We believe education empowers people to take an active role in creating a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous region. That's why the majority of our programming is now free to the public.

Upcoming Events

December 2022

469 stevenson parking lot
Dec
6
Tue
San Francisco

469 Stevenson St and the Future of Housing Accountability in California [in-person event]

In-Person Event to
Join UC Davis law professor Chris Elmendorf and SPUR for a conversation about the notorious “Nordstrom’s parking lot” housing development that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors held up with dubious demands for additional environmental review. Chris will walk us through the relationship between the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, and the state’s Housing Accountability Act, and discuss the recent court decision in the 469 Stevenson case and potential solutions. There’ll be plenty of time for Q&A, too.
small structures on table
Dec
8
Thu
San Francisco

Small Infrastructures: Exhibition Opening and Holiday Gathering

Exhibition Opening to
In March 2021, the Biden Administration released the American Jobs Plan, earmarking $213B for “quality” and “affordable” housing, yet the bill lacks specificity on how houses are to be built. Here housing’s problem is split into two: a social one of accessibility and equity, and a material one of wood, metal, and rocks. Architects can play a unique role in bridging abstract policy ambitions to real construction as these connections are made every day in practice.  Although accessible housing has been cast in many forms, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have been a catalyst for including architects in direct policy development. For the first time, cities are directly contracting with architects to provide designs for private property through pre-approved ADU programs. These programs reflect a plurality of ideas, though without rigorous consideration for how the costs of site work, labor, materials, and energy make quality housing sustainable. Small Infrastructures is an exhibition of ADU designs that uses the economics of building assembly as the groundwork for experimentation. Ten architects teaching at Harvard GSD and Berkeley CED consider the overlaps between academia, where cost is often external to conceptual work, and practice, where budgeting is an integral task. Curated by Michelle Chang and Rudabeh Pakravan *Whether you’re ready to mingle with the SPUR community or learn about cutting edge ADU designs, we invite you to come back to the SPUR Urban Center this holiday season and have a drink on us! ***New Activity*** Build your own gingerbread ADU with us and showcase your design skills inspired by the exhibition!

January 2023

photo of downtown oakland
Jan
5
Thu
Oakland

Planning for the Future of Oakland’s Downtown

Digital Discourse to
Downtown Oakland is the heart of the East Bay and the physical and historic center of Oakland. The City of Oakland is currently finalizing its Downtown Oakland Specific Plan (DOSP) to ensure the continued growth and vitality of the city's core. The DOSP includes policies to guide future development — linking land use, transportation, economic development, housing, public spaces, cultural arts and social equity. Join us for a conversation with Oakland's Downtown Oakland Specific Plan project team on how the plan will impact the community in downtown Oakland, as well as the city as a whole, and what city leaders need to do to ensure its successful implementation.
people in street in vienna austria
Jan
10
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Social Housing in Vienna: A Model for California?

Digital Discourse to
California’s housing affordability crisis has compelled policymakers to look at unconventional ways to boost housing production across the state. Vienna has a rich tradition of building social housing — government-supported, mixed-income, rent-restricted housing — for a large portion of its residents. A recent study trip to Vienna helped demonstrate how social housing is financed, built and maintained. Hear from Bay Area housing experts who participated in this trip on how social housing works in Vienna and what lessons can be learned and applied here in California to help create more housing affordability.
corner market on 23rd and mission
Jan
12
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Building to Last: Creating Local Ecosystems to Support Business Owners of Color

Lunchtime Forum to
Small businesses have long been one of the few ways communities of color are able to build wealth. However, the difficulties of operating a small business are magnified for small business owners of color, who have to navigate both the complexities of business operation and structural racism that can deny them access to resources. Community benefit organizations, or CBOs, have been instrumental in helping small businesses tackle these challenges. Join us for a panel discussion on how CBOs are working to develop local ecosystems to support business owners of color over the long term.
buildings under construction
Jan
17
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Housing on the Ballot in California

Digital Discourse to
Up and down the state, local jurisdictions placed housing measures on the ballot in the November 2022 election. Issues included stopping affordable housing from being built in wealthy communities, taxing vacant units, mechanisms to streamline housing production and protections for tenants. A recent article by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, cataloged each housing measure on the ballot for the November 2022 election, and reporting by KQED sought to make sense of what each measure means for housing in our state. This digital discourse will explore which of these measures passed, which failed and what the outcomes means for housing in California.
Town Meeting
Jan
18
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Demystifying City Spending through Participatory Budgeting

