Exurban Sprawl Picking Up Where the Great Recession Left Off

Despite the environmental effects of exurban sprawl, Northern California's housing shortage is being alleviated on the extreme edges of the San Francisco Bay Area.

2 minute read

September 24, 2019, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Exurban Development

Albert Campbell / Shutterstock

J.K. Dineen reports on a trend that has picked up where it left off with the subprime mortgage crash during the Great recession:

Even in the midst of a climate crisis, the Bay Area’s skyrocketing housing costs are pushing families into far-flung suburbs like Tracy. And the American dream of a single-family home coupled with cities’ restrictions on building multifamily rentals and condos means “exurbs” continue to thrive despite state and local officials’ recognition that they exacerbate climate change.

The example of the development Tracy Hills, located in the city of Tracy located over 60 miles east of San Francisco and 20 miles east of Livermore, is cited to exemplify the resurgence of exurban developments in the Bay Area.

The majority of buyers at Tracy Hills are families who work in the East Bay or Silicon Valley, but are priced out of those communities, said John Palmer, development manager for master developer Integral Communities Homes. Prices for the planned community of 4,700 homes start around $500,000 and top out just above $700,000 — well below the $850,000 median price of a single-family home or condo in the nine-county Bay Area.

Meanwhile the entire city of Tracy stands as a testament to the growth patterns of recent decades, according to Dineen. The population of the city has grown from 18,500 in 1980 to over 90,000 today. The population is projected to rise to 125,000 by 2035.

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