Introduction

Plan Bay Area, the Bay Area’s combined Sustainable Communities Strategy and Regional Transportation Plan (also referred to as the RTP/SCS), was jointly adopted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Executive Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in July 2013. The Plan is based on recognition of the critical connections between land use and transportation and creates an ambitious blueprint for a pattern of urban land use that increases infill development, reduces the pace of greenfield development, and brings jobs and housing closer to transit. A major goal is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light-duty trucks.

The Plan was adopted at a time when the region was just overcoming the effects of the Great Recession. Despite adopting the Plan, many questions remain—Can the region sustain growth while directing development away from green-fields and toward existing areas of urbanization? Will growth in the region be able to sustain all segments of the population, or will persistent poverty and the stress of high housing and travel costs stresses remain for a portion of the population? Given the means to make a choice, will the region’s family households with a range of incomes adopt new patterns of urban living in complete communities or will they head back to the suburbs as have earlier generations? Will the style of suburban growth become less vehicle- and more pedestrian-oriented?

This report examines the region’s new patterns of growth as the economy once again expands, the composition of the population continues to change, and the housing market responds to evolving needs and demands of households.

The report is divided into five sections. Section 1 gives a brief overview of how the region’s economy, population base and built environment have grown in recent years, covering the strong recovery of employment, changing demographics of the population, and key trends in housing. Section 2 describes the economy in more depth, focusing on the key sectors and locations of expanding growth and the implications for income distribution. Section 3 examines the pace of growth and changing age structure of the region’s population, as well as the effects of fluctuations in migration on the demographic base. Section 4 concentrates on the familiar dilemmas of the region’s housing market, describing both the economic and policy contexts in which the product types and locations of growth are transforming. Sections 2 to 4 illustrate how the new waves of growth are felt in different parts of the region, and the extent to which these growth patterns mirror city and regional expectations, and how these changes are felt by different segments of the population. Section 5 concludes the report with a summary of conditions, resources, and challenges that will affect future growth.