Sustainable Development

Our goal: Reduce our ecological footprint and prepare for climate change.


Policy Letter Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SPUR supports the resolution to implement San Jose's Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone (UAIZ). However, we are concerned about the impact of the clause that forbids UAIZ contracts on parcels that the City has included in its Housing Element Inventory. 

Blog Monday, October 26, 2015

San Francisco just upped the ante on what building owners and developers can do to reduce our water deficit (and likely, their own water bills). Changes to the city’s nonpotable water program, approved this month, will provide grant funding for existing buildings to install onsite water treatment and reuse systems — and for buildings to connect to each other and recycle water as a district.

Blog Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Ocean Beach Master Plan could face a major test this winter if predictions of El-Nino-driven storms come to pass. In previous storm seasons, San Francisco used large piles of boulders to armor the beach, but this degrades beach access and can even accelerate erosion. Based on recommendations from the master plan, the city is looking to weather the coming winter with less intrusive measures.

Policy Letter Monday, October 19, 2015

SPUR supports the proposal to draft an urban agriculture incentive zone ordinance in San Jose. In addition to the items highlighted in the memo, we encourage the committee to also direct staff to explore adding a clause in the ordinance to require urban agriculture sites to demonstrate a public benefit in order to qualify for an incentive contract.

Blog Monday, October 5, 2015

This fall, multiple jurisdictions, including Santa Clara County and Sacramento, have followed San Francisco’s model and created urban agriculture incentive zones of their own or have taken official steps toward doing so.


Our priorities for Sustainable Development


Our water and wastewater systems are aging and in need of repair and reinvestment. Reliability of these lifelines is essential to the future of the City's environment and economy. We can rebuild them in a way that more sustainably manages resources than we have in the past.


San Francisco has many options to achieve greenhouse gas reductions from major emissions sources: energy, waste, land use and transportation. The City has set an aggressive target for reductions, and a cost-effective approach will help us reach it most efficiently.


The concept of waste is not a sustainable one. To the extent possible, we should maximize the use of resources and prevent them from becoming wastes. This means diverting waste from landfills, composting organics, and putting rainwater to use instead of letting it flow into the sewer system.


San Francisco now has some of the greenest codes for new construction in the country. To reduce our carbon footprint and meet our climate change goals, we need to retrofit existing buildings to conserve resources. Conveniently, energy efficiency--and renewable energy over the long term--is usually a cost-saving investment for building owners. People just need to know what to do and how to do it.

Sustainable Development Updates

To get regular updates on sustainable development activities contact SPUR Sustainable Development Policy Director Laura Tam at