San Francisco

Bridges to Smart Growth

San Francisco and the surrounding region faces the full range of climate-change impacts, dealing with sea level rise at its coastline and the danger of wildfires in its hills. A decade after California adopted the nation’s toughest greenhouse gas emissions-reduction goals, San Francisco is a model for local action in tackling climate change.

Economically, San Francisco is home to entrepreneurs dating back from the hectic days of the Gold Rush to the boom of the late 1990s and forward to today’s latest generation of biotech and social-media startups.

The nation’s 13th-most populous city, San Francisco is the second-most densely populated major city in the United States and its majority-minority community forms the cultural hub within the nation’s fifth-largest metropolitan region of nearly nine million residents.

In 2015, Walk Score ranked San Francisco as the second-most walkable city in the U.S. Also, a bike- and transit-friendly city, one-third of its residents use public transit to get to and from work each day – third overall in the country – and some 75,000 residents make their daily commute by bicycle.

Plan Bay Area 2040 provides a roadmap for accommodating population and job growth in the region by 2040. A burst of regional transportation investments is already taking shape, from the Transbay Transit Center – envisioned as the Grand Central Station of the West – and the city’s under-construction Central Subway to the newest regional light-rail extensions. The region is also planning a 550-mile network of express lanes by 2035 to increase highway efficiency by encouraging carpools and vanpools.

A crown jewel of environmental-friendly urban planning, the Bay Trail offers a 500-mile walking and cycling path around the entire San Francisco Bay running through 47 cities and across a broad spectrum of landscapes.

Facing a crisis of housing affordability like much of California and the nation, it is exploring strategies for creating more housing and working to end homelessness. San Francisco ranks third among American cities in median household income, but at the same time it perhaps has the highest number of homeless inhabitants per capita of any major U.S. city. A culturally and economically vibrant city, it is implementing innovative and practical strategies to address escalating housing costs and the accompanying displacement of long-time residents, revitalizing neighborhoods without pushing longtime residents out.