We believe education empowers people to take an active role in creating a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous region. So, beginning March 1, we’re making the majority of our programming free to the public.

Upcoming Events

May 2022

Lighting art in downtown San José
May
31
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Planning More Illuminated Cities

Special Program to
Is your night experience in cities poetic or fearful? Though architects and planners design the world around us primarily for the daytime hours, half of our lives are spent in the dark. Some individuals, such as culture lovers and clubbers, choose to go out at night, while others, like shift workers, must do so as part of their jobs. And let’s not forget the wintertime, when most of us experience cities after the sun sets early. However, regardless of the reasons that we traverse cities at night, well-designed illumination is vital to accessing our cities during these darkened hours. It connects us to fresh air and social interactions, while boosting local economies and augmenting safety and a sense of welcome. Join noted lighting urbanist Leni Schwendinger as she leads a panel of international lighting and urban design leaders to explore the perceptions, realities and creative possibilities of the city at night.
Downtown San Francisco
May
31
Tue
San Francisco

Bringing New Life to Downtown San Francisco

Tour to
Downtown San Francisco has long been one of the city’s most bustling districts. Every weekday, hundreds of thousands of workers would bring the streets to life, creating a density of activity not seen anywhere else in the Bay Area. The pandemic has changed that, however, and though life is beginning to return, today the streets of neighborhoods like the Financial District and Jackson Square are far more hushed. Downtown SF, the city’s newest community benefit district is aiming to expedite that course by reinjecting new vitality into the neighborhood and strengthening its identity as the city’s core. Created in 2020, Downtown SF handles services above and beyond those offered by the city, including cleaning, safety and mobility within its 43-block radius, but it’s also undertaking ambitious public realm projects like Let’s Glow SF, the largest holiday projection mapping event in the U.S and creating new public spaces with art, seating and lighting. Take a tour with the Downtown SF’s leadership and learn how they’re planning for the future of the district.

June 2022

berryessa roof tops
Jun
2
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Budgeting for Climate Resilience in California

Lunchtime Forum to
The California State Senate has proposed spending a record $18 billion on climate change resilience this year, outstripping even the Governor’s office in the scope and scale of their ambitions. The Bay Area’s own Senator Robert Wieckowski, representing the 10th Senate District of southern Alameda and northern Santa Clara counties, has championed these efforts from his position as the chair of the budget subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy. Come hear Senator Wieckowski as he discusses the Senate's bold climate vision and how he and his colleagues are working to turn it into reality.
buildings
Jun
7
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Comprehending the Contested Complexity of CEQA

Evening Forum to
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), adopted in 1970, is the state’s key environmental protection statute. It requires state and local agencies to analyze proposed construction projects, publicly report potential environmental impacts and undertake all feasible measures to avoid or mitigate those impacts. Though the law established California as a world leader in environmental protection, many have argued that its abuse is an impediment to environmentally-friendly projects and directly responsible for the state’s housing crisis, as CEQA-related processes serve to delay, downsize or even block new development, transportation and infrastructure projects. The reality of the matter is as complex as the law itself. While some groups view CEQA as an outdated and counterproductive law in dire need of drastic reform, others see it as a critical shield for protecting the vulnerable, from California’s wildlands to its underrepresented communities. Take part in a discussion as we discuss the goals of CEQA, its successes and failures and what it might take to reform the embattled law while maintaining or even strengthening environmental protection.
Large apartment complex
Jun
9
Thu
San Francisco

Housing the Bay 2022

Partnering Event to
Over the last five years, Housing the Bay has examined the drivers of our housing crisis, highlighted public and private sector solutions, and elevated the voices of a broad range of people from across our industry and across North America. This year, ULI will continue to bring you the most compelling ideas and innovations for generating more housing supply and increasing housing affordability, with a clear-eyed focus on how we can go big. Join ULI and partners on June 9, 2022 for a full-day of inspiring speakers, invigorating discussions, game changing ideas, and tangible actions we can get to work on right away. Bring your mind, your energy, and your commitment to building the Bay Area that we need and deserve to what is certain to be the Bay Area housing event of the year. Presented by ULI San Francisco.
homes
Jun
9
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

