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San Francisco Ain't No Dublin

When it comes to planning for population growth, we have a lot to learn.

The State of California released its annual regional population estimates yesterday, confirming that San Francisco, and the whole Bay Area, has grown at a rapid pace in the last year. Unfortunately, our construction of new housing hasn't matched that rate of growth.

According to the state's data, San Francisco grew by 10,600 residents in the last year, a 1.3% increase. Overall, the state added 356,000 new residents in the same time period, an increase of just under one percent.

San Francisco wasn't the fastest-growing city in the Bay Area, however. Both Santa Clara and Alameda Counties grew by a larger rate. The two fastest growing cities, McFarland and Chowchilla, topped the list thanks to rises in their prison population. But the third-fastest growing city was the East Bay's Dublin, which added 7.1% in the last year. (Dublin has been embarked on a series of transit-oriented developments near its BART station over the last few years.)

Perhaps the most interesting component of the data is how it shows how San Francisco's supply of housing has failed to keep up with the increase in demand. While San Jose added 3,578 units in the last year, over the same period of time, developers here added only 2,377 new units. The United States average number of person per household is 2.61—meaning that to keep even with its population growth, San Francisco would have had to have added 4,061 units. (And that's just the break-even point.)

Another way to cut the housing data: The state as a whole added 59,000 new housing units. As a function of the total population growth, that's 0.16 new units per new person. To keep up with that pace, San Francisco would have needed to build 1,756 new units—so at least we're ahead of the state as a whole, even if not added as much as we might need to.

Or, for another depressing way to look at it: San Francisco added exactly 24 new single family homes in the last year

 

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