The Urbanist

Selected articles from our magazine

Issue 575 Spring 2020

Rising Together

SPUR is hard at work developing policies to address the COVID-19 crisis

SPUR was founded over 100 years ago to help San Francisco rebuild after the 1906 earthquake. Now, as then, SPUR’s job is to help the region recover from a crisis and emerge more resilient, more sustainable, more equitable and more prosperous. We are calling this work Rising Together.

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

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. To do this effectively, there are practices we can put in place right now, even before we begin post-pandemic rebuilding.

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

Thanks to COVID-19, life in the Bay Area is very different than it was only a week ago. Our cities have a lot to learn from the current situation, 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.

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

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.

Safety First

Improving hazard resilience in the Bay Area

The Bay Area is both a treasured place and a hazardous environment where flooding, wildfires and earthquakes are common today. These hazards are likely to become more frequent, larger and more damaging as climate change puts the region’s people, built environment and natural habitats at risk. As a region exposed to multiple hazards, how can we manage for all of them at the same time?

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

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, and how that changed who can and can’t afford to live here, the region can make a course correction.
Issue 574 Winter 2020

When Transit, Biking, and Walking Win

A year filled with new bike and bus lanes, expanded and improved routes, and new transportation leadership around the Bay.

When the headlines are all about cost overruns and delays, it can be easy to forget that we do have transportation wins to celebrate. In 2019 the region accomplished many important, long-needed and exciting transportation projects and plans.

Act Locally (and Regionally): A New Leader for Muni

Last month, SPUR board member Jeffrey Tumlin stepped into a new role as director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The former director of strategy at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates had a brief stint as interim director of the Oakland Department of Transportation, but this is his first time managing a public agency. SPUR asked him some questions about the opportunities (and challenges) ahead.

Member Profile: Fay Darmawi

This affordable housing finance consultant started a film festival to help us understand cities through cinema.

Fay Darmawi, the founding producer of the San Francisco Urban Film Fest, celebrates cities through film and discusses the power films can have in conveying urban perspectives.
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We Are the Bay

As part of the SPUR Regional Strategy, we sent photographer Ryan Young out to meet his neighbors. Over the course of a week, Young traveled 2,000 miles north, south, east and west to capture images of residents in the Bay Area's many and varied communities.

Member Profile: John Rahaim

After 12 years (and 55,000 units of housing approved), San Francisco's planning director reflects on what comes next.

On the eve of his retirement, San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim reflects on his 12 years in the city by the bay,