A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

How Reviving a Forgotten California Law Can Make Commuting More Sustainable

Free employee parking is a valuable job perk, but there’s one serious downside: It encourages commuting by car and hinders efforts to promote sustainable alternatives. One tool for countering this effect is parking cash out: offering the cash equivalent of a parking space to employees who don't drive to work. California passed a parking cash out law in 1992, but 30 years in, Santa Monica is still the only place in the state that requires employers to comply. Here's how the state can revitalize this underused tool to reach its long-term climate goals.

San José City Council Should Embrace a New Vision for Coyote Valley

San José is on the cusp of deepening its commitment to growing up, rather than out. The city has a unique and critical opportunity to concentrate growth within its existing urbanized areas rather than sprawling further. But it will miss a critical opportunity unless the City Council accepts the recommendations of the Planning Department and the Envision San José 2040 General Plan Four Year Review Task Force related to Coyote Valley.

Does the Bay Area Have the Water It Needs to Grow?

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency, salmon are on the brink of extinction and rivers are choked with toxic algae because too much water is diverted for farms and cities. Does the Bay Area really have enough water to continue to grow? We found that the answer is yes — if the region adopts comprehensive water efficiency measures and smart land-use planning.

The Bay Area Won’t Meet Its Goals Without a New Transit-Oriented Development Policy

The crises that confronted the Bay Area before the COVID-19 pandemic have not gone away: inadequate and unaffordable housing, growing racial inequality and growing impacts from climate change. Building diverse communities with much more housing, services and jobs near transit is the best opportunity we have to tackle these challenges. The newly released Plan Bay Area 2050 charts a path to this future, but an outdated policy from 2005 is standing in the way.

Caltrain Has Become a Regional Railroad — Now Its Governance Must Follow

Regional transit coordination and integration are urgent priorities for Caltrain. As board members prepare for Caltrain’s October 22 special meeting on regional governance options, SPUR urges the agency to commit itself to open-minded engagement in regional transit governance discussions. Caltrain needs to consider new institutional models that would grow its capacity and enable greater regionalism.

SPUR Welcomes Sujata Srivastava as San Francisco Director

SPUR is pleased to announce that Sujata Srivastava has joined the organization as San Francisco director. “We’re so excited Sujata has joined SPUR,” says San Francisco Board Chair Ariane Hogan. “Her deep, practical experience in housing, urban planning and economic development policy is exactly what San Francisco needs as it faces tremendous hurdles to ensuring that the city is strong, welcoming and sustainable.”

SPUR Welcomes Laura Shipman as Community Planning Policy Director

SPUR is pleased to announce that Laura Shipman has joined the organization as community planning policy director. She brings a wealth of knowledge as a planner and urban designer with experience working in communities throughout the country. She looks forward to partnering with Bay Area communities to work toward lasting solutions to their most pressing needs.

How to Ensure Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic and Flourish in the Future

Small businesses account for 99.8% of all of California’s businesses and employ 48.5% of the state’s employees. Small businesses of color, in particular, have become the foundation of entire economies. SPUR hosted a conversation with Ahmed Ali Bob of Square, Christina Bernardin of Boston Properties and Elisse Douglass of the Oakland Black Business Fund on the vital role of small businesses, particularly Black-owned and businesses of color.

For Bay Area Transit, a Turning Point

In the early months of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission convened a Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force to stabilize and reimagine public transit in the face of a severe financial crisis. This month, the task force released its Transit Transformation Action Plan with 27 actions to reimagine transit and set the stage for new legislation, commission policies, funding and governance changes in upcoming years.