'Zoom Towns': Paradigm Shift or Age-Old Pattern?

In California, housing prices have shot up in resort areas like Lake Tahoe and Big Bear and in suburbs like Mountain House and Rancho Cucamonga. Are urbanities fleeing, or are young adults doing what young adults have always done?

2 minute read

February 2, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310


California and Nevada

South Lake Tahoe, pictured in April 2020. | DTM Media / Shutterstock

"Ever since cities locked down in order to reduce transmission of the coronavirus, debates have raged over the epidemiological implications of density and, less esoterically, over whether center cities remain can attractive when there’s nothing to do. While many in the state do not have the means to pick and choose exactly where they want to live, the combination of remote work and pandemic ennui has prompted untold numbers of well-off urban Californians to retreat to suburbs and to exurban 'Zoomtowns.'"

"Moreover, according to a recent report by AdvisorSmith, some of the most dramatic increases in rental rates in the nation are in California. Rancho Cucamonga (up 13%) ranks third, Murrieta (11%) ranks eighth, and Chino Hills ranks ninth, with Temecula, Bakersfield, and Fresno also in the top 25. And yet some of the most dramatic reductions in rental rates also are in California. The Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale rank 4-6, with declines of over 20% each. Eight other Bay Area cities fill out the other 19 spots."

"The much larger question is whether, after younger Californians especially spent so many years living it up in cities center cities, this trend reflects short-term concerns about the virus or long-term preferences. If only the former is true, then newly expensive suburbs and Zoomtowns may be in for a crash whenever urban life returns to normal."

Monday, January 25, 2021 in California Planning & Development Report

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Rail tracks on the left, rustic log-built train station painted reddish brown with a green metal roof and concrete platform on the right, evergreen forest and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background.

More Passenger Rail Coming to Montana

Planning is underway to restore a 45-year-defunct regional passenger rail line connecting southern Montana to Billings and Amtrak’s east-west Empire Builder line from Seattle to Chicago.

May 14, 2024 - 8KPAX

Apartment For Rent Sign

HUD Proposal Would Soften ‘One-Strike’ Policy

Formerly incarcerated people are often barred from publicly subsidized housing, putting them at higher risk for homelessness and recidivism.

2 hours ago - Truthout

Water flowing through Glendale Narrows section of Los Angeles River in Glendale, California with a concrete bridge, power lines, and hills in background.

Los Angeles County Making Progress in Stormwater Capture

During this “super year” of storms, L.A. County has successfully captured 96 billion gallons of stormwater which is enough to meet the needs of about 2.4 million people a year.

3 hours ago - Los Angeles Times

Aerial Texas Hill Country at sunset, with an aerial view of a highway interchange and Interstate 35 in Austin, Texas.

The True Cost of Texas Highways

An explainer of the monetary, environmental, and social costs of exuberant road building.

4 hours ago - KERA News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.