Council of Infill Builders: Demand Increasing for City-Centered, Walkable Neighborhoods in California's Central Valley

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New study takes a closer look at market preferences and demographic changes driving demand through 2050.

A Home for Everyone: San Joaquin Valley Housing Preferences and Opportunities to 2050
With only minor changes to zoning and development regulations, Valley cities and counties can redevelop low-density urban and suburban centers and commercial corridors and convert existing nonresidential buildings and vacant land.

The Council of Infill Builders released a new study of forecasted housing demand in the Central Valley through 2050. It shows that the Valley will need significantly more walkable homes in cities and towns to meet future demand. The new data come as governments in eight Valley counties are coordinating their land use and transportation policies and adapting to serve the region’s changing population and market forces.

The report, “A Home for Everyone: San Joaquin Valley Housing Preferences and Opportunities to 2050,” analyzes housing trends and consumer preference surveys and finds that continuing business-as-usual Valley land use policies will leave empty nesters and first-time renters and buyers underserved.

  •      The report found market demand driving the following trends:

Significant projected increases in demand for apartments, condos and townhomes.
Up to 45 percent of all new residential construction in the Valley between 2010 and 2050 will need to be “attached” homes, meaning apartments, condos and townhomes, to meet future demand (a finding first made by The Concord Group in a report for the Fresno Council of Governments.)

  •      Existing supply of large-lot homes appears sufficient to meet 2050 demand

Valley communities may already have about as many existing homes on larger lots (those over 6,000 square feet) in 2010 as they need by 2050. While these homes may have met previous demand, emerging markets appear to prefer different housing options.

  •      Demand for walkable, smaller-lot single family homes is strong and growing

Potentially all new single-family homes built to 2050 would need to be on small lots to meet projected market demand. For example, consumer preference surveys in Kern County indicate that up to 48 percent of the total supply of single-family homes would need to be on small lots (6,000 square feet or less) by 2050, while only five percent of the current supply in the Valley is on small lots.

Cities can accommodate the majority of this new growth on already-developed land. With only minor changes to zoning and development regulations, Valley cities and counties can redevelop low-density urban and suburban centers and commercial corridors and convert existing nonresidential buildings and vacant land. The result will be more efficient use of land and less farmland lost to development.

“We need to end sprawling development patterns in order to ease the financial burden on local governments and capture the next wave of housing demand,” said Council of Infill Builders board member David Mogavero, a Sacramento real estate developer and architect. “As this report reveals, walkable urban development will sustain its value for decades to come.”

“This study highlights forces of change, including economic and financial trends, rising energy prices, and new population dynamics, that will influence the future of the San Joaquin Valley,” said Patrick Kelly, Planning Manager at the City of Modesto. “The forces of change give rise to the importance of planning for future generations by expanding housing options and choices.”

“Coincidentally and through an entirely independent analysis, the City of Turlock concluded in its recently adopted general plan that only 55% of housing growth needs to be single-family, thereby correcting the overproduction of single-family units (83%) that occurred during the last housing boom,” said Debbie Whitmore, Deputy Director of Development Services for the City of Turlock. “By the end of the planning period, the city will have a market-based housing mix that provides more affordable housing opportunities to meet the needs of a growing and changing community.”

As the report warns, local leaders should act on the data and policy solutions or else risk missing opportunities to spur local economic development, reduce infrastructure costs, clean our air, and provide more convenient housing options.

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Eric Jaffe
Resource Media
(415) 397-5000 x311
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David Mogavero
Council of Infill Builders
916-443-1033
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