Sustainable Development

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


Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Mayor Ed Lee visit Ocean Beach on December 18th to witness the impacts of rising seas on the San Francisco coastline.
Blog Monday, January 5, 2015

The proactive adaptation measures for Ocean Beach – including managed retreat, coastal protection, and environmental restoration -- have garnered the attention of the Obama administration, most recently through visits from Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, and Mike Boots, acting chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Article Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 began as the driest year ever recorded in California. It is likely to close out as the fourth driest year in more than a thousand years — even with our recent storms. The worst drought in more than 30 years is forcing the state to reckon with its anachronistic water management system, and to find solutions for this century’s changing climate and growing population.

Blog Sunday, December 7, 2014

The City of Oakland recently made it easier for urban farmers and gardeners to start new projects. On November 18, the City Council unanimously approved changes to the city planning code that clarifies what types of urban agriculture are allowed in each part of the city and expanded the areas where residents can cultivate crops and produce honey. 

Blog Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When it comes to weighing city policy priorities, parks have historically come up short on the ability to demonstrate their economic value. But San Francisco's open spaces and recreational opportunities are actually worth about $1 billion per year, according to a new report from the Trust for Public Land and the SF Parks Alliance.

Yes on D Sign from Berkeley
Blog Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This election, for the first time ever, a majority of voters in two American cities supported taxing sugar-sweetened beverages. Berkeley voters passed their measure, while San Francisco's measure, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, fell short.  The results raise the question: why did Berkeley’s measure do so much better than San Francisco’s? A number of factors were at play.


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