Too Little New Housing To Cost the Bay Area Tens of Thousands of Jobs

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The plan is premised on the idea that the region should produce enough new housing to accommodate all of the jobs its creates. But critics contend that it allows the Bay Area once again to fail in that requirement, with the result that more than 280,000 jobs that otherwise would have been created go elsewhere because workers won’t have a reasonable place to live.

An “initial vision scenario” published in March 2011 by the MTC Planning Committee and the ABAG Administrative Committee predicted the region would build more than 900,000 new homes from 2010 to 2035; Plan Bay Area predicts 660,000 new homes—or 22,000 units a year—more than a thousand units less annually than the region has produced since the 1980s.

As a result, the region will see its jobs base grow by 1.12 million, not the more than 1.4 million new jobs supported by the higher housing production. Groups including the Bay Area Council and economic development interests from the East Bay, North Bay and the Peninsula question the change. A spokeswoman for the Bay Area Council says they are monitoring the plan’s implementation.

The report predicts strong job growth in the early years, lesser growth in the later years. It says the region will inhale deeply in the first half of the three decades, pulling housing and people to infill locations, then in the later 15 years from 2025 to 2040, exhale as the same population ages.

The region’s attractiveness to the young—and relatively young—shows up in the current superabundance relative to the nation at large of residents aged 30 to 44, the Gen Xers, and of young adults aged 25 to 29, the echo boomers (also known as Generation Y). Conversely, the region is underrepresented among the nation’s oldest residents, aged 65 to 84, and those younger than 24

Over the last two decades, the Bay Area has proved a youth magnet, with people migrating to the region in their 20s staying for a decade or two, then leaving as they enter the peak home-buying and family-formation years, the report says.

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