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San Francisco's Housing Craze: More People Fewer Cars

Something strange is taking place in the City by the Bay. It's not just experiencing a growth in carless households—carless households are actually replacing those with cars.
August 18, 2014, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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We've read that driving has been declining and that Americans are owning fewer cars, particularly among Millennials in major urban centers. Nowhere in the U.S. may this be more true than in San Francisco.

"Between 2000 and 2012, the city has seen a net increase of 11,139 households, and 88 percent of them have been car-free. That’s according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by Michael Rhodes, a transportation planner at Nelson\Nygaard and a former Streetsblog reporter," writes Aaron Bialick, editor of Streetsblog San Francisco.

This is not the result of an increase in housing without parking, though at least one, 12-unit apartment building planned without parking has been proposed in the Mission District as we noted two years ago (based on an article by Bialick). Rather, it's evidence that building housing without parking will attract households without cars.

The increase in carless households also results from existing households shedding cars, perhaps made possible by "expanded bike lanescar-share services, and improved taxi service (besides the new 'ride-share' apps like Uber and Lyft)," according to Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich. He also notes that "Muni, BART, and Caltrain ridership have also increased to record levels over the years."

And then there are the notorious tech buses and shuttles (that many San Franciscans love to blame for the city's gentrification) that enable car-free living.

The next change will hopefully be in the city's planning department, if they greenlight carless housing. 

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Published on Friday, August 15, 2014 in S.F. Streetsblog
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