Sarah Karlinsky

Senior Advisor

President’s Office

Housing and land use policy, organizational strategy
(415) 577-1411

Sarah Karlinsky is an expert in housing and land use policy. She has led the publication of numerous SPUR policy reports, including Room for MoreA New Transit-First Neighborhood for San FranciscoAffordable By DesignSecrets of San FranciscoDefining What San Francisco Needs From Its Seismic Mitigation PoliciesSafe Enough to StayOn Solid GroundTaking Down a Freeway to Reconnect a Neighborhood and Historic Preservation in San Francisco: Making the Preservation Process Work for Everyone. Sarah has worked at SPUR since 2005 in various roles, including as SPUR’s sole policy director responsible for land use and housing policy in San Francisco (2005-2009), deputy director (2009 to 2014) and director of policy (2018-2019). In her current role, Sarah works on housing policy and advises the CEO and director of policy on policy and organizational matters. 

Prior to joining SPUR, Sarah developed affordable housing throughout the Bay Area with Mid-Pen Housing, one of the largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing in the Bay Area. She has served on the boards on many Bay Area nonprofits, including Community Housing Partnership, TransForm and Urban Ecology, and has taught land use planning at San Francisco State University.

Sarah began her career teaching urban planning to middle school students as a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in public policy and urban planning from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University She is the author of Smart Growth and Community Development Corporations: Putting Policy into Practice, published by the National Reinvestment Corporation and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Sarah holds a BA in history from Columbia University.