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Economy & Real Estate

Bay Area TOD 5-Calthorpe
The way that communities choose to grow impacts a wide range of economic indicators – household transportation costs, infrastructure costs, real estate prices and sales, even sales tax revenue. The information contained in this section includes reports and other resources that detail the various economic and real estate effects of smart growth and efficient transportation systems.



Quick Fact

Focusing new residential development in areas that are already close to jobs, services, and amenities, could save California taxpayers more than $194 billion in capital infrastructure costs by 2050. Vision California Statewide Scenarios Report, Calthorpe Associates, June 2010

Recent News

The Smart Math of Mixed-Use Development
By Joe Minicozzi
Many policy decisions seem to create incentives for businesses and property developers to expand just about anywhere, without regard for the types of buildings they are erecting. In this article, I argue that the best return on investment for the public coffers comes when smart and sustainable development occurs downtown. We’ll use the city of Asheville as an example. Asheville realizes an astounding +800 percent greater return on downtown mixed-use development projects on a per acre basis compared to when ground is broken near the city limits for a large single-use development like a Super Walmart.
Link to article


Publications and Tools

The New California Dream: How Demographic and Economic Trends May Shape the Housing Market
By Arthur C. Nelson, Published by the Urban Land Institute – December 2011
According to this new report, Californians’ housing preferences are changing rapidly—highlighting the need to revisit the long-term mix of available housing choices. Without modifications in planning assumptions, investments in public transit and reform of land use regulations, there is the potential that a dramatic mismatch will emerge between housing supply and demand over the next two decades.
Download Report

Growing Wealthier
By the Center for Clean Air Policy (Steve Winkelman and Chuck Kooshian) – January 2011
This report “considers ten commonsense principles that can help guide new development in ways that respond to emerging market demand and bolster the economy.” It provides examples from around the United States, as well as an annotated bibliography of evidence on smart growth, climate change, the economy, and sustainability.
Link to Growing Wealthier website
Download the report summary

Fact Sheet: SB 375 — Maximizing Economic Growth
Summer 2010
Download the fact sheet

Vision California: Charting Our Future
By Calthorpe Associates – June 2010
This analysis assesses the economic, energy, health, and land impacts of different ways to accommodate California’s expected growth. By measuring the impact of different growth scenarios, the report reinforces the fact that decisions we make now about how and where to build will have long-term consequences.
Download the summary and key findings
For more info, go to

Abogo – Assessing the True Cost of Your Neighborhood
Abogo is an online tool that shows you how transportation impacts the affordability and sustainability of where you live. Abogo measures the money an average household from your region living in your neighborhood would spend getting around, including car ownership, car use, and transit use. It also tells you what the CO2 generated by this car use would be.
Use Abogo to assess your neighborhood!

The Effect of Gasoline Prices on Household Location
By The Federal Reserve Board (Raven Molloy and Hui Shan) – June 2010
Gasoline prices influence where households decide to locate by changing the cost of commuting. This report finds that the substantial increase in gas prices since 2003 may have reduced demand for housing in areas far from employment centers.
Abstract Report
Download the full report

Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions
By U.S. EPA – January 2010
Across the country, many urban neighborhoods are experiencing dramatic transformations. Parking lots, underutilized commercial properties, and former industrial sites are being replaced with condos, apartments, and townhouses. This study concludes that a “fundamental shift” has begun in the real estate market as redevelopment of urban centers has continued to outpace construction in the outskirts of suburbia.
Download the report

Windfall for All: How Connected, Convenient Neighborhoods Can Protect Our Climate and Safeguard California’s Economy
By TransForm – November 2009
This report begins by looking at how compact, walkable, transit-accessible communities can save households billions of dollars in their combined transportation expenses, while also generating lower GHG emissions. It also has case studies showing what regions, cities, and developers have been doing across state and the country to reduce costs, attract jobs, and revitalize communities.
Download the Executive Summary
Download the full report

Removing the Roadblocks: How to Make Sustainable Development Happen Now
By UC Berkeley and UCLA Schools of Law – August 2009
This paper presents for the first time a comprehensive blueprint for how policy makers and industry leaders can make sustainable development more widespread and easier to build. It recommends a series of immediate and longer-term actions these leaders must take to remove the sustainable development roadblocks.
Download the report

Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities
By Joe Cortwright for CEOs for Cities – August 2009
This report explores the connection between home values and walkability and concludes that homes located in more walkable neighborhoods—those with a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance—command a price premium over otherwise similar homes in less walkable areas.
Download the report

Cost-Effective GHG Reductions through Smart Growth & Improved Transportation Choices: An economic case for strategic investment of cap-and-trade revenues
By the Center for Clean Air Policy (Steve Winkelman, Allison Bishins, and Chuck Kooshian)- June 2009
This CCAP study concludes that comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices could significantly reduce transportation emissions at a cost savings to society.
Download the study

The Jobs are Back in Town: Urban Smart Growth and Construction Employment
By Philip Mattera with Greg LeRoy – November 2003
This report provides evidence that smart growth is in many ways better than sprawl in creating employment for workers who build residential and commercial structures as well as transportation infrastructure.
Download the report


SB 375: Recommendations from Business Groups

SB 375 Impact Analysis Report June 2010
By the Urban Land Institute
This report finds that SB 375 will “help California meet the shifting market demand for housing, allocate public resources more efficiently, and ensure a better quality of life.”
Download the report
Download the report summary

California Association of Infill BuildersComment Letter on SB 375 to Air Resources Board
September 21, 2010
Download the comment letter

Silicon Valley Leadership Group – Comment Letter on SB 375 to Air Resources Board
September 22, 2010
Download the comment letter

Business and Community Leader Sign-on Letter on SB 375 – Comments to Air Resources Board
September 21, 2010
Download the sign-on letter


Links for More Info

California Infill Builders Association
Urban Land Institute – San Francisco
Urban Land Institute – Los Angeles
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Bay Area Council

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