A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

The World Is Coming to San Francisco. Will Public Transit Be Ready?

World political and business leaders are coming to San Francisco later this year for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit. The Bay Area will use the event to highlight its innovation leadership. Ironically, the region’s claims to environmental leadership and the pursuit of equity will be undercut by a public transit system in freefall — unless the state acts quickly to use readily available and more-than-sufficient funding to help transit agencies step back from a fiscal cliff.

Reducing the Toll of Tolls on Low-Income Drivers

Research shows that low-income families benefit most from the time savings provided by toll roads — but they use these roads less than any other income group. That’s because they are disproportionately burdened by tolls. Toll discount programs like the one just established by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will reduce the impact of tolls on low-income drivers without undermining tolls’ climate and congestion benefits.

Oakland Can Use Its Work on the Proposed Howard Terminal Ballpark to Realize Inclusive Growth

The Oakland A’s decision to abandon negotiations for a new stadium at Howard Terminal is a huge disappointment to Oakland and the city’s many A’s fans. Despite this setback, Oakland remains a viable city for sports investment. And Howard Terminal remains a strong candidate for development. The experience with the A’s has laid the groundwork for future projects in Oakland that meet the city’s economic, environmental, and social standards.

What Comes Next for Downtown San Francisco?

Hybrid work and a scarcity of affordable housing have depopulated San Francisco’s downtown. The consequences have been devastating to San Francisco’s budget, putting essential services and surviving small businesses at risk. How can the city create more economic diversity downtown — and address pre-COVID equity and sustainability challenges? SPUR has identified four key areas on which to focus our downtown revitalization research, engagement, and advocacy.

New Transit-Oriented Communities Policy Encourages Equitable and Sustainable Development

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transit Oriented Communities Policy, passed in 2022, aims to simultaneously address the climate crisis, the Bay Area’s unaffordability, and racial and economic inequities. SPUR reports on the policy’s main components and answers some critical questions, such as how local jurisdictions are being incentivized to comply with the policy and how residents can follow and become involved in its implementation.

It’s Time for California to Step Up for Public Transit: Here’s How to Help

California transit agencies are facing a $6 billion fiscal cliff. Millions of Californians rely on public transit for access to jobs and school — and the state’s climate, equity, health, and housing goals depend on it. We’re calling for a multiyear commitment to keep transit alive. Here’s what you can do to help.

Welcome to Our New 2023 SPUR Board Members

SPUR welcomes seven new members to its board of directors. These new appointees bring extensive knowledge in planning, economic justice, sustainability and resilience, good government, and housing. We look forward to their advisorship as we continue our work to make the Bay Area a place where everyone can thrive.

SPUR Sponsors Seven State Bills to Make Housing More Affordable

Housing continues to be scarce in the Bay Area and unobtainable for even many middle-income residents. SPUR is advocating for and sponsoring legislation that incentivizes and removes barriers to housing production. In addition, we are supporting a nearly $8 billion budget request for investments in affordable housing and funding for homelessness solutions.

Remembering J. Peter Winkelstein

J. Peter Winkelstein, longtime SPUR board member, talented architect, mentor, and friend to many, died on March 29 at age 94. His work for SPUR continued past his board tenure, as the chair of the new SPUR Urban Center Building Committee. He exemplified a well-lived life of public contribution, and we will all miss him.

New Findings on Shallow Groundwater Rise Highlight a Climate Risk Not Addressed by Policy

The Bay Area’s climate change adaptation strategies don’t reflect — and might even worsen — the impacts of coastal groundwater rise, which is expected to accelerate with sea level rise as the climate warms. New findings on groundwater rise point to multiple potential risks: degradation of underground infrastructure, movement of underground contaminants left by industrial activities, and an increase in liquefaction during earthquakes. The region’s coastal areas may need a new adaptation paradigm.