A Home Run For Homes

Lunchtime Forum to
In 2016, the City of San Diego implemented the Affordable Homes Bonus Program (AHBP), which allows developers to build additional housing if they also dedicate a portion of the new development to be affordable. The program, which builds on top of California’s existing Density Bonus Law, has enabled a substantial increase in the production of market-rate and deed-restricted affordable homes in San Diego. The newly released report, Home Run for Homes: Celebrating Success of San Diego’s Affordable Homes Bonus Program, dives into how the AHBP is able to succeed in the face of skyrocketing housing costs. Come hear from the program’s architects, in conversation with experts from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, about how the AHBP could be more widely implemented to tackle California’s ongoing housing crisis.
salesforce transit center
Jun
13
Mon
San Francisco

Bringing the Trains to the Transit Center

Tour to
Opened in 2018, and stretching across four blocks in downtown San Francisco, Salesforce Transit Center is the Bay Area’s largest regional transportation hub. Though the facility serves seven different transit operators whose networks extend as far as Hercules, Palo Alto and Santa Rosa, buses are the only public transit mode currently available. That will all change, however, when the transit center’s train platforms open later this decade as part of the Downtown Rail Extension: an ambitious, six-track infrastructural expansion that will facilitate access to Caltrain and, eventually, California High-Speed Rail. Join SPUR and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority for a behind-the-scenes tour of Salesforce Transit Center. We’ll take a look at the center’s current operations before descending underground to explore the train box, a key component that, when finished, will make the facility the true Grand Central Station of the West. In partnership with the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.
crane and building under construction
Jun
14
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Education Workforce Housing in California: Developing the 21st Century Campus

Lunchtime Forum to
As home prices soar throughout the state, one of the most prominent groups impacted are educators. Teachers and staff working in public school systems across California are struggling to find affordable housing in and around the communities in which they work. That scarcity forces long commutes or, in some cases, the decision to cohabitate with colleagues in order to stay within close proximity to the school where they’re employed. And as housing affordability challenges create acute staffing challenges, more school districts are considering building workforce housing on land they own. Join us for a comprehensive overview of the potential for school district land across the state to be designed and developed for affordable housing for the education workforce and hear from a developer about what it takes to get this done. Co-presented by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
event banner
Jun
16
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Housing+ | Future Typologies for a Livable and Equitable San Francisco

Partnering Event to
The American Institute of Architects, San Francisco (AIASF), in collaboration with the Center for Architecture + Design and AIASF's Housing Committee, present this year's two-day virtual symposium, Housing+ | Future Typologies for a Livable + Equitable San Francisco. Speakers representing organizations at the frontlines will address San Francisco's growing population, explore ways that we can ensure more livable and equitable housing opportunities for more vibrant communities and take a deep-dive into The California H.O.M.E. Act (SB9), the product of a multi-year effort to develop solutions to address the state's housing crisis.
A rendering of new housing
Jun
16
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Innovative Solutions in the Face of California's Growing Housing Crisis

Lunchtime Forum to
The cost of housing across the San Francisco Bay Area has grown exponentially over the last decade, leading to many homes becoming unaffordable for many families. As policymakers and experts look at different ways to address this ever-growing dilemma, companies like Nabr and Abodu are developing © solutions to providing affordable homeownership opportunities for Bay Area residents looking to purchase a home. Join us for a conversation with both companies to learn about the plans and products that each is implementing in an attempt to relieve the Bay Area’s worsening housing crisis.
east bay
Jun
21
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Fixer Upper: How to Repair America's Broken Housing Systems

Lunchtime Forum to
Housing prices in communities across the country are on the rise, reducing the number of affordable homes available for middle- and low-income families. Legislators and policy experts throughout the United States have been tirelessly working to alleviate the widening housing crisis through the implementation of new zoning policies, the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and by investing in the development of our cities’ urban cores. However, as described in her new book, Fixer Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems, Brookings’ Senior Fellow Jenny Schuetz argues that most discussions about how to address the housing crisis miss a key notion: that the nation’s housing systems have been constructed to be fundamentally unequal in nature. Join us to explore the arguments posed in her book and learn what it will take to create more affordable, and more widely available, housing stock across the country.
SPUR urban center
Jun
22
Wed
San Francisco

