Bay Area Planners Acknowledge the Need for Regional Housing Solutions

While most Bay Area communities are pursuing housing solutions "individually," local planners acknowledge the need for strategies that address the regional as a unified whole.

July 3, 2019, 8:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

San Francisco Bay Bridge

trekandshoot / Shutterstock

"Though each of the Bay Area's nine counties and 101 cities is experiencing the region's housing crisis differently, the message from local planners is unified and clear: the problem demands a regional solution," Emma Zehner writes for the Lincoln Institute. 

Discussing a meeting of eight Bay Area planning directors at this spring's annual APA conference, Zehner writes that as certain places (like San Francisco) add jobs at a breakneck pace, "other cities in the region are beginning to step up to create new regional job centers where housing is more readily available or where there is still the flexibility to add additional units."

San Jose, for instance, "has significant untapped housing potential as 94 percent of its residential land is currently zoned for detached single-family homes." At the same time, "San Jose faces a different type of imbalance: only nine percent of the city's land is devoted to employment uses." A new jobs center in San Jose could relieve pressure on San Francisco. So could locating more jobs in Oakland. 

The planners acknowledged that even as job centers grow, the housing issue also depends on transportation. "If we could get to and from job centers more efficiently, it could solve some very significant problems for us," said Al Savay, community and economic development director for San Carlos. 

Also discussed were ADU regulatory reform, inclusionary zoning, and potential for overarching state legislation.

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