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|Regional planners, long dismayed by environmentally destructive suburban sprawl, hope to turn a lot of the Bay Area into something more like San Francisco — walkable, BARTable and very energy efficient. But the “smart growth” renaissance — key to the state’s climate change goals — is facing stiff resistance from cities, and financial pressure from the cash-strapped California state government. Some experts say that on its current path, the plan is too unwieldy to reshape where and how we will live. This special report was produced in collaboration with the CAGE Lab at UC Berkeley’s Geography Department, Earth Island Journal and Bay Nature Magazine.|
Map: Where we live now — 2010 household density and priority development areas
Part of the challenge facing regional planners, who wrote the 30-year Plan Bay Area, is that it is hard to predict future population growth. The current list of more than 200 potential priority development areas in the plan tracks established high-density zones closely, indicating that the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other regional agencies want to fill in developments in areas that are already highly urbanized or near mass transit lines, instead of in undeveloped or underdeveloped suburban settings.
This map helps readers of the Public Press’s summer edition special project, Growing Smarter: Planning for a Bay Area of 9 Million, understand these trends.
Household density, shown here in shades of red, is a measure of the number of households (family units, not dwellings) in a given area. This map employs census block group data for a detailed representation of household density. (Most census block groups are not as large as a square mile.)
The priority development areas are shown in blue outline and transparency. These zones in the current draft of Plan Bay Area are strung along the region's traditional core, and follow long-established corridors of communication in the West Bay, South Bay and near-East Bay, and sprinkled amid and adjacent to the fast-growing suburbs of the far-East Bay. They also appear in the last underdeveloped bits of the Santa Clara Valley, as well as concentrated pockets in Solano County, where density is still low.
View the full-size map, which ran in the newspaper as a broadsheet page, 13.5 inches wide by 21 inches tall.