Sarah Karlinsky

Senior Advisor

President’s Office

Housing and land use special projects
(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 A New Transit-First Neighborhood for San Francisco, Affordable By Design, Secrets of San Francisco, Defining What San Francisco Needs From Its Seismic Mitigation Policies, Safe Enough to Stay, On Solid Ground, Taking Down a Freeway to Reconnect a Neighborhood and Historic Preservation in San Francisco: Making the Preservation Process Work for Everyone. From 2009 to 2014, Sarah served as SPUR’s deputy director, where she was responsible for managing SPUR’s policy and public engagement efforts. From 2005 to 2009, Sarah was SPUR’s policy director, staffing all of SPUR’s housing and land use work. 

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.