The Bay Area housing market has clearly rebounded from the Great Recession, as reflected by the nearly 20,000 permits issued in 2015. Still, permit levels remain 26 percent lower than just one decade ago and well below the peaks of the 1970s and 1980s. Over the long term, much of this decline is attributable to slowing development patterns in Contra Costa and Alameda counties – as the region’s mid- and late-20th century suburban communities were built out. North Bay counties saw similar slowdown in units permitted. In Sonoma County, for example, the total number of units permitted has dwindled as single-family residential development declined in Santa Rosa.
Unlike the East Bay, Santa Clara County has increased its already-robust permitting for new housing units in recent years. It has shifted from single-family housing development in the 20th century to multi-family developments in San Jose and nearby cities in early 21st century. At the same time, San Francisco County, which historically permitted among the lowest number units in the region, is permitting a greater share of the Bay Area’s units than any year on record. This high rate of permitting reflects increased housing demand in the region’s primary urban center.