SPUR Research

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Making Roads Work for Transit

Strategies to accelerate Bay Area transit priority treatments

Currently, transit delays and unreliability can make riding the bus a nonstarter for those who have other options for getting around. Growing segregation of the transit system is inequitable, unsustainable, and inefficient. Giving transit vehicles priority on Bay Area roads can deliver the speed and reliability improvements needed to get more people on buses and out of cars. SPUR offers 16 recommendations for aligning the interests of transit agencies and local jurisdictions to greenlight these improvements.
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Making Al Fresco Work

Leveraging San José’s temporary outdoor dining initiative to enliven neighborhoods and create economic stability

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of San José’s outdoor dining initiative extended a critical lifeline to businesses and their patrons. The program continues to be a popular way to advance economic recovery and enliven streets. SPUR recommends four strategies for improving upon the Al Fresco Initiative and expanding it to businesses and neighborhoods citywide.
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The Future of Coleman Avenue

How central San José’s corridor can achieve its potential

Coleman Avenue sits at the intersection of several plans for San Jose’s growth. Located near downtown, the airport, and Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, it will be critical to their future success. SPUR and JLP+D present a community-informed evaluation of the Coleman Avenue corridor and make the case that developing a strategic plan for the area will be critical to leveraging it as a key connector and gateway for the city.
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Losing Ground

What the Bay Area’s housing crisis means for middle-income households and racial inequality

SPUR’s new research paper, Losing Ground: What the Bay Area’s Housing Crisis Means for Middle-Income Households and Racial Inequality , aims to identify how the Bay Area’s housing market has become shaped by scarcity and wide economic divides not only among income groups but also among races and ethnicities.
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The High Cost of Traffic Stops

An analysis of traffic stops in seven jurisdictions across California

California has some of the most expensive traffic citations in the country, with California drivers paying billions of dollars in fines and fees every year. The high cost of these citations puts a significant burden on lower income people, as they are less able to pay the hundreds or thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses that can arise from a traffic stop. In order to understand the impact of traffic stops and citations on people in California, SPUR analyzed traffic stop data in seven locations across the state.
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Gas Appliances and Smog: California's Hidden Air Pollution Problem

How state and regional air agencies can end appliance pollution in California with zero emissions standards and complimentary policies

Gas appliances in California homes and buildings generate four times as much lung-damaging nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution as the state's gas power plants, and roughly two thirds as much NOx as all of the state’s passenger cars. To meet federal air quality standards that protect health, air quality regulators in California must phase out the sale of gas appliances and implement equity-centered implementation plans for transitioning homes to electric alternatives like heat pumps – which produce no onsite air pollution.
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The State of Good Food Purchasing in 2022

What’s working and what isn’t in public food purchasing

Bay Area schools, jails and hospitals are working to align their spending with the five core values of the Good Food Purchasing Program, procuring food that is local, sustainable, fair, humane and healthy. SPUR and The Center for Good Food Purchasing identify seven strategies to support institutions in aligning supply and demand to build a more resilient, sustainable and equitable regional food system and share a regional data dashboard to track progress.
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The ABCs of JPAs

California’s new tool for creating middle-income housing

With housing prices out of reach for many, California is facing the need to find new ways to create housing affordable to middle-income households. A promising new model — joint powers authority (JPA) owned middle-income housing — uses tax incentives to close the gap between development costs and affordable rents. This brief by SPUR and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation explains how the JPA model works, how it’s being used and how to ensure that it delivers meaningful public benefits.
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Setting California’s Clean Appliance Timeline

Why we need to transition to zero-emission home appliances much sooner than we think

California has set out to be carbon-neutral by 2045. To help meet this goal, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has proposed deadlines for ending the sale of gas furnaces, boilers and water heaters — but are they soon enough? SPUR’s research found that the proposed dates would transition roughly 90% of households to electric appliances by 2045 . But to fully meet its climate goals, California will need to pair new sales standards with substantial incentives.
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Watershed Moments

Case studies in water management for California's changing climate

Climate scientists predict that California will experience longer, more frequent droughts as the climate warms. How can the Bay Area better manage the limited water it has? SPUR, Greenbelt Alliance and Pacific Institute teamed up to highlight six Northern California leaders who are pioneering more sustainable approaches to water use.
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Accelerating Sustainable Transportation in California