Lunchtime Forum to
City budgets can be obscure documents formed without much transparency or public input. While information about budgets is publicly available on government websites, outreach can be insufficient to help the general public understand how budgeting decisions impact their lives. Recently, some cities have experimented with participatory budgeting to help bridge this information gap. Advocates, academics and officials have all been engaged in this work at the local level to make democracy more inclusive. Join us to discuss how participatory budgeting can empower people to come together and decide how to spend public money.
aireal photo of sf and oakland
Jan
19
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Concrete Building Retrofits: San Francisco’s Next Steps in Meeting Seismic Resilience Goals

Digital Discourse to
Wondering when the next big earthquake will rattle the Golden State? According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there is a 72 percent chance that the San Francisco Bay Area will experience a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or greater within the next 3020 years. If we don’t take steps now to make our built environment safer and more resilient, the Bay Area could see significant damage and loss of life, followed by long-term economic and social losses. City leaders in San Francisco are looking at different ways to address the growing need to protect the city from a disastrous outcome when the “Big One” shakes the region. Building on the success of its Soft Story Retrofit Program, San Francisco is turning its attention to two of the city’s most hazardous building types: concrete tilt-ups and non-ductile concrete. Join us for a discussion with representatives from San Francisco’s Office of Resilience & Capital Planning on this new program.
Aerial view of brightly colored peppers, squash, green beans and eggplants in boxes
Jan
25
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Making SNAP Incentives a Snap (on the EBT Card)

Lunchtime Forum to
Around the country, many local governments and organizations (including SPUR) run healthy food incentive programs to increase low-income families' purchasing power for fruits and vegetables. These bonus dollars are often provided through a variety of technologies, including paper coupons and loyalty cards. Recently, three states have begun the process of replicating what Massachusetts pioneered in 2012: providing the bonus dollars directly back onto a customer's government-issued food assistance card (known as an EBT card). This shift in technology aims to make the program simpler for customers, easier for grocers and more efficient for program administrators. Join our panel discussion to learn about the origin and future of these EBT integration projects in California, Washington and Rhode Island.
Traffic on Highway 101
Jan
26
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Is the Price Right? Exploring Solutions for Addressing Freeway Congestion

Lunchtime Forum to
Whether you’re driving alone or in a carpool or riding a bus, you’ve probably noticed that the Bay Area’s freeways are just too congested. Yet widening roads isn’t sustainable, environmentally or financially. That’s why the Bay Area is now exploring a user fee for driving on congested freeways, especially in corridors with good public transportation. But can we price roads in a way that advances social and racial equity? How can pricing efforts protect people displaced to areas with few transit choices? Could transit improvements be put in before tolls begin? In this Digital Discourse, hear how the Next Generation Freeway Study is answering these and other critical questions.

February 2023

people standing next to a poster
Feb
2
Thu
Oakland

Reclaiming Indigenous Lands in Cities: Lessons From Oakland

Digital Discourse to
In September 2022, the City of Oakland announced its plans to return approximately five acres of city-owned land to Indigenous stewardship, in partnership with the Sogorea Te' Land Trust. Occupying the land for thousands of years, Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people were forcibly removed from their lands during the 18th century by Europeans and their descendants. This returning of land through Indigenous stewardship would allow the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust to immediately start tending to the land, restoring it to its natural state, a cultural practice among other uses as determined by the trust. Learn more about how this reclamation unfolded and the lessons it holds for developing partnerships between tribal or Indigenous-led groups and government.
Senator Skinner chats with constituents.
Feb
2
Thu
Oakland

A Conversation with Senator Nancy Skinner [In-Person Program]

Evening Forum to
Elected to the California State Senate in 2016, following three terms in the California State Assembly, Senator Nancy Skinner is a social justice and climate change advocate and leader in the legislature. She currently chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and is vice chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus. In her six years in the senate, she has authored and successfully passed landmark legislation that has tackled housing affordability, criminal justice reform, income inequality and other issues. Join us for a one-on-one conversation with the senator to learn more about what she plans to accomplish this year and her outlook for the current legislative session.
Group of participants from the SPUR study trip watch a presentation on car-free Copenhagen in a brightly lit room with wooden furniture and posters
Feb
7
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Saying “Hej” to New Ideas: Learning From Copenhagen

