A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

Staff Profile: Lawrence Li, 15-Year Spurrito

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 Strategy and Operations Director Lawrence Li, who keeps the SPUR Urban Center in San Francisco — and our remote work across the Bay Area — humming seamlessly despite global pandemics and other unforeseen disruptions.

What’s Next for Guadalupe River Park and San José?

Since 2018, one of SPUR’s top priorities has been research and planning for San José's Guadalupe River Park. The initial phase of this work culminated in January with a virtual exhibition. We are now excited to announce our plans to move forward with policy ideas for the river park and other areas in and around downtown San José, supported by essential funding from the Knight Foundation.

Proposed Ballot Measure Takes Aim at San Francisco’s Housing Shortage

One of the root causes of San Francisco’s high housing costs is the city’s ongoing failure to build enough housing, a problem that’s been compounding for decades. A measure that SPUR and others are proposing for San Francisco’s November ballot would take two approaches to building more affordable housing: streamlining the permitting process and deepening the bench of construction workers.

With a New Policy for Growth Near Transit, MTC Can Center Equity and Sustainability

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has put forth a promising proposal for a new regional transit-oriented communities policy that would support new housing at all income levels, new jobs, sustainable access to transit, and protection from displacement in transit-rich areas. In crafting the final policy, MTC’s commissioners must not only maintain the ambition of the current proposal but leverage the agency’s funding authority to ensure that the policy is implemented.

Supporting San José Through the Pandemic — and Beyond

During the early days of COVID-19, San José's Al Fresco program closed some streets and opened parking lots to allow businesses to operate outside. SPUR advocated for the program, and we believe it’s worth extending beyond the pandemic. We’re pleased to announce that, through investment made by the Knight Foundation, we will continue to support the development of an ongoing Al Fresco program that's feasible in public and private outdoor spaces.

Staff Profile: Noah Christman, 11-year Spurrito

This year, SPUR is celebrating staff members — a.k.a. “Spurritos”— who have served the organization for 10 years or more. First up is a face that will be familiar to anyone who attends our Digital Discourse events. Public Programming Director Noah Christman started at SPUR as a programming intern in February 2011. Since then, he has spearheaded more than 1,800 programs and 37 exhibitions.

Governor’s Proposed Budget Includes Focus on Housing as a Climate Strategy

For the second year in a row, California will have a sizable budget surplus — and a host of critical needs to be funded. Governor Newsom’s proposed budget spending plan continues to include significant investments in affordable housing and solutions to homelessness. SPUR is especially pleased to see a strategy that makes an explicit link between locating housing in urban areas and reducing climate change, a key idea in our Civic Vision for Growth.

SPUR and Others to Pilot New Technology for Making Healthy Food More Affordable

California has reached a milestone in its effort to make healthy, California-grown food more affordable for low-income residents. The California Department of Social Services has awarded contracts to SPUR and two other nonprofits for pilot projects that will test new technology for providing healthy food incentives.

Can San Francisco Schools Help Drive Demand for Fair, Healthy, Sustainable Food?

Every year the San Francisco Unified School District spends more than $12 million on food — a significant opportunity to drive demand for food that positively impacts people, the planet and animals. In 2016, the district adopted the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which sets standards for fair, healthy and sustainable food. The district has now met requirements in four of the five categories, setting a solid example for other institutions to follow.

Op-Ed: Health Care Plans Must Embrace Food- and Nutrition-Based Medical Interventions

From the SF Examiner: At the end of 2021, California received permission to pilot new approaches to providing healthcare for those who rely on Medi-Cal. The onus is now on local health plans to implement pilot strategies. One option they should consider is medically supportive food and nutrition. Recent SPUR research makes a strong case for these interventions, which include produce prescriptions, food pharmacies, healthy groceries and medically tailored meals.