Michael is an urbanist and public policy wonk who brought the idea for City Conversations from San Francisco, where he is co-Chair of the Advisory Council for San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR). SPUR is a non-profit, member-based organization promoting good government and good planning. SPUR hosts over 150 public events a year, including two to three lunchtime forums a week.
In San Francisco, Michael worked on removing the waterfront Embarcadero Freeway, creating two new mixed-use neighbourhoods south of Market St., and rebuilding the southern approach highway to the Golden Gate Bridge as a landscaped parkway. He was a member of the federal advisory commission for two national parks.