SPUR Planning Policy Area


We Believe: Growth can be good and should be directed to areas
that will support equitable development and sustainability.

Our Goals

• Leverage growth to create great neighborhoods and public spaces.

• Protect and expand open space.

• Concentrate new jobs and housing in downtowns and near major transit hubs.

• Grow up, not out.

SPUR Report

Model Places

Over the next 50 years, the San Francisco Bay Area is expected to gain as many as 4 million people and 2 million jobs. In a region where a crushing housing shortage is already threatening quality of life, how can we welcome new residents and jobs without paving over green spaces or pushing out long-time community members?

SPUR Report

A Downtown for Everyone

Downtown Oakland is poised to take on a more important role in the region. But the future is not guaranteed. An economic boom could stall — or take off in a way that harms the city’s character, culture and diversity. How can downtown grow while providing benefits to all?

SPUR Report

The Future of Downtown San José

Downtown San José is the most walkable, transit-oriented place in the South Bay. But it needs more people. SPUR identifies six big ideas for achieving a more successful and active downtown.

SPUR Report

The Future of Downtown San Francisco

The movement of jobs to suburban office parks is as much of a threat to the environment as residential sprawl — if not a greater one. Our best strategy is to channel more job growth to existing centers, like transit-rich downtown San Francisco.

SPUR Report

Getting to Great Places

Silicon Valley, the most dynamic and innovative economic engine in the world, is not creating great urban places. Having grown around the automobile, the valley consists largely of lowslung office parks, surface parking and suburban tract homes. SPUR’s report Getting to Great Places diagnoses the impediments San José faces in creating excellent, walkable urban places and recommends changes in policy and practice that will help meet these goals.

SPUR Report

Secrets of San Francisco

Dozens of office buildings in San Francisco include privately owned public open spaces or “POPOS.” SPUR evaluates these spaces and lays out recommendations to improve existing POPOS and guide the development of new ones.

Updates and Events

Rethinking Revenue: Business Tax Reform in San Francisco in the Era of Remote Work

News /
The rise of remote work and other economic changes have exposed vulnerabilities in San Francisco’s business tax structure. The city’s controller and treasurer have studied potential tax reform recommendations for a possible November 2024 ballot measure. Their proposal aims to increase the city’s economic resilience, create more transparency for taxpayers, and help struggling small businesses.

Developing the Next Steps to Revitalize Downtown San José

News /
Ten years ago, SPUR offered six big ideas to make downtown San José a more welcoming, vibrant, and pedestrian-friendly space and to strengthen the city’s presence on the regional stage. Those ideas have currency today, as post-pandemic shifts affect foot traffic and activity downtown. This spring, SPUR convened a workshop focused on implementation priorities for the urban core’s revitalization and surfaced questions for future policy research.

Small and Mighty

Policy Brief
San Francisco’s small businesses face multiple challenges: a notoriously complex regulatory environment, rising costs, and a slow economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges are even more acute for small businesses in the downtown area, which has still not recovered its office and visitor customer base. SPUR’s new policy brief identifies seven interventions to support the small business sector in San Francisco.

SPUR Public Comment on Draft San Francisco Waterfront Coastal Flood Study

Advocacy Letter
The Draft Plan was released in late January by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in collaboration with the City of San Francisco, to build coastal flood defenses along the Port's 7.5-mile jurisdiction between Aquatic Park and Heron's Head Park. The Draft Flood Study's proposed adaptation strategies will lead the way for regional and statewide efforts on sea level rise adaptation over the next 50 to 100 years. SPUR, Save the Bay, and Greenbelt Alliance submitted a public comment letter with five recommendations regarding proposed actions around elevating the shoreline, mitigating contamination, addressing inland flooding from stormwater and groundwater, the use of bay fill, and nature-based solutions. Read the letter to learn more.

Planning by Ballot

SPUR has created the most up-to-date database of local land use ballot measures that impact housing production in California. Many of the 208 measures we identified curb urban sprawl and protect open space. But others undermine infill housing production in urbanized areas. Over the long term, measures that restrict infill housing can undermine housing affordability and have the potential to exacerbate racial segregation.

Building Blocks Toward 20-Minute Neighborhoods

Policy Brief
As a companion to our brief The 15-Minute Neighborhood, SPUR collaborated with SOM to develop a case study of San José’s Alum Rock neighborhood, exploring its potential to become a “20-minute neighborhood,” where residents can access many essential services and amenities just a short walk or bike ride from home. The case study draws upon work by San José State University’s urban planning studio and was supported by recommendations from local leaders and community-based organizations.