The satirical newspaper, The Onion, reported that the City of San Francisco was looking to relocate…. A week or so later, Gabriel Metcalfe – head of the respected San Francisco urban planning organization SPUR – published a provocative piece in CityLab blaming the city’s affordability crisis on progressive politics – especially progressive politics of the no-growth kind. Progressive San Francisco, he argued, “had a fatal, Shakespearean flaw that would prove to be its undoing: It decided early on to be against new buildings. It decided that new development, except for publicly subsidized affordable housing, was not welcome.
But seriously, I would like to suggest Paso Robles as the new location. The new city of PR would be halfway between LA and the Bay Area; it has a perfect climate, buildable topography, coastal access, water infrastructure, and interesting geography. I hear the screams of ‘Nimby’s’ echoing across the hot springs, down through the wineries, olive trees, and orchards. To mitigate speculation and land price escalation we can identify the land we as a community do not want to lose, and make the rest available for development. By opening up significant areas, land costs reduce drastically. For example, the cost of land in Bay Area suburban Palo Alto is six times that of Paso Robles and rising.
Create a Green Space Checklist:
- wetlands and storm water retention buffers
- floodways and flood plains
- aquifer and recharge areas
- woodlands, and urban forests
- productive farmland
- significant wildlife habitats, and ecological corridors
- historic features
- moderate and steep slopes
- scenic views
Development can then proceed at a reduced cost as available land becomes plentiful, and land prices become affordable again to a growing middle class. The new city would be about 60 miles long by 40 miles wide. At 7,000 people per square mile, the population would be about 17 million. Home prices would start at around $100,000 for a pre-manufactured variety on small lots. 21st-century transportation design would get people around town in under an hour. The native urban forest of live oaks, and pines would be supplemented by drought tolerant plants from around the world, creating a diverse urban ecology. Recreational facilities would abound in a linear park network of 2,400 miles.
Of course, the supply of this new affordable sustainable housing would create its own demand. People from LA and the Bay Area would stream in, as well as people from around the world. As Americans move from the Northeast to the Sun Belt, 100 million people might need to be accommodated in the dry west, and southwest. Once we have turned our cities into gardens of ecological diversity there is no need to limit growth.
What then? The city of Paso Robles would have to relocate! I suggest Rosewood as the new location. The new city of Rosewood would be just west of Red Bluff; it has a perfect climate, buildable topography, mountain access, water infrastructure, and interesting geography…