Gabriel Metcalf, president and CEO of SPUR, is leaving the nonprofit urban think tank at the end of the year for a job in Australia.
Metcalf said in a letter to SPUR members that he will become CEO for Committee for Sydney, a city planning group in Australia’s largest metropolis.
Throughout his years at SPUR, Metcalf was a public advocate for building more housing to create a more equitable Bay Area and for investing in public transit to alleviate the gridlock that increasingly defines life in the region.
He joined San Francisco-based SPUR 21 years ago and has led it for 13 years. During that time, SPUR grew from four staff members to 40. It opened an Oakland office in 2015 and a San Jose office in 2012.
"The opportunity to be part of an organization whose purpose was to work on solving urban problems – while also celebrating city life – was so extraordinary that I couldn’t believe my good fortune to actually be getting paid to do it. That’s still how I feel," Metcalf wrote in the letter.
"This is a very personal decision for me, fulfilling a dream of living abroad with my wife and my two boys. It is a chance for us to go on a last adventure together before my older son goes off to college and to write a new chapter in the story of our family," wrote Metcalf. He couldn’t immediately be reached for additional comment.
SPUR has appointed a search committee to find a new CEO.
Previously known as the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, SPUR focuses on urban planning, economic development and transit issues. It publishes a monthly magazine called the Urbanist and an election ballot measure guide. The group’s roots date back to 1910.
SPUR’s board of directors include executives from some of the Bay Area’s most prominent businesses, including the San Francisco Giants, Oracle, Genentech and Tishman Speyer. It has an annual budget of $7.5 million.
Metcalf also co-founded the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, a housing advocacy group, and City CarShare. He is author of the 2015 book "Democratic by Design: How Carsharing, Co-ops, and Community Land Trusts are Reinventing America."
Metcalf previously worked for Bay Institute, a water policy group. He attended Antioch College and the University of California, Berkeley.