The Northern California Megaregion

It's time to start solving problems at the scale of the megaregion

Urbanist Article

The population of the United States is projected to grow by more than 45 percent in the next half-century. The total population today of more than 303 million will surpass 400 million before 2050. Unlike Europe and Japan, we face the question of where our growing population will go. In an era when people distrust government, dislike taxes and in many cases are opposed to growth itself, how will we provide the infrastructure to enable a continued high quality of life for a country that will be much larger than it is today?

Demographic trends suggest that America's growth will be clustered, virtually all of it going to 10 to 12 large "megaregions" of the country. Other parts of the country will actually lose population. This report looks at the idea of a megaregion in Northern California — one of the nation's most important and economically dynamic megaregions. In it, we explore:

  • The historic relationships that have defined the region.
  • Evidence of increasing Northern California integration.
  • Various approaches to defining the boundaries of our megaregion.
  • Planning strategies that become possible by using the new megaregion frame.

Gabriel Metcalf is SPUR’s executive director. Egon Terplan is SPUR's regional planning director.