An opinion published recently by the San Francisco Chronicle offers a provocative thought exercise: How did the Bay Area of 2070 achieve affordability, equity, sustainability and adaptation in the face of climate change, and new levels of prosperity?
Sarah Karlinsky, senior advisor at SPUR, pens an opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle [paywall] that lays out an ambitious vision for the San Francisco Bay Area. In a creative twist, Karlinsky imagines writing from the year 2070—when the Bay Area is thriving with sustainable transportation, affordable housing, and the demise of the systemic racism in the built environment.
According to Karlinsky's imagined future history, 2021 would prove a watershed moment for the Bay Area, emerging from the COVID pandemic with optimism but realizing that all was not well:
The process of change, according to Karlinsky, happened in 2022:
The events of this invented history include additional legislation that loosened zoning restrictions of housing in suburban locations. "Small apartment buildings, granny flats and affordable housing became the new suburban norm," according to Karlinsky.
Other reforms and innovations that helped changed the course of California's evolution include property tax reform, expanded funding mechanisms, a streamlined permitting system, electric buses, restored wetlands, all electric buildings, a second Transbay tube, freeway removal (removed in 2027), and a "green necklace" of parks around the Bay Area as a buffer from wildfires.
The first step is the hardest, explains Karlinsky, but it's possible. "We can live in a region that is affordable, sustainable, racially just and easy to get around. But to get there, we have to believe such a future is possible and insist that our elected leaders make that vision a reality."
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