As one response to our current economic challenges, the City Council is in the process of conducting study sessions to formulate a process to establish a Sustainable Economic Development Plan. The study sessions will continue until a plan is formalized and adopted. The Sustainable Economic Development Plan will include focus on stimulating revenues within the city. I believe that we must include regional issues as part of that plan. I would like to explore some of the regional issues at this time.
We, as civic leaders must look to and plan for job growth, increased population and supporting housing and infrastructure. By 2040, a little less than 30 years from now, the population of our nine-county region is expected to grow from 7.1 million to 9.3 million along with job growth from 3.4 million to 4.5 million and the need for housing units from 2.8 million to 3.4 million. Suffice it to say that all this growth is not expected to occur in San Mateo County alone but our County will participate in its proportionate share.
During the next 30 years of the projected population growth, the age demographics of the Bay Area are expected to change. The age group 0-24 years of age is expected to grow by 19%, 25-44 year olds will grow by 15 %, 45-64 year olds will grow a relatively flat 1% and the 65 and over group is expected to grow by an explosive 131%. Senior housing for our silver-haired population requires different needs than the under 45 year old group. Housing units will need to be in closer proximity to available medical care. The current project slated for the 15 acres site will address our senior housing needs.
Population growth includes an increasing number of school-age children and the need for additional classrooms and appropriate teachers. As Foster City will be fully built-out with the success of the 15-acre project, we will have to look at newer approaches to land redevelopment for business, housing, and education.
We need to strive to reduce our commute distance and time by having jobs and shopping closer to our housing areas with less dependence on transportation. We must strive for and be ever mindful of the “complete community” concept for new housing and jobs. Future housing in close proximity to employment centers will be critical.
Multi-family housing development projects in the nine-county region have been increasing over the past twenty years, from 25% in 1990, 44% in 2000, and 65% in 2010 and with higher building costs and higher densities, the trend toward multi-family projects will in all likelihood continue to be high.
Effective public transportation enhancements will be a key to job access and reduction in traffic congestion in the future. Only 44% of jobs in the Bay Area are within ½ mile of the regional transportation stations or ¼ mile from local bus stops. Conversely, 75% of jobs are within ½ mile of a highway off-ramp allowing driving access to the job a preferred choice over utilizing public transit. The current High-Speed Rail project that is expected to parallel El Camino Real should alleviate some of the North-South transportation woes. However, as the project unveils, we must not forget the East-West connections needed to access an improved transit system.
It should come as no surprise that the San Francisco Bay Area is currently one of the top “least affordable” housing markets in the country and the loss of redevelopment funding has put a “speed-bump” in the road to help fund affordable housing needs and requirements. Our Legislators in Sacramento are showing signs of “seeing the light” as to the need for affordable housing funding and are trying to craft new legislation to address those needs much to the chagrin of the Governor. Representatives from the League of California Cities are continually working with Sacramento on new “affordable housing” legislation.
Stimulating our economic condition involves more than just jobs. A thriving economy is based on the exchange of dollars for goods and services being stimulated by confidence that citizens have in their future. It is my sincerest desire that you bring your ideas to the public study sessions and be part of the solution in the development of our economic future.
I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-573-7359.
About this column: Council Corner features weekly opinion letters from rotating members of the City Council.
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