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In-depth reports, white papers and policy recommendations

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Mending the Net

Fixing the holes in California’s social safety net

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown, California had the highest poverty rate in the nation. The state is also one of the worst at getting benefits to those who need them, with some programs missing over a million eligible people. Streamlining and automating the application process would help Californians receive the public support they have a right to.
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Keeping the Lights On

Addressing the rent crisis for small businesses, landlords and lenders

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders have thrown businesses — and especially small businesses — into survival mode. Are there ways to help businesses so that pandemic-induced failures don’t ripple through the real estate and lending industry? In collaboration with small business owners and advocates, this fall SPUR offers ideas for addressing the rent challenges for small businesses, landlords and bankers.
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A Regional Transit Coordinator for the Bay Area

Making our many transit systems work as one integrated regional network

The Bay Area’s two dozen different transit services would be easier for riders to use if they functioned like a single network. This type of coordination is complex, but that’s not why it hasn’t been done. The real reason is that it’s not anyone’s responsibility. In a new report, SPUR recommends establishing an institution that could coordinate transit operations across a cohesive regional network.
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Undue Burden

Reforming Bay Area sales taxes

Sales taxes are a common revenue-raising tool, but they also play a role in reinforcing structural inequality. Every consumer pays the same tax rate at the register, but low-income households pay a higher percentage of their income. In a new report, SPUR explores three options for instituting a low-income sales tax credit or supplement to help create a more equitable tax code.
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Value Driven

How pricing can encourage alternatives to driving alone and limit the costs that driving imposes on others

Roads and parking are expensive to build, but they’re mostly free for drivers to use as much as they’d like. This kind of free access imposes serious costs on others: traffic, climate change, air pollution, and heart and lung disease. SPUR’s new report Value Driven shines a light on the invisible costs of driving and offers five pioneering strategies to address them.
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More for Less

How to plan and deliver the Bay Area’s major transit projects in less time, for less money and with better public value

Around the world, building major transit projects is notoriously difficult. Yet the Bay Area has an especially poor track record: Major projects here take decades from start to finish, and our project costs rank among the highest in the world. SPUR offers policy proposals that will save time, save money and add up to a reliable, integrated and frequent network that works better for everyone.
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Infrastructure Bay Area

A proposal for a new institution to help successfully deliver the region’s most significant transit projects

SPUR’s report More for Less examines how the Bay Area can reverse its poor track record of delivering large, complex public transit projects on time, on budget and without major defect. This companion report details one of our most significant recommendations: to establish Infrastructure Bay Area, a specialized entity that would lead the procurement and delivery of all the region’s major transit projects.
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Does State Tax Policy Discourage Housing Production?

California’s housing crisis is due in part to a failure to build enough new housing. Many California cities view housing as less fiscally beneficial to build than other types of development. SPUR and California Forward explore whether cities that receive a low share of the state property tax would have an incentive to produce more housing if their share of the property tax was increased.
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Model Places

Envisioning a future Bay Area with room and opportunity for everyone

Over the next 50 years, the San Francisco Bay Area is expected to gain 4 million people and 2 million jobs. In a region where a crushing housing shortage already threatens quality of life, how can we welcome new residents and jobs without paving over green spaces or pushing out long-time community members? SPUR partnered with AECOM to envision an equitable and sustainable future region.
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The Future of Transportation

Harnessing private mobility services to support the public good

Will the rise of new mobility services like Uber and bike sharing help reduce car use, climate emissions and demand for parking? Or will they lead to greater inequality and yet more reliance on cars? SPUR proposes how private services can work together with public transportation to function as a seamless network and provide access for people of all incomes, races, ages and abilities.
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From Copenhagen to Tokyo

Learning from International Housing Delivery Systems

Different countries have vastly different ways of organizing their housing policies and real estate markets. Could some of them hold solutions to the Bay Area’s housing crisis? To find out, SPUR and AECOM explored housing delivery in Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Singapore. Each has a compelling and noteworthy approach that could inform future policy innovation in the Bay Area.
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SPUR 2020 Annual Report

Once a year, SPUR looks back on the accomplishments of the past 12 months. This time, it’s a bittersweet reflection. We’re exceedingly proud of all that we got done in 2019. But we know it’s a fraction of what will be needed going forward as Bay Area communities struggle to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and begin to address the systemic racism that has shaped the region.
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Keeping the Doors Open

Immediate recommendations for assisting ground floor businesses in reopening

COVID-19 has accelerated the urgency of determining how to best support human and economic activity, particularly on main streets and commercial corridors. SPUR recommends actions for cities to undertake immediately to assist businesses in opening promptly following the gradual lifting of shelter-in-place restrictions.
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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?
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Driving Change

Policies to expand on employer-based Mobility on Demand pilot programs and reduce drive-alone commuting in the Bay Area.

The Fair Value Commuting Demonstration project addresses a challenge that has plagued cities for decades: Too many people drive alone to work, creating traffic, wasting time and productivity, and degrading air quality and safety. Four Silicon Valley cities tested a package of strategies and technologies to tackle the issue. SPUR provided independent research to help assess the results and determine next steps.
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It Takes a Village

Strategies for successful implementation of San Jose’s urban village vision

San Jose’s 2040 general plan proposed “urban villages” as a key strategy for sustainable growth. These higher-density, mixed-use urban places would concentrate new offices, stores and housing in locations accessible by transit, foot or bike. But only a handful of the 60 designated urban villages have projects underway. SPUR recommends strategies to remove barriers and successfully implement San Jose’s urban village vision.
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SPUR 2019 Annual Report

Since 1910, SPUR has been facilitating a conversation about the future of cities. This year, with the launch of the SPUR Regional Strategy, we are starting a conversation about the Bay Area of 2070. Our annual report takes a look at everything we got done in the last year — and what we hope to make happen over the next 50.
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Solving the Bay Area’s Fare Policy Problem

How streamlined, integrated fares can help the region realize the promise of transit.

Each of the Bay Area’s transit operators sets its own policy for determining the fares it will charge. This creates customer confusion, inhibits people from using more than one transit service and undermines the investments the region is making in new infrastructure and technology. SPUR offers recommendations for how operators can streamline and integrate their fares to help the region realize the promise of transit.
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San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas

Working with nature to plan for sea level rise

As the climate continues to change, communities will need to adapt the San Francisco Bay shoreline to rising sea levels. But the Bay’s varied landscapes and overlapping jurisdictions make a coordinated response challenging. The San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas proposes a new regional planning framework by dividing the 400-mile Bay shoreline into 30 distinct geographic areas that share common physical characteristics and adaptation strategies.
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Re-Envisioning the Guadalupe River Park

How San Jose can transform its greatest natural resource into a community gathering place for all

From New York City’s High Line to Atlanta’s BeltLine, communities across the country are transforming underutilized infrastructure into engaging public spaces. Building on this national momentum, SPUR has launched a project to reconsider the Guadalupe River Park, an underappreciated gem in downtown San Jose.
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