Apparently, what we think of as the modern city first occurred in London in the mid-1800s. It was facilitated by increased industrial specialization, which itself began with the Industrial Revolution a century earlier. As urban development specialized, it brought together the necessary talent: architects, financiers, engineers, designers and builders. A key invention that triggered this was the mortgage which resulted in the commodification of housing. These were some of the contextual tidbits shared with us at our Regulatory Committee meeting last week by Gil Kelley, Director of Citywide Planning.
Mr. Kelley said the math we’re facing that has spurred his department’s intensified long-range planning efforts is daunting. The City is growing by 10,000 permanent residents annually and our jobs production is red-hot. We’ve already achieved 20 percent of the job growth anticipated by 2040. “This is not a bubble, it looks structural,” he said. He told us that new data indicate that 70,000 new residents arrive annually, however 60,000 of them do not stay and leave, though it’s not known from the data where they go. This indicates an annual “churn rate” of 60,000 temporary residents, something they’re scrambling to understand.
The key long-range planning challenges facing San Francisco are:
1. How to maintain an equitable, inclusive City
2. Access to the City and mobility for residents
3. Environmental resilience and sustainability
The five place-based challenges Planning is working on include:
1. The heart of SF – how to improve the urban core
2. Resilient SF – addressing inevitable sea-level rise, 3 feet in the next 100 years
3. Next generation SF – accommodating the rapid pace of change
4. City of neighborhoods – preserving what’s best of distinctive neighborhoods
5. Bridging the Bay – regional transit
Solving these challenges require “new models of interaction between the public and City agencies”. This probably explains Planning’s lack of appetite for new area plans. Our employment future requires that we preserve ample space for job production for the less-educated, called PDR. Mr. Kelley stated that the demand for PDR-zoned land is increasing, something not widely recognized.
Finally, he said that the City’s rapidly growing southeast sector will accommodate 75 percent of the new growth over the next 30 years, including 75,000 housing units and 150,000 new jobs. This would result in 200,000 to 300,000 new residents, effectively a new Oakland being built.
Image credit: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition