SPUR’s COVID-19 Coverage and Response

Photo by Sergio Ruiz


UPDATED July 22,2020: SPUR’s policy work and recommendations in response to COVID-19 can now be found at our Rising Together initiative page. This page is no longer being updated.


SPUR is developing recommendations regarding the many policy issues arising in the Bay Area with the outbreak of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders.

Below are the resources, events, articles, and policy letters SPUR has produced so far.


Policy Proposals

Rising Together

Rising Together is SPUR’s coordinated policy and advocacy response to the COVID-19 pandemic, its economic fallout and the systemic racial inequities it has highlighted.



Bay Area COVID-19 Housing Resources

April 8, 2020

SPUR and partner groups have created a database of up-to-date information and resources about finding and staying in housing, planning, construction and more.



SPUR has transitioned its public programs to online webinars, many of them directly related to the pandemic. We are also posting recordings of these events.

Register for Upcoming Events

Find Recordings of Past Events



The Power of the Commons: Public Spaces Will Be Critical for San José’s COVID-19 Recovery

May 27, 2020

San José is one of five new cities to join Reimagining the Civic Commons, a national initiative advancing ambitious social, economic and environmental goals through revitalized and connected public spaces. SPUR is thrilled to be part of this project. We believe public spaces are critical infrastructure and will be essential for building a more resilient shared future as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.



We Need Consistent Practices Across the Region to Make Transit Safe

May 27, 2020

In the wake of COVID-19’s disastrous impact, Bay Area transit agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission need to make a commitment to public health in order for transit to recover. This commitment will be an evolving effort, and it must be coordinated across the region. SPUR recommends five things that can improve safety standards and help people feel comfortable riding transit.



A Stimulus Will Put People to Work Faster by Building Lots of Smaller, Cleaner Projects

May 26, 2020

Our state is in dire need of an infrastructure stimulus designed to put people back to work quickly. A traditional stimulus that funds huge, singular infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam won't cut it. Instead, we need thousands of smaller, distributed projects that will get people back to work immediately, train them in fast-growing jobs and generate a healthier, low-carbon future of California.



The First Success in Getting Back to Business Safely

May 21, 2020

Construction bans made the early days of shelter in place a confusing and frustrating time for those in development and construction. SPUR jumped into action, getting our members the information they needed and successfully advocating for a safe return to work.


COVID-19 Does Not Have to Be the Death of Transit

May 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a profound threat to the future of transit. It’s hard to speculate how the future will play out when the world today looks so different from the one we inhabited just two months ago. But one thing is certain: We will still need transit.

Sheltering in Place Reveals How Much Parking Dominates Our Cities — and Lives

April 27, 2020

Shelter in place has made it starkly evident just how much space cities allocate to cars and parking. The City of San José is currently considering changes to the amount of parking it requires of new development. All of this makes it a good time to unpack the many ways that parking impacts neighborhoods and quality of life.


Close Off Some Streets — for the Health of the Public

April 27, 2020

The mayors of the region should follow Oakland’s lead and close some streets to through traffic to create space for walking and biking. By making it safer for us to be outside in a socially distant way, “slow streets” help us combat another public health crisis: chronic diseases caused by inactivity. They also equalize the opportunity to be outside for communities that lack open space.

The Magic of Empty Streets

April 8, 2020

Writing in The New York Times, SPUR's Allison Arieff reflects on the opportunity COVID-19 presents to fix our cities.

This Crisis Is an Opportunity to Build a Stronger and More Affordable Region

April 8, 2020

The COVID pandemic has highlighted a fundamental truth: Housing insecurity is a threat to our society — both at the height of the market and during crises like this one. By understanding what caused Bay Area housing prices to escalate over the past decade, the region can make a course correction.

How Policymakers Can Keep Food Flowing and on the Table During This Pandemic

April 6, 2020

Only a couple of weeks into shelter-in-place orders, COVID-19's impact on the economy is crashing down on us. To keep food flowing and avoid historic levels of hunger, SPUR recommends 14 steps that policymakers at the local, state and federal level can, and should, take immediately.

Bail Out People and the Planet, but Don’t Bail Out Polluters

March 23, 2020

As part of the COVID-19 stimulus package, the Trump Administration is considering a multi-billion dollar bailout for Big Oil and Big Coal. Instead, Congress should use this stimulus to lay the foundations for shared economic prosperity founded in a clean and restorative economy.

The Best Response to COVID-19 Is to Exercise Our Collective Action Muscle

March 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us something extraordinarily important: We are part of a collective whole and our individual actions determine the health of that whole. This is an opportunity to develop our understanding of our interdependence and exercise our collective action muscle.

Physically Distant but Still Together: How Cities in the Bay Area and Beyond Will Survive the Coronavirus

March 18, 2020

Cities have a lot to learn from the COVID outbreak, and a lot to teach as well. The following are some lessons that we at SPUR are taking from the pandemic, which we hope will help guide future thinking and policymaking.


Policy Letters

SPUR Supports Emergency Funding for Transportation

May 14, 2020

SPUR joined Transportation 4 America and other transportation advocates around the country urging Congress to issue an emergency relief package including $32 billion for transit.

SPUR Weighs in on BART Budget and Service Cuts Resulting From COVID-19

May 13, 2020

SPUR urges BART to work with transit agencies and MTC to develop a coordinated response to service cuts and restoration, develop the capacities to respond rapidly to changing demand, and to pursue short-term and long-term cost savings outside of service cuts. Now, more than ever, the region’s many operators need to come together to design service cuts and restoration plans.


SPUR Urges Congress to Include Another $1.3 Billion for Transit Funding in Fourth Federal Rescue Package

May 12, 2020

SPUR urges Congress to: 1. Provide at least $1.3 billion to Bay Area transit for 18 months to enable states, regions, and local governments to help maintain our transit system and keep projects moving. 2. Provide a supplemental, large-scale transportation investment in the form of a Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act reauthorization. 3. Advance policies aimed at expediting transit and sustainable transportation project delivery.


SPUR Supports SB 822 to Make CalFresh More Accessible

May 11, 2020

SPUR supports SB 882, which would simplify the state's CalFresh food assistance application for many older adults and people with disabilities and would increase access to CalFresh during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would eliminate burdensome ongoing reporting requirements and would ensure all applicants can complete the application and interview processes by phone, rather than having to complete the process face-to-face with staff.

SPUR Calls for Clarification of Emergency Rule No. 9 and Its Impact on Housing Development

May 4, 2020

SPUR calls on Honorable Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and members of the Judicial Council to clarify that Emergency Rule No. 9 does not change the statutes of limitations for CEQA and land use claims. Unless it is amended, this rule will impose an indefinite hold on housing developments that are desperately needed to address California’s housing crisis – a crisis that is intensified by the COVID-19 emergency.

SPUR Supports Designating All Construction as "Essential"

May 1, 2020

SPUR joined the Bay Area Council, labor unions and housing organizations in calling for all construction, utilizing proper health and safety protocols, to be allowed to move forward as "essential" to our region's long-term health.

SPUR Urges California Congressional Delegation to Support Affordable Housing

May 1, 2020

SPUR joined NPH, All Home and more than 100 other organizations in calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the California Congressional Delegation to implement rental/debt relief for households unable to pay for housing as a result of COVID-19 and to designate affordable housing as essential infrastructure in any future stimulus packages.

SPUR Supports Allowing More Housing Construction to Proceed Under the New Shelter-In-Place Order

April 23, 2020

In coalition with local chambers of commerce, business associations, trades councils and housing advocates, SPUR signed onto a letter urging the seven Bay Area county public health officers to modify the next shelter-in-place order with regard to housing construction. The coalition advocated for allowing a wider range of projects to continue, noting that these projects often pay fees or dedicate land for affordable housing.

City of San José Amends Zoning Ordinance to Allow Tiny Homes on Wheels as Secondary Units

April 23, 2020

The San José City Council adopted a zoning ordinance amendment to make provisions for the use of portable dwelling units — also known as “tiny homes on wheels” — as accessory dwelling units. SPUR took a position of strong support.

SPUR Encourages MTC to Deploy COVID-19 Emergency Funding for Immediate and Long-Term Transit Needs

April 20, 2020

SPUR and the Bay Area Council encourage MTC to deploy the CARES Act emergency funds to meet immediate needs while creating the foundations of a more effective, efficient, equitable and resilient regional transit network.

SPUR Urges Congress to Include Transit Funding in Federal Rescue Packages

March 18, 2020

SPUR sent letters to Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris, and Congresswoman Pelosi, urging Congress to account for the revenue impacts to transit in rescue packages as part of the novel coronavirus response.