Special Program to
Every year, SPUR takes an annual study trip to another city to learn how other places address urban challenges. In 2022, SPUR traveled to Copenhagen, the canal-lined capital of Denmark that took big steps to reform its housing, government, transportation and climate goals after a brush with bankruptcy in the 1980s. The trip participants learned all about the Danes’ approaches to social housing, about their embrace of the bicycle, their goals for a zero-carbon future - but what’s changed since July of 2022, and how can the Bay area learn from it? Join us for this special forum to recap what we learned from the Danes, discover what challenges Copenhagen is still grappling with and what lessons we can apply here in the Bay Area.
construction in the distance
Feb
8
Wed
San Francisco

Occupation: Boundary: Art, Architecture and Culture at the Water

In-Person Event to
Join us for a book talk examining the ways that art and architecture activate the public realm. Occupation:Boundary features historical and contemporary images of architecture, landscape and urban design at the border between the city and the sea. At a moment that demands innovative approaches to the transformation of urban waterfronts, and strategies to foster resilient boundaries, architect Cathy Simon recounts her work and that of other designers at and around the water’s edge in service to the public realm.
View of Caltrain railyard, SF, with skyline and bay bridge in baxkground
Feb
9
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

A Conversation With Caltrans Director Tony Tavares

Digital Discourse to
Since June 2022, Tony Tavares has served as the 34th director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), where he manages a nearly $20 billion budget and 22,000 employees who oversee California's highways, bridges, airports and rail. Tavares, a civil engineering graduate, has held a number of positions in California's transportation sector, most recently director of the Caltrans Los Angeles District 7. Now, as Caltrans director, Tavares will advance efforts for safe and sustainable communities across the state. His people-first vision for California's transportation encompasses sustainability, equity, accessibility and safety across all modes of transit. Join us for a conversation with Director Tavares about that vision and his plans for implementing the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), road and congestion pricing, bus priority and express lane conversions, tearing down highways and avoiding the transit fiscal cliff.
Patrons purchase vegetables at a vegetable stand
Feb
9
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Serving Health: How California Can Change Usher in the Future of Food-based Interventions in Medi-Cal

Digital Discourse to
Medically supportive food and nutrition interventions such as produce prescriptions, food pharmacies and medically tailored meals can improve healthcare outcomes and reduce healthcare costs for people across the state. Starting in 2022, California authorized a pilot program to cover these interventions under Medi-Cal. However, they are currently optional pilot services, meaning millions of individuals who could benefit from food-based interventions are left out. Fortunately, California has the opportunity during this legislative session to expand the benefits of these interventions. Join us for a discussion of what that action would mean, how it would work and who would benefit.
hetch hetchy
Feb
10
Fri
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Water Equity, Affordability and Climate Change

Digital Discourse to
As California’s drought continues to worsen, residents across the state are facing a water affordability crisis. Water rate increases for Californians are expected to accelerate as the climate continues to change and the state’s infrastructure continues to age, further burdening low-income communities. But that outcome isn’t inevitable. Join us for a discussion of ways to curb water rate increases and mitigate the disproportionate impact on low-income customers, including greater water efficiency, better long-term planning and more equitable rate structures.
bart train
Feb
14
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Better Together: Collaborating to Create the Future of Rail

Lunchtime Forum to
Transportation leaders throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are looking to invest in other modes of transportation, as well as deliver more efficient transportation design, scope and infrastructure. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has been diligently working on a study that examines how rail agencies throughout the region can work collaboratively on larger rail projects and operations. Join us as we discuss the findings from this new Regional Rail Study with Metropolitan Transportation Commission staff and other transportation partners throughout the region, and learn what these findings mean for the future of rail transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Wide view of Berryessa BART
Feb
15
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

New Ideas for Regional Planning in California

Digital Discourse to
In the last few years, California has spent more than $1 billion to support regional planning, including $600 million from regional early-action planning grants, $600 million for the Community Economic Resilience Fund, and $25 million for climate adaptation planning. Although the overall investment in “regions-up” planning is unprecedented, it remains insufficient. Given how many key planning issues in California require an approach that integrates housing, job location, climate adaptation, transit recovery, reduced vehicle travel and greenhouse gas emissions and more equitable economic development, some would like to further elevate the authority of regional agencies. Come hear the architects of this idea discuss the state of regional planning in California today and learn what else is needed to fully tackle the interconnected demands facing metropolitan regions.
Five Wounds National Portuguese Church - large white structure with red detailing - view from road
Feb
16
Thu
San José

Exploring the 28th Street/Little Portugal BART Station [Tour]

