With sprawl proceeding largely unchecked in North California, residents who fled the city for more rural areas now find that urbanization has encroached their once sleepy communities.
"Fed up with the encroaching sprawl, Linda Jimenez fled Silicon Valley for Tracy in 1990 in search of more affordable housing and the small-town way of life of her Santa Clara County youth. Eventually, the sprawl caught up.
In 1990, Tracy, a friendly agricultural community separated from the Bay Area by the Altamont Pass, had fewer than 34,000 residents. Today, the mushrooming town, located at the western gateway to the Central Valley, has a population nearing 81,000.
The town sits as a symbol of the quest by working- and middle-class Bay Area residents to find housing they can afford - a pursuit that often draws them further from the traditional job centers in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
The result: A swath of residential and retail development that reaches toward the Sierra foothills, into the agricultural heartland of the Central Valley and south toward Salinas on land once reserved for ranching, farming and recreation.
The migration comes at costs to the environment: loss of natural habitat, increased greenhouse gases and a growing strain on the watershed."