showed that a moratorium on new housing would have many costs and few benefits. 

Policy Letter Friday, July 17, 2015

SPUR supports the proposed ordinances allowing construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) in Board of Supervisors Districts 3 and 8.


Our Priorities for Housing


In order to address the Bay Area's housing crisis, SPUR works to increase the supply of housing for buyers and renters at all income levels. This means zoning for more multifamily housing, improving the entitlements process, and increasing federal, state and local resources for affordable housing development.


Through neighborhood planning efforts, SPUR supports increasing the supply of housing in places where it makes the most sense: within walking distance of local and regional transit nodes. In areas where cities have already invested major transit resources — near BART, Caltrain, Muni Metro, etc. — housing densities should be substantially increased.


The process of getting planning entitlements to build housing is particularly difficult in San Francisco. People who oppose housing have been given a long list of tools to delay, postpone, shrink or prevent development. People who need housing do not have an equivalent set of tools to get it built. SPUR believes that improving the entitlements process will help generate more needed housing — without compromising the public process.


Parking spaces are expensive to build, especially where land values are high. If we can find a way to build less parking — while also strengthening our tranist infrastructure — the city will see both an improved housing process and a more efficient use of urban land.


One of the most painless ways to provide affordable housing is to promote the creation of secondary or "in-law" units. These housing units — carved from a basement or garage, or placed at the back of a lot — are a uniquely affordable housing resource because they do not cost public money but are paid for by home owners, and because they do not change the physical character of a neighborhood. SPUR promotes making it legal for property owners to add this type of housing, provided it can meet building code standards for health and safety, and that it is located in an appropriate neighborhood.

Ongoing projects


Alongside all the formal programs to create affordable housing, SPUR supports making it possible to create units that cost less because they are small and efficiently designed and, in many cases, do not come with a parking space. These affordable-by-design units should become an important part of cities' middle-income housing strategies.


In existing neighborhoods, the only viable way to plan for serious physical change is through comprehensive neighborhood planning. Instead of just trying to maximize housing, neighborhood needs should be looked at comprehensively. Ideally, neighborhood plans will build consensus in advance about where housing should go and what it should look like. Instead of having site-by-site battles over every housing proposal, we can work out a vision of positive change, and then invite developers to come and fulfill their part of the vision. SPUR was instrumental in getting San Francisco to undertake the Better Neighborhoods program and continues to support good planning in all city planning efforts.

Housing Updates

To get regular updates on housing activities contact Deputy Director Sarah Karlinsky at skarlinsky@spur.org or Community Planning Director Kristy Wang at kwang@spur.org.