Issue 489 February 2010
On the bright side: What's working at the SFMTA
While there are lessons both good and bad that other cities might draw from Muni and its parent organization, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, a few recent highlights may be most noteworthy.
A new paradigm for citywide health care
No other city or county in the nation has made and delivered on a promise of affordable health care for all.
An emphasis on placemaking and focused growth
The success of downtown San Francisco is one part accident and one part good planning.
A look at how our region developed over time
When viewed from space, the Bay Area looks like it got some of the big planning moves right. The Bay itself is ringed by development, clinging tightly to the shore in San Francisco and the East Bay. Urbanization spreads out from there. But the overwhelming impression is that the region is ringed by green. We got this first, big planning move right—and it didn't happen by accident. Far-sighted activists and planners worked over many decades to preserve open space through a combination of strategies: buying land and putting it into county parks districts and land trusts; zoning to preserve agricultural land; and establishing urban growth boundaries around cities. The emergence of what we now call the slow food movement is inextricably tied to the preservation of agricultural lands near to the urbanized parts of the Bay Area. And nothing contributes more to our quality of life than enjoying access to...
Taking action by taking space
In contrast to the traditional processes of official bureaucratic urbanization, there is an approach to urban processes that is characterized by temporary, participatory, flexible solutions that can adapt, evolve and change to meet a range of dynamic urban conditions.
Rebuilding after Loma Prieta
On October 17, 1989 was a dark moment for the city. And yet, out of this darkness, the possibility for change emerged.
How we support thriving neighborhood retail (and where we could do better)
Because almost all of the city's neighborhood retail districts developed along streetcar routes, today they retain the essential physical bones of commercial districts perfect for strolling, shopping and supporting the basic needs of neighborhood residents getting about on foot. This is the local flavor of neighborhood shopping that San Francisco is known for.
A look at San Francisco's model recycling policies
San Francisco's 72 percent waste diversion rate is the product of aggressive state and local policy, a fruitful public-private partnership, and a sustained investment in outreach and public engagement. Although we are setting the nation's leading example, there's still more we can do.
The sometimes spontaneous and sometimes ephemeral quality of unsanctioned public art interests me. As distinguished from government-sponsored initiatives, as well as territorial graffiti or vandalism, I set out to be more conscious of this art, created by and for the people living in San Francisco and the other locales I've visited around the Bay.