Tour to
BART Phase II will extend service to downtown San José with three new stations (plus another one in the City of Santa Clara). One of those stations, the 28th Street/Little Portugal station, will reside in San José’s Little Portugal, a community whose strong Portuguese and Latin American identities have made it a destination for arts, architecture, delicious food and a rich culture. The station will serve many multi-generational businesses and the beautiful Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish by connecting San José to Santa Clara, Richmond and San Francisco/Daly City. Join us to learn about the plans for the station area, including a review of approved transit-oriented communities (TOC) policies, the update to the city's Five Wounds Urban Villages Plan, and VTA's creation of a design development framework to shape future transit-oriented development on VTA properties.
folks riding on JFK drive
Feb
16
Thu
San Francisco

Where Is the Access?: Making San Francisco's Parks Equitable for All

Digital Discourse to
San Francisco is known for its beautiful parks and open space, and their importance to social and physical wellbeing has only been emphasized by the pandemic. However, racist land use and housing laws and practices have led to inequitable access to safe parks and open space. According to a recent study by the Trust for Public Land, San Francisco's communities of color had 56 percent less nearby park space than white neighborhoods. Learn how community organizations in San Francisco are creating out-of-the-box solutions to provide opportunities for people of color, especially families and children, to enjoy parks and open space.
A slow street in San Francisco where pedestrians are walking, biking and scootering.
Feb
21
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Making Micromobility Work in San Francisco

Digital Discourse to
Micromobility tools like bicycles, e-bikes, scooters and other small, wheeled devices offer people more options for traveling shorter distances. A number of cities have explored micromobility as a way to advance climate goals and lower traffic congestion. However, San Francisco has struggled to regulate and embrace micromobility for the public good. . San Francisco is starting a citywide planning process, the Active Communities Plan, to foster adoption of all forms of active mobility that can legally operate on bike lanes, be they human-powered or motor-powered. Join us to identify thought-provoking ideas to leverage micromobility to support the city’s mobility, climate, access and equity goals.
Many people sit outside eating at Pho Ha Noi in San Jose
Feb
22
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Activating ARPA for BIPOC Owned Businesses

Digital Discourse to
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law in 2021, with the goal of speeding up the country's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA put billions toward small business support and recovery, and it gave states billions more to help with economic shocks from the pandemic. This funding provides a unique opportunity to support business owners of color, who historically have been excluded from large government funding efforts. Join us for a panel discussion on how funders, local governments, and advocates can activate ARPA funding to support the long-term needs of small businesses of color.
Busses on Market Street, San Francisco
Feb
28
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

San Francisco’s Transportation Element and the General Plan

Digital Discourse to
How can San Francisco’s transportation system be transformed to equitably and efficiently get people where they want to go — while helping to meet the city’s safety goals, mitigate the affordability and housing crisis, and tackle the climate emergency? The San Francisco Planning Department is working on a new Transportation Element, last adopted in 1996, to modernize the city’s policies to address these issues. The renewal of the Transportation Element is part of the Planning Department’s larger initiative to update the city’s General Plan. Join us to learn more — and share your ideas! — about what will be in the Transportation Element and how the next generation of the General Plan and its elements will be shaped.
san francisco skyline
Feb
28
Tue
San Francisco

[Date & Time TBD] Closing the Affordability Gap on Electric Appliances: Affordable Decarbonization of Existing Buildings

Digital Discourse to
*Please note that the date and time for this forum is still to be determined. Once a date is set, this event page will automatically be updated. California urgently needs to convert to zero-emission building appliances to curb climate change and reduce the health impacts of fossil fuel appliances. Emissions from building appliances have flown below the radar for years as policymakers focused on reducing emissions from power plants and transportation. Although the climate and health benefits of converting to clean appliances are enormous, installing a new heat pump is typically more expensive than just replacing a broken gas appliance like-for-like. The incremental costs — in the range of thousands of dollars — can be prohibitive for low-income households. Moreover it’s possible that landlords of affordable rental units will raise rents when faced with a new additional expense. SPUR presents our findings from the report Closing the Affordability Gap on Electric Appliances, which presents insights on strategies to fill the affordability gap.
If, in order to participate in a SPUR event, you need auxiliary aids or services for a disability (e.g., qualified interpreter, qualified reader, written materials, taped texts) please submit your request five business days before the event to publicprograms@spur.org or 415-781-8726 x132. SPUR will work with you in identifying effective auxiliary aids or services that it can provide. If you need to cancel your request, please notify SPUR at least two business days before the event.