Reporter- San Francisco Business Times
A new report found that San Francisco is one of the least sprawling areas in the country — second after New York City — but could do even better at building more in-fill and affordable housing.
The report, released by Smart Growth America, a national organization that researches and advocates for better urban development, compared 221 metropolitan areas nationwide using U.S. Census tracts.
Researchers score sprawl based on four factors: residential and employment density; neighborhood mix of homes, jobs and services; strength of activity centers and downtowns; and accessibility of the street network.
“Today’s findings demonstrate the Bay Area’s progress in creating thriving, walkable neighborhoods and saving our treasured landscapes from sprawl,” said Matt Vander Sluis, regional director at Greenbelt Alliance, a land use advocacy group. “Yet over 300,000 acres in the Bay Area are still at risk of sprawl development — an area 10 times the size of San Francisco.”
The San Francisco metropolitan area, including San Mateo and Redwood City, ranked above other areas such as San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara at 24th, Oakland-Fremont-Hayward at 25th and Santa Rosa-Petaluma at 63rd.
Other notable rankings include Santa Cruz-Watsonville at 6th, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta at 4th and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale at 21st.
One goal of the report was to look at how sprawl affects quality of life. Not surprisingly, living in a more connected and compact urban area translates into healthier people who have to commute less and therefore are happier. According to TransForm, a statewide transportation advocacy group, estimates that Bay Area residents who live near transit save an average of $5,450 on average per household (it’s unclear if that is compared to driving or living farther out).
Blanca Torres covers East Bay real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.