Flexible work has decreased the economic activity of downtown San Francisco — and the revenues that pay for public goods and services. Economic recovery will require city leaders to grapple with workplace changes that are likely to endure. But a return to a pre-pandemic downtown is neither realistic nor desirable, given long-standing challenges such as traffic congestion and homelessness. Can downtown build a better “new normal” and forge a reinvention that advances shared prosperity? SPUR is exploring these questions in partnership with civic leaders, local government and the community.
In partnership with San José State University and with funding from the Knight Foundation, we put forth a series of questions to city residents and SJSU students, faculty and staff. The survey results showed that San José residents are less satisfied with their city compared to residents of other cities across the country. Results like this are a reminder of why SPUR exists, and why our work to advance solutions for a better San José — including affordable housing, high-quality transit and improved access to economic opportunities for all residents — are so important.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and food insecurity greatly increased in California, and enrollment in CalFresh — the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — went up significantly. As need has significantly increased, especially for Black and brown Californians, too many of the state’s residents still don’t have enough to eat. This article looks at ideas to help eliminate hunger in California, including automatic enrollment, targeted outreach, state administration of CalFresh, permanently streamlining enrollment and expanding pilot programs that help low-income Californians afford more fresh foods.
On November 8, Oakland residents will vote on a proposal for city government charter reforms. Measure X will create term limits for City Council members, clarify campaigning protocols for current elected officials and strengthen the role of the city auditor to increase accountability across the city. The measure was authored by Councilmember Dan Kalb, who has said that Measure X is a direct outcome of SPUR’s report Making Government Work, which proposed 10 ways to improve Oakland city governance. While Measure X does not include all of SPUR’s recommendations, it moves the needle on improving governance in the City of Oakland.
Last month Governor Newsom signed AB 2594, a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Phil Ting that reforms the way California agencies handle bridge and road tolls. Inspired by SPUR’s report Bridging the Gap, AB 2594 helps modernize the toll system and reduce the harms caused by fines and fees for missing a toll payment. AB 2594 is an important first step in reforming inequitable tolling practices across California, but there’s still more work to be done.
One of the critical steps in addressing California’s housing crisis is making sure that cities build enough housing to meet the needs of everyone in the community. That’s why the state requires every California city to update the housing element section of its general plan every eight years. The latest cycle is underway, and SPUR has been tracking the housing elements in San Francisco, San José and Oakland. Here’s how much housing the cities will be expected to build in the next cycle and three ideas for how they can get there.
Over the past two weeks, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law seven pro-housing production bills sponsored and supported by SPUR and allied members of our statewide California Home Building Alliance. This capped a very successful year of housing advocacy in the Capitol. We’re thrilled with the results of this legislative session and grateful to our partners in this work.
Governments, advocates and businesses already face great challenges in transforming California’s car-oriented transportation system to one that is affordable, equitable and consistent with the state’s climate goals. But it’s even harder when state laws consistently undermine our best efforts. Governor Newsom recently signed three SPUR-sponsored transportation bills that will help affordable and sustainable transportation options succeed by stopping policies and practices that have been undermining their success for decades.
This year, SPUR is celebrating staff members — a.k.a. “Spurritos”— who have served the organization for 10 years or more. This month we profile Sarah Karlinsky, SPUR’s senior advisor, who has held five different roles since she first started at the organization in 2005.
This year, SPUR celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its work in San José. To commemorate all we’ve learned and accomplished together, we asked a dozen SPUR and South Bay leaders to reflect on what San José was like at the time, what SPUR brought to the city and how both have evolved over the past decade.