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Bay Area Burden

Examines costs and impacts of housing and transportation on Bay Area residents, their neighborhoods, and the environment.

Executive Summary

Bay area Burden provides a comprehensive analysis of the “cost of place” in nine counties located throughout the San Francisco region by examining the costs and impacts of housing and transportation on Bay Area residents, their neighborhoods, and the environment.

The Impacts of High Housing and Transportation costs

Bay Area households spend an average of more than $28,000 annually on housing—about 39 percent of the area median income. In addition to the high cost of housing, Bay Area households spend nearly $13,400 annually on transportation. Combined, this cost bur­den of $41,420 per year represents 59 percent of the median household income in the Bay Area. The high combined costs of housing and transportation leave many Bay Area households with insufficient remaining income to comfortably meet their ba­sic needs. This underscores the importance of broadening our understanding of housing affordability to consider the combined costs of housing and transportation, as well as the impacts of longer commutes on the environment and quality of life.

Importance of Location efficiency

This report exposes the complexity of the interaction of hous­ing and transportation choices as well as expenditures, and the unintended consequences on the natural environment when they work at cross purposes. The report also highlights the importance of “location efficiency" -- the proximity of housing to transportation hubs, employment and retail centers -- as a driver of both affordability and environmental sustainability.

Aligning Land Use, Housing and Transportation Policies

Land use decisions play a critical role in determining the avail­ability of housing that is affordable to Bay Area working families in locations that are near employment centers and transit. By strengthening the coordination of land use, housing, and trans­portation policies, Bay Area jurisdictions could create, preserve, and expand communities that are both environmentally sustain­able and affordable to Bay Area households.