Using SPUR as a Testbed for Decarbonization In San Francisco

Lunchtime Forum to
Inspired by the call in San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan for commercial buildings to cease use of fossil fuels by 2035, SPUR has partnered with the Danish Energy Agency and San Francisco Department of the Environment to craft a roadmap for how to decarbonize the SPUR Urban Center, our downtown San Francisco headquarters. The completion of the initial study provided us with some good news: the conversion shouldn’t be overly difficult or expensive, a positive indicator for other local building owners who are exploring the potential of decarbonization. We’ll be joined by the study authors and the San Francisco Department of the Environment to hear what resulted from their analysis Urban Center and why the time to start planning to decarbonize your commercial building is now.
Rainbow Produce Section
Jun
28
Tue
San Francisco

A Peek Behind the Bulk Bins, Brie and Boysenberries

Tour to
Most people shop at their local grocery store without giving a second thought to how it operates. But look behind the scenes and you’ll find that these places are a logistical wonderland. From handling complex orders to managing diverse inventories, a lot happens to ensure that your favorite products are consistently stocked on the shelves. So how does it all work so seamlessly? Find out with us as we take a tour of Rainbow Grocery, the beloved, worker-owned grocery store in the heart of the Mission District that’s been a staple of San Francisco’s sustainable food scene since 1975.
buildings
Jun
29
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

A New Social Contract for Housing in California

Lunchtime Forum to
California's housing crisis is now decades old, but its not for lack of good ideas, good planners or serious resources. How do we build the type of grand bargains and big coalitions needed to make change? How do we even build the political will to change our housing system? A recent book by author Alex Schafran, Where We Go From Here, explores how new approaches to the real estate economy, to homeownership and resident control and to questions of race and geography can help us design a better housing policy in the Golden State. Join us for a provocative exploration of what a new social contract for housing in California could look like.
Image of a lobby
Jun
30
Thu
San José

All-Use Buildings and the Pursuit of Equitable, Resilient Communities [In-Person Program]

Evening Forum to
Buildings are typically designed for a single use: offices are offices, restaurants are restaurants and houses are houses. But what happens to any of these building types when not in use? They often lie fallow, becoming not only an inefficient use of space, but reducing the vibrancy and overall health of their surrounding communities, as well. Mixed-use buildings, which combine multiple complementary uses under one roof, are one solution to this challenge, but is there a way to take the concept even further and move to the idea of rotational uses? Could we design proactively so as to reduce commercial vacancies, lower housing costs, improve inclusion and address the impacts of climate change? Proponents of “all-use buildings” argue that it’s possible, and that designing for ultimate flexibility of use is critical if we want to build truly sustainable, equitable, elastic and economically-strong communities. Come learn more about these radically innovative buildings and how they might serve as the foundation of tomorrow’s neighborhoods.

July 2022

Dogpatch Public Realm Aerial Perspective
Jul
9
Sat
San Francisco

Urban Verdancy in San Francisco's Eastern Edge

Tour to
The Dogpatch, a historic maritime industrial area once on the fringe of San Francisco, has long been one of the city's most inventive neighborhoods. In recent years, it's proven itself a hotbed of experimental, community-driven landscape interventions that expand and enhance the community’s verdant public spaces. The area has become a confluence for innovative works designed by Dogpatch-based Fletcher Studio, groundbreaking public space plans — including the Dogpatch Public Realm Plan and the 22nd Street Master Plan — and urban greening projects facilitated by the Dogpatch & Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District, a first-in-the-nation assessment district established in 2015 that covers 200 acres and 70 blocks of its respective neighborhoods. Take part in a walking tour to visit some of the incredible spaces that have repurposed the neighborhood’s underutilized industrial and municipal infrastructure and learn how the Dogpatch serves as a model of dynamic public space design.
A group of 3 sorts through produce.
Jul
12
Tue
San José

How Food Gets to Those Who Need It

Tour to
One in 10 adults in the Bay Area struggle to consistently find three meals a day, and food banks around the region play a vital role in ensuring that food is accessible to those who need it. However, the pandemic has only served to exacerbate food insecurity in our communities, and local food banks have been required to shift their operations in order to accommodate the increased need. One prime example is Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, which has been serving Santa Clara and San Mateo counties since 1974. Second Harvest is now serving an average of 400,000 people every month — a 60% increase over pre-pandemic levels. Join us for a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour to explore from where Second Harvest sources their food, how they work with more than 300 partners to get it in the hands of those who need it and how you can help support the vision of a Bay Area where everyone is nourished.
Senator Skinner chats with constituents.
Jul
14
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, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and is vice chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus. In her six years in the senate, she’s authored and successfully passed landmark legislation that has tackled housing affordability, criminal justice reform, income inequality and far more. 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 both the state budget and the current legislative session.
zoning map
Jul
19
Tue
San Francisco

