Northern California

Northern_California.png The high quality of life, cultural heritage, and environmental assets of the Northern California region make it an attractive - and expensive - place to live. How can sustainable land use strategies be employed while limiting the skyrocketing cost of living?

Principal Cities: Oakland, Reno, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco
Population 2010: 14,037,605
Percent U.S. Population: 5%
Population 2025: 16,350,872
Population 2050: 21,159,995
Projected Growth (2010 - 2050): 50.7% (7,122,390)
2005 GDP: $622,507,000,000
Percent of US GDP: 5%

Recent Entries

In the most recent edition of the San Francisco Urban Planning and Research Association's publication, The Urbanist, two articles strengthen the already solid case for high-speed rail in California. The articles were written initially for an America 2050 research seminar sponsored by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Regional Plan Association this spring. Not only can the state afford to fund the project, argues SPUR Regional Planning Director Egon Terplan in "Getting High-Speed Rail On Track," but two of the state's most influential industries - the Hollywood media and entertainment industry and Silicon Valley technology sector - would be knit more tightly than ever before by a high-speed rail system that would realize "the economic potential of enhanced access and exchange across the state," a benefit discussed detailed in Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf's "Hollywood Vs. Silicon Valley."

goldengatebridge_ship.jpgOn Friday, April 15th, the 2011 Northern California MegaRegion Summit will convene public officials and private industry leaders from around the Northern California megaregion, as well as other national and international experts, to discuss the state of the region's export economy and identify opportunities to improve long-term global competitiveness. Why is the export marketplace important to the megaregion's economy? Is Northern California exporting knowledge-based exports or commodities? Does the megaregion have the transportation and other infrastructure required to take important products to market? These questions and more will be tackled by the expert speakers and panelists at this year's Northern California MegaRegion Summit, "Competing Globally, Succeeding Locally."

More information after the jump or you can visit The Oakland Chamber of Commerce's website to download the program (PDF) or register for the event.
sac-valley-station.pngA new report by SPUR, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, focuses on high-speed rail's ability to encourage more compact land use in California around the 25 proposed stations. The authors emphasize that in order for high-speed rail to reach its maximum potential, the state and the 25 municipalities must support forward-thinking land-use planning and development programs that allow all of the benefits of HSR to be fully realized. The key is to catalyze private investment in areas surrounding the stations.

Download the full report.

In Sacramento, planning is well underway at Valley Station (above picture), an intermodal hub with connections to Amtrak, intercity buses, light rail, and eventually high-speed rail. The 240-acre station area is expected to become one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the country, featuring 12,000 housing units, office space for 19,000 jobs, a Railroad Museum and a thriving retail district, the report says.

"The alternative to high-speed rail isn't just the absence of a train," writes Egon Terplan, the Director of Regional Planning at SPUR. "It is more highways and new runways; congested roads and crowded skies. The cost of this piecemeal approach would likely be more than the high-speed rail system itself."
Since 2007, America 2050 has held megaregion forums in seven of America's eleven megaregions nation-wide. There forums were held as part of a "Rebuilding and Renewing America" campaign, which aimed to build support for the infrastructure investments we need to guide America toward a sustainable and prosperous future. The forums aimed to achieve three goals:
  • Build support around the country for an ambitious national infrastructure plan in the areas of  transportation, energy, and water.
  • Identify and prioritize the key infrastructure priorities in the megaregions, which can act as building blocks to a national plan.
  • Create megaregion coalitions to support these megaregion priorities and begin coordinating with each other.
Each megaregion prioritized slightly different issues and has followed up on the forum in varying degrees. To read about the megaregion forums and next steps, download the summary below. Also available is a PowerPoint presentation given by Petra Todorovich at the America 2050 national meeting, which also outlines common principles on federal policy that were emphasized in each of the megaregions.

Download the Summary of Megaregion Forums.

Download a PowerPoint about the Forums.

Download the Paper (1 MB)

By Chris Benner, University of California, Davis and Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California.

Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a growing regional equity movement has recognized the consequences of urban sprawl and regional causes of poverty and successfully built political power at the scale of metropolitan region. Now, with increasing attention to social and economic factors at the megaregion scale, this paper asks whether equity proponents must shift their attention outward and upward.

View photos from the most recent America 2050 Forum in Sacramento, California on December 2, 2008, featuring speakers Darrell Steinberg, Rep. Matsui, Rep. Blumenauer and Paul Rosenstiel.
California Senate President pro Tempore-Elect Darrell Steinberg will headline America 2050's regional infrastructure forum in Sacramento on December 2, 2008. Steinberg authored the groundbreaking new California law, SB-375, which provides incentives to regions who produce integrated land use and transportation plans to cut carbon emissions.

The forum, titled, "Investing in America's Competitiveness: An Infrastructure Strategy for the Nation and the Megaregion," will bring together 100 leaders from the business, civic, government, and academic communities in the Northern California megaregion to discuss a national and megaregional agenda for infrastructure investment that could shape the economic recovery plans of the Obama Administration and the new U.S. Congress in 2009.

The forum is hosted by a collaboration of Northern California civic and government organizations including the Bay Area Council, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), Sacramento Council of Governments, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the San Joaquin Council of Governments, in conjunction with New York's Regional Plan Association.  It will contribute to an ongoing effort to create a national infrastructure plan that could shape an economic stimulus bill and economic recovery plan next year.  Leaders from the Northern California business, civic, government, and academic communities are encouraged to attend and help define this emerging federal-megaregion agenda. 

Download the Agenda.

For more information, please contact Lauren Straub at the Bay Area Council at (415) 946-8727 or

"Gas is $4 a gallon and we still have congestion" said Jim Spering, Solano County Supervisor in California recognizing that clogged roadways and reduced productivity must be addressed at a much larger scale.  More than one hundred leading transportation experts from the Bay and Sacramento corridor gathered on Thursday, April 10th, to explore the possibility of coordinating transportation plans at the megaregion scale in an attempt to attract funding for projects.

In a parallel effort, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and Imperial Valley EDC received a $225,000 grant to spearhead a study that aims to develop a megaregion framework for global competition.  The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration awarded the grant, which will cover the two southern California counties and the Northern Baja California, Mexico region.

Click below for the articles:

'Mega-region touted for transit - TheReporter.Com

"EDCs Receive $225,000 Grant for Mega-Region Initiative - International Business Times