Want to Know Why the Bay Area Has a Housing Crisis? Read This Map.

The Bay Area is growing by leaps and bounds and will grow by another 2.1 million people by 2040. Housing production, however, has not kept up, and we have explosive housing prices as a result. To address the Bay Area’s housing needs, the region adopted housing goals for the 2015–2040 time period, with each city or town having a numerical target for housing production. The Bay Area as a whole needs to produce around 660,000 units between now and 2040 to keep up with population growth.

So how are we doing? While some jurisdictions are doing well, others, well, not so much, to put it mildly.

I represent San Francisco on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the regional Bay Area body responsible for transportation funding and planning. Each month, staff provides the Commission with a “map of the month,” with some piece of interesting data on transportation or housing. A few months ago, staff presented us with a map — embedded below — that is jaw-dropping in showing how poorly significant swaths of the Bay Area are doing in meeting housing goals to keep up with our exploding population.

The map shows what year each city or town, based on current housing activity and future projections, will meet its 2040 housing production goal:

(Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Commission)

As you can see, San Francisco and San Jose are on target to meet their goals by 2040 (give or take a year), and some towns will meet their goals well ahead of time, for example, Brentwood (2017), Milpitas (2029), San Bruno (2027), Antioch (2032), San Ramon (2034), and Vacaville (2037). Some towns will miss the 2040 deadline but not by an enormous amount; for example, San Mateo will hit its goal by 2053. Sadly, some cities will not hit their goals during our lifetime; for example, Oakland will hit its goal by 2174 and Fremont by 2143. Concord will hit its goal by 3217. San Rafael is projected to never meet its goal.

This state of affairs is unacceptable, and it’s unfair to the jurisdictions that are working hard to meet their goals. Housing is a regional problem, and no one city can solve its housing challenges in a vacuum. The region as a whole must act.

We need much stronger incentives for local communities to accept new housing, for example, establishing a stronger connection between transportation funding and housing production. The region can provide these incentives, and the State Legislature can provide even stronger incentives.

Yet, regardless of how we approach the problem, change is necessary. If we continue to make it incredibly hard, expensive, lengthy, and at times impossible to add housing, imagine what housing costs will look like with 2.1 million additional people, and imagine what our roads will look like as more and more people are forced into lengthy commutes since they simply can’t afford housing within the Bay Area.

We are at a crossroads in the Bay Area. Let’s make the right choices around housing and work together as a region to address our housing crisis.

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