California Steering Committee Member; San Francisco Director, SPUR
Adhi Nagraj joined SPUR in February 2018 as its San Francisco director. Prior to this, Adhi worked for BRIDGE Housing where, as a director of development, he financed nearly 1,800 units of affordable housing totaling about $800 million dollars in investments. These projects include 200 units of affordable housing at the San Leandro BART station and large development projects near BART stations at MacArthur, Fruitvale, El Cerrito, Balboa Park and Berkeley. Adhi also the chaired the Oakland Planning Commission for two years after being appointed by Governor Brown to serve on the Board of the California Housing Partnership Corporation, a statewide affordable housing finance and policy organization. He has also served on the SPUR Board of Directors.
After obtaining his undergraduate degree from Brown University, he went on to attend Columbia Law School. Upon his graduation from law school in 2004, Adhi moved to the San Francisco Bay area. He began as a lawyer working with the City Attorney’s office, defending Mayor Newsom’s issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He recalls: “What struck me about this time was that it was San Francisco at its best — unlike any city in the country.”
In 2006, Adhi was a project manager for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) when he came across a SPUR report Zoning For More Housing. “It was a great report detailing strategies to maximize the city’s untapped housing potential by rezoning underutilized land and increasing heights and densities along commercial corridors and major transit routes. I was struck by the thoughtfulness of this report, which married academic research with practical suggestions to operationalize the ideas. As someone who had worked on housing as a lawyer and developer, this article was an inspiring example how planning policy could be used to address some of our most profound social problems.” Adhi went on to join the Board of SPUR in 2011 and the Executive Board in 2016.
Adhi believes the most urgent problem affecting San Francisco is housing affordability: “We have not responded adequately to address the surge in housing demand — we are not building enough affordable housing, market rate housing or middle income housing. We need to create concrete plans to promote more housing in the city so the rate of rampant rent escalation lowers. We also have to support the city’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and find cost-efficient and quick ways to provide services, job training and housing to our growing homeless population.”
“We have underinvested in transit infrastructure,” he continues, “and need to advise policymakers on the most efficient and effective use of taxpayer funds and how we address large scale issues such as seismic safety, the emergence of driverless cars and the extension of transit lines. And finally, we need to ensure that our government is transparent and responding to the needs of everyday San Franciscans. We should be constantly looking for ways to improve the budget process, elections, proposition analysis and the other means by which we create and implement public policy.”
“There is no city in the world like San Francisco, and no advocacy group quite like SPUR,” Adhi says. “So for me this is the perfect platform upon which I will advocate to improve and make more welcoming our beautiful city."