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Bay Area Continues To Grow - At Fringes

In a report detailing three decades of growth in the SF Bay Area, an urban think tank details how commercial growth has been disproportionately in the non-transit accessible suburban office parks. However, SF shares the blame. Solutions are offered.
March 2, 2009, 10am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"San Francisco lagged the region's suburbs in job growth over the last three decades, forcing increasing numbers of commuters to pack highways instead of public transportation even as the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions become increasingly evident, according to "Recentering Work: The Future of Transit-Oriented Jobs in Downtown San Francisco," released by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association."

"When we look at the last 30 years of Bay Area history, it's been a history of increasing commutes by cars, employment spread out and decentralized over a wider and wider area, and a decline of our central cities as a share of all jobs," said Egon Terplan, SPUR policy director and the report's principal author. "We cannot meet regional climate change goals unless we change that pattern."

"But some of the proposals (SPUR offers) are certain to spark controversy, as they directly conflict with recently adopted neighborhood plans and long-standing attitudes toward development in the city.

Most notably, the study suggested easing density and height restrictions in the core downtown area.

"SPUR is way wrong," said Calvin Welch, a longtime San Francisco affordable housing activist, who said developers haven't used the full office allocations."

The nine-county Bay Area doubled its employment since 1970, but San Francisco only accounted for around 4 percent of the growth, according to the SPUR study. In contrast, Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties captured 37 percent, 20 percent and 15 percent of the new jobs, respectively."

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Published on Sunday, March 1, 2009 in San Francisco Chronicle
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