Good Government

Our goal: Support local government.

SPUR's good government agenda:

• Put safety first.
• Invest in infrastructure.
• Support a strong civil service system.
• Get better at contracting.
• Experiment with labor-management partnerships and demonstration projects.
• Deliver services at the neighborhood scale.
• Make public data easier to access.

Read more from SPUR’s Agenda for Change
  • The SPUR Voter Guide

    The SPUR Voter Guide is the best resource for San Franciscans who want to understand the issues they will face in the voting booth. We focus on outcomes, not ideology, providing objective analysis on which measures will deliver real solutions.

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  • Good Government Awards

    The Good Government Awards honor outstanding managers working for the City and County of San Francisco, recognizing them for their leadership, vision and ability to make a difference in city government and in the community.

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  • SPUR Report

    Back in the Black

    San Jose has the highest median household income of any major city in the country, but years of budget cuts and staffing reductions have left the city in a precarious position. SPUR and Working Partnerships USA explore how San Jose can bolster its resources and deliver high-quality public services.

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  • SPUR Report

    A Big Fix for Capital Planning

    San Francisco’s aging public facilities harm the economy, limit they city’s ability to function and endanger public safety. SPUR proposes policy reforms for a more effective capital planning and maintenance process.

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  • SPUR Report

    Reforming Civil Service

    San Francisco’s employees and managers work within a system that often fails to take full advantage of their abilities or reward their contributions. The city can strengthen delivery of public services by restructuring practices for hiring, promotion, motivation and training.

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  • SPUR Report

    Fixing San Francisco’s Contracting Process

    San Francisco's contracting process is often time-consuming, inefficient and unpredictable. How can the city minimize waste and inefficiency while maintaining strong safeguards against favoritism and corruption?

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  • SPUR Report

    Setting Aside Differences

    Ballot measures that dedicate city revenues to specific purposes have become increasingly common in San Francisco. But these “set asides” can damage the democratic system and lock in choices long after they continue to make sense. Here's how to improve these measures by evaluating them before they become law.

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  • The Urbanist

    Taxing Waste, Not Work

    Environmental tax reform decreases taxes on labor or income while increasing taxes on waste and pollution. For San Francisco, a shift away from the payroll tax toward taxes on energy, solid waste or transportation could increase economic activity while reducing environmental harm.

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  • Find more of SPUR's good government research

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Updates and Events

Muni Reform Certified by San Francisco Department of Elections for November Ballot

News July 14, 2010
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh ] The San Francisco Department of Elections announced on Monday that the Fix Muni Now campaign had submitted enough voter signatures to qualify their Muni reform measure for the ballot. The Department of Elections conducted a random sample of 2,248 signatures of the total 74,933 submitted and, based on this statistical sampling, determined there were more than the 44,382 signatures required. The measure, if approved by voters in November, would require the Muni operators union, TWU-250A, to engage in direct negotiations for their wages and benefits, like every other public service union in San Francisco. Currently, operator wages and benefits are guaranteed in the City Charter to be, at a minimum, the second-highest in the country. TWU-250A is the only public service union in the city that has made no concessions during the recession of the past several years, opting instead to collect an automatic raise...

June 2010 Voter Guide

Voter Guide May 1, 2010
Includes SPUR's analysis of 5 city propositions on the June 2010 ballot.

A Balancing Act

Urbanist Article May 1, 2010
Controller Ben Rosenfield talks about economic booms, busts and their impact on the City budget

A Healthier San Francisco

Urbanist Article February 1, 2010
No other city or county in the nation has made and delivered on a promise of affordable health care for all.

Learning from Washington D.C.

News January 5, 2010
This past fall, a group of SPUR board members and staff traveled to Washington DC to learn from the urban-planning successes of our nation's capital; today, three members of that group presented their findings at a lunchtime forum. SPUR Deputy Director Sarah Karlinsky began the discussion with an overview of the Washington urban planning models from Pierre L'Enfant's plan of 1791 to and James McMillan's Plan of 1901 through modern-day endeavors to enliven the long-neglected Southeast waterfront area along the Anacostia. Regional Planning Director Egon Terplan expanded the geographical scope of the discussion, demonstrating with satellite photography areas in the region where forward-thinking transit-planning decisions brought about transit-oriented development along major corridors and high public transit use. Terplan focused on the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Virginia and Bethesda in Maryland , both tremendous successes in inducing dense development clustered around regional rail service. Finally, architect and urban historian Rod Freebairn-Smith showed...

Planning for the San Francisco Bay, Wayne Gretzky Style

News November 12, 2009
How fast do you have to be to outrun rising tides? According to Will Travis, of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission this is a challenge that the Bay Area faces. Travis informed and entertained a large crowd at a forum at the Urban Center this past Tuesday, covering a wide range of issues including environmental justice, adaption strategies, importance of tidal wetlands, and his thoughts for the future of the bay. Climate change poses a severe threat to the San Francisco Bay . Ocean water temperatures will continue to increase, sea levels will inevitably rise, and storms will become more violent. Decreases in the Sierra snowpack will mean less fresh water in the spring and summer months, allowing salt water to travel further up the delta than ever before. While his prognosis was certainly bleak, Travis offered a wide range of strategies aimed at combating these changes. Some of...

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