An analysis of Senate Bill 288 and recommendations to extend and improve the law

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate pollution, California will need to build out the infrastructure to make walking, biking and riding transit the default ways to get around. Senate Bill 288, which expires this year, makes it faster to build commonsense sustainable transportation projects. SPUR recommends that the state extend and improve the law by passing SB 922. This brief provides background on SB 288 and describes the impact of the law, including case studies on projects built since it was passed.
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The Bay Area Parking Census

How much parking the region has, why it’s too much and what to do about it

For decades, parking in the Bay Area has been both ubiquitous and uncounted. Now SPUR and the Mineta Transportation Institute have produced the San Francisco Bay Area Parking Census, the most detailed assessment of parking infrastructure ever produced for the region. The census helps fill data gaps about parking to inform policy reforms and will help policymakers make better decisions for the future of Bay Area cities.
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Burdens and Benefits

Investigating Prop. 13’s unequal impacts in Oakland

California’s Proposition 13 is one of the most studied property taxes in the country, but how does it affect the lives of residents in Bay Area cities? SPUR’s research brief Burdens and Benefits explores how the law impacts homeowners in Oakland, with a look at who receives the largest benefits from the state’s unique property tax law and who shoulders the burdens from its constraints on revenues.
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Temporary to Transformative

Leveraging San Francisco’s pandemic programs to usher in a new era for the city’s streets

During the COVID-19 pandemic, cities across the country piloted shared public spaces and slow streets. In a matter of weeks, these temporary changes transformed city streets in ways that would otherwise have taken years. The crisis injected the planning process with a sense of urgency and a willingness to experiment. How can San Francisco and other cities make these changes permanent? SPUR's new report captures lessons learned and offers 18 recommendations for how to build on what's been started.
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Making Government Work

10 ways city governance can adapt to meet the needs of Oaklanders

Many of the challenges Oakland faces are worsened by its unusual government structure, which makes it harder for the mayor, city council and other officials to do their jobs well. SPUR’s latest report diagnoses the problem and offers 10 recommendations for how the city can adapt its governance structure to better serve Oaklanders.
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Bridging the Gap

Addressing the inequitable impacts of bridge toll fines and fees on Bay Area drivers

The Bay Area’s current system for collecting unpaid bridge tolls hurts hundreds of thousands of people across the region . This system disproportionately harms lower-income and working people by relying on punitive tools like fines, fees and car registration holds to promote toll payment. SPUR recommends steps to reduce the harms caused by the unpaid tolls system and begin to move toward an equitable tolling system.
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Integrating Food Into Healthcare

A landscape analysis of medically supportive food and nutrition interventions in California

California is in the midst of overhauling its Medicaid program to better serve the 12 million low-income residents who rely on it for health care. This report explores the state’s capacity to provide one key aspect of the plan: medically supportive food and nutrition interventions such as food pharmacies, produce prescriptions, healthy groceries and medically tailored meals designed to prevent, reverse and treat chronic health conditions.
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Water for a Growing Bay Area

How the region can grow without increasing water demand

The Bay Area is projected to add 2 million jobs and as many as 6.8 million people in the next 50 years. But can we add more jobs and build more housing without using more water? New research from SPUR and the Pacific Institute says yes. We can use the same amount of water — or even less — if we invest in efficiency measures, pursue compact land use and commit to better mechanisms to share water regionally.
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Guadalupe River Park: A Shared Future in Downtown San José

Economic analysis, equitable reinvestment and governance opportunities

As downtown San José expands to the west, Guadalupe River Park is poised to become the center of downtown, and its health will become fundamental to the city’s success. Renewed support, enhanced stewardship and a sustainable funding stream will be needed to realize the park’s potential, so that this vital public space can become safer, cleaner and better used by all members of the community.
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The Bigger Picture: Nine Ideas for a Connected San Francisco

How better transportation can link San Francisco neighborhoods to each other and the region

Today San Francisco’s regional transit connections focus primarily on bringing commuters from the rest of the Bay Area into downtown. Many neighborhoods have poor access to regional transit service — and to each other. The fourth report in our Bigger Picture series proposes coordinated investments in San Francisco transportation that, together, could dramatically improve transportation access and connections to the region.
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