How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It [In-Person Program]

Lunchtime Forum to
What if scrapping one flawed policy could bring U.S. cities closer to addressing debilitating housing shortages, stunted growth and innovation, persistent racial and economic segregation and car-dependent development? Zoning maps across the country have come to arbitrarily dictate where Americans may live and work, forcing cities into a pattern of growth that is segregated and sprawling. The new book, Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It, argues that it’s time for America to move beyond zoning as a necessary — if not sufficient — condition for building more affordable, vibrant, equitable and sustainable cities. Hear from the author as he lays the groundwork for this ambitious motion by clearing up common confusions and myths about how American cities regulate growth and examining the major contemporary critiques of zoning.
Person walks by a street market.
Jul
21
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

End Poverty, Make Trillions

Lunchtime Forum to
Millions of people in America live in poverty, struggling to pay their bills, feed their families and make ends meet. That reality has a deeply harmful effect not only on those experiencing it, but also on the rest of America as a whole. The economic costs of childhood poverty alone are $1 trillion a year, and an estimated 170,000 people a year die from poverty in the United States. Darryl Finkton, Jr., the founder of End Poverty. Make Trillions, has a plan to end poverty at the federal level and generate massive economic growth at the same time. His proposal, called the Seed Money Act, would provide unrestricted seed money grants to Americans living below the federal poverty line. Over 10 years, these seed money grants would generate a return of over $8 trillion, save 1.7 million lives and lift 34 million Americans out of poverty. Join us for a one-on-one conversation about poverty, its effects on our society and economy and opportunities to end it once and for all.
split image kid on skateboard
Jul
21
Thu
San Francisco

Exhibition Opening: In the Banlieues

Exhibition Opening to
SPUR’s new exhibition, created in partnership with le Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris, explores the symbolic reversal of the relationship between a region’s central city and its periphery cities, or banlieues — specifically, pairing the cities of San Francisco and Paris with neighboring Oakland and Saint-Denis, respectively. In recent years, Oakland and Saint-Denis have experienced a dramatic evolution, with striking social, urban and cultural similarities that have drawn them into their own prominence. These two cities, some of the most diverse in their respective countries, have become places of cultural and social innovation, where new forms of solidarity are emerging and new ways of sharing ideas and mobilizing communities are being invented. In the Banlieues seeks to deconstruct the similarities and differences between these cities and their relationship with their larger siblings by shedding light on the issues pertinent to each, such as poverty and gentrification. Come explore stories and insights from these communities, and learn how each place is fostering inclusivity while addressing pressing challenges that result from the nature of being a banlieue.
bart train
Jul
27
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

The Future of Rail in the Bay Area

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.
Fruitvale Plaza, Oakland
Jul
29
Fri
Oakland

Exploring Oakland's District 5

Tour to
From Jingletown to Upper Peralta, Highland Park to Melrose, Oakland’s District 5 is one of the city’s most diverse and dynamic. From the effervescent streetlife of International Blvd. to amazing cultural resources like the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, District 5 has far more to enjoy than anyone could experience in an afternoon, a year or even a lifetime. But if you only had one hour, where should you go? Join Councilmember Noel Gallo for a walk in his district to learn about some of his favorite places and understand how he tirelessly works to represent his constituents.

August 2022

water spicket
Aug
3
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Drinking Water Equity in the Bay Area

Lunchtime Forum to
As the drought across California worsens, low income and racial minority communities struggle to access safe, reliable and affordable drinking water. This constant strain often prevents impacted communities from fulfilling what should be simple, everyday needs: cooking, drinking and sanitation. California’s annual Drinking Water Needs Assessment, prepared by the State Water Resources Control Board, identifies failing water systems that disproportionately impact communities of color — and the results are eye-opening. Join us as we dive into learning more about the issues facing water equity and how the Bay Area can address these inequities to provide accessible drinking water to all residents.
San Pedro Square, San José
Aug
9
Tue
San José

Al Fresco, All the Time?

