Issue 561 to
The Year in Urbanism
This year California opposed the federal government on immigration, climate change and human rights, among other issues. As the country’s electorate continues to polarize, we are entering a phase of American history in which the limits of federalism will be tested. California, as one of the “bluest” states in the union, pushed those limits the furthest in 2017.
A record 15 housing related bill package was signed into law in 2017 with the goal of helping to curb the housing crisis. The package won’t solve California’s housing crisis, but it does set in motion a much-needed shift away from deference to local discretion over the housing approval process and will enable thousands of additional households to win the subsidized housing lottery.
Plans for Google to develop almost 8 million square feet of office space near Diridon Station coincide with a massive growth spurt in the city. If a significant amount of new jobs are concentrated in the station area, Diridon can become a major economic engine for San Jose and the South Bay.
6,675 residential housing units are under construction — a huge jump from the 765 that were built in 2014. This represents the biggest residential building boom in Oakland since the post-World War II era and is a dramatic turnaround for a city that saw a modest population decline in the first decade of this century.
After years of record drought and a winter of record rainfall, we saw a summer of record wildfires — as well as alarm over what certainly feels like impending planetary chaos. The California we once knew no longer exists, and our new climate change reality demands unprecedented action at breakneck speeds.
SB 1 raises more than $5 billion per year in perpetuity, equivalent to a 45 percent increase over current funding. The bill seems poised to address the $59 billion backlog of road and highway repairs and represents an important step in an era of dwindling federal support for such projects.
Over the last few years, the incomes of those moving into the Bay Area have risen faster than Bay Area wages, suggesting that the deterrence of potential newcomers is occurring at higher income levels than before. Similarly, the concurrent rise in the income of those moving out suggests that the ranks of people “crowded out” have swelled to include higher earners than ever before.