Evening Forum to
Proposed and implemented in 2020 as a way to offer relief to struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, San José Al Fresco — the city’s program to close streets, parking lots and private property for use by diners and shoppers — has led to vibrant streets and economic recovery. Though the program was unanimously extended last year, its applicability in public spaces, such as streets and sidewalks, is scheduled to sunset this June. What does the future hold for outdoor dining and commerce in San José? Join us as we discuss the program's successes and challenges in downtown, as well as across the city, and learn how best practices in shared spaces and slow streets programs can lead to permanent Al Fresco adoption in San José.
Overhead view of Eureka Valley, San Francisco
Aug
11
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Answering the Call to Build Equitable Housing

Evening Forum to
Come participate in a multi-part series that will examine the lasting impacts of property ownership on families, neighborhoods and cities and probe its relationship to intergenerational wealth, exclusionary housing and recently-passed legislation that strives to address inequities of the past and present. In this first program, Joaquin Torres, San Francisco's Assessor-Recorder, will lead a discussion about the myriad tools once used to enable exclusionary practices, from redlining to racist covenants, and how less overt, but equally malicious, transcriptions continue to persist today, such as under-appraisals for property owners of color. Hear from housing justice advocates, researchers, lawmakers and journalists that are taking action to actuate equity in housing and build stronger communities across the country.
Colorful storefronts
Aug
12
Fri
Oakland

Exploring Oakland's District 6

Tour to
Councilmember Loren Taylor has represented District 6 on the Oakland City Council since 2018, serving a swath of neighborhoods stretching from the hills down nearly to the San Leandro Bay. With amazing food, tight-knit communities like Maxwell Park, Havenscourt and Eastmont and longstanding Oakland icons like Mills College and the Coliseum Swap Meet, District 6 has no shortage of sights and experiences. Join the councilmember for a walking tour around the district to see it through his eyes, uncover his favorite hidden gems and learn why he’s proud to represent District 6.
housing in california
Aug
16
Tue
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

How to Build Middle-Income Homes in California

Lunchtime Forum to
Nowhere in California are middle-income households safe from rapidly increasing housing costs, and policymakers and experts from Yreka to San Diego are looking at a variety of ways to address and reduce the incredible burden placed on these families. A new paper from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, The Landscape of Middle-Income Housing Affordability in California, spotlights specific policy opportunities for officials at the state and local levels and identifies how to support the construction of middle-income housing by changing land use policies, building codes and regulations. Take part in an in-depth discussion with the authors of the report to explore what California must do in order to build homes for middle-income families across the state.
Broadway and 19th, Oakland
Aug
18
Thu
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

How Bay Area Cities are Guiding the Region's Housing Growth

Lunchtime Forum to
San Francisco, Oakland and San José are all in the middle of updating their housing elements, a state-mandated, critically-important component of a municipality’s General Plan that helps guide local growth and meet the housing needs of everyone in their community. However, the housing element process is never straightforward, requiring the incorporation of Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) quotas, numerous iterations and significant public outreach before the final draft can be submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Come hear from all three cities as they discuss their respective processes, the challenges they’ve encountered, how each plans to accommodate their RHNA allocations and how their elements can build upon each other to improve the future of housing in the Bay Area.
LAPD patrolling the highway
Aug
31
Wed
San Francisco + San José + Oakland

Life in the (Not So) Fast Lane

Evening Forum to
The Bay Area has a lot of carpool lanes. These lanes are supposed to prioritize high-occupancy vehicles, encouraging more people to carpool. Too often, however, carpool lanes are just as congested as the regular travel lanes that they run adjacent to, rarely guaranteeing expedience. One of the biggest challenges to efficiency in these lanes is the difficulty of enforcement: not only is it dangerous, accurately discerning vehicle occupancy is problematic when faced with tinted windows, nighttime conditions, small children, large dogs or anything else that one might imagine would be an obstacle to error-free headcounts. Thankfully, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is piloting promising new enforcement technologies that dispense with the hazards and subterfuge. Come learn about these “vehicle occupancy detection” pilot programs, their advantages, the concerns about their adoption and what it will take to make our carpool lanes actually work.
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.