The estimated population of San Francisco proper has inched up from 880,400 in July of 2017 to 884,000 as of January 1, 2018, according to the latest data from California’s Department of Finance.

As such, San Francisco’s population increased by roughly 10,000 (1.14 percent) in 2017, with 64 percent of the growth occurring in the first half of the year and a total annual growth rate of 1.14 percent (versus an average annual rate of around 1.3 percent since 2010 and having peaked at 1.6 percent from 2011 to 2012).

Across the greater Bay Area, the estimated population grew by 0.76 percent (58,800) in 2017 to 7,772,600, with Santa Clara County leading the way in terms of growth in the absolute (up 19,100 to 1,956,600), followed by Alameda County (up 13,800 to 1,660,200) and the populations in Sonoma and Napa having slipped post-wildfires, as we’ve tabled below:

January 1, 2017 January 1, 2018 YoY Growth Rate
Alameda 1,646,405 1,660,202 13,797 0.84%
Contra Costa 1,139,313 1,149,363 10,050 0.88%
Marin 263,262 263,886 624 0.24%
Napa 141,784 141,294 -490 -0.35%
San Francisco 874,008 883,963 9,955 1.14%
San Mateo 770,256 774,155 3,899 0.51%
Santa Clara 1,937,473 1,956,598 19,125 0.99%
Solano 436,640 439,793 3,153 0.72%
Sonoma 504,613 503,332 -1,281 -0.25%
Total 7,713,754 7,772,586 58,832 0.76%
94 thoughts on “SF Population Ticks Up to 884,000; Bay Area Nearing 7.8 Million Mark”
    1. It would be interesting to know what the average population size is in San Francisco. The numbers you’re quoting are only a problem if one assumes that the new folk are all singles and pairs, and aren’t families.

      1. I think you mean average dwelling size.

        I’ve read a lot about how young families just starting to have kids will tolerate urban life for longer. I always wondered how much of that theory is based on anecdotal evidence vs. hard facts. For instance, if a good chunk of that population growth is natural newborns, the discrepancy between population growth and new units appears less scary.

        On the flip side, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many smaller units are being taken off the market or shrunk in size to create au pair suites, which remain vacant on the books.

        1. I’m more familier with the Census number than CDF, but for the Census from a total population growth of 8,260 the natural increase was 2,733. But that natural increase was 9,033 births minus 6,300 deaths.

          And as you point out, newborns do not generally consume as much RE space as full grown adults. And as a quirk of our Prop 13/Rent Control system, I also think it’s a fair assumption that older people tend to over-consume RE. (And generally, people who unfortunately pass away tend to be older)

        2. It’s both a dwelling size issue and an expected occupancy one. A one-bedroom can be fine for two people if they’re a couple, but not so much if they’re just roommates.

          My objection to was the implication that 69,000 new people and 21,000 new dwellings meant we were 45,000 short. We may be short over the period, but it would be by some smaller number.

          1. Well of course you’re right: the whole statement that “housing is barely keeping pace with population growth” is splendidly bass-ackwards: housing is built and people move in, not the other way around…there isn’t some giant waiting room at the city limits where people sit w/ their furniture waiting for something to open up; oh, sure, people may double or triple up for a short time, but eventually they’ll just move somewhere else.

          2. Or even, housing is built and people don’t move in.

            The Census reports 34,120 vacant housing units in SF in 2016 up from a low this cycle of 26,350 in 2013.

            Note that at the SF average occupancy of 2.25, that’s housing for 76,770 people or enough to absorb 9.3 years of growth by the Census’s number or 13.8 years of total net migration into SF.

        1. It’s almost as if we’re discussing a government demographic report that states the average number of people per dwelling to three significant digits.

    2. Keep in mind that the ratio of new residents to units of housing produced over the past year was in line with the average occupancy rate, in terms of residents per unit of housing, in San Francisco (2.25). And while the 4,441 net-new units added to San Francisco’s housing stock in 2017 was down 12 percent from 2016, it was nearly double the 20-year average of 2,295.

      At the same time, plans for roughly 6,700 units of new housing were authorized by the City over the past year, a 66 percent increase from 4,100 in 2016 and versus a 20-year average of 2,940, leading to San Francisco’s record housing pipeline, but downward trend in actual building, as we first reported earlier this year.

      1. In fairness, San Francisco has done better in the last few years than it did in the previous decades.

        SS’s observation about approved vs. built housing is an important one, though.

    3. If people move to an area and stay in an area, then, by definition, housing must have kept up with population growth. Common sense.

      1. I dunno. We have close to 8,000 people living in tents in SF. I don’t see them going anywhere and they certainly are not housed…

      2. If people move to an area and PRICES REMAIN FLAT, then housing has kept up with population growth. This is clearly not the case in SF. The strong appreciation in prices shows you that many more people would like to live in SF, if only enough housing existed to keep the rents affordable.

  1. So much for the mass migration out. Hunter’s Point & Treasure Island housing is dead. The SF government is a failure as the housing crisis shall only worsen.

      1. Hunter’s Point is definitely dead forever because of the scam cleanup, and since TI faces the exact same cleanup problem, and has the exact same responsible party (US Navy) you can pretty much count it out too.

        1. everyone knew that would be a tough place to fix. but it is fixable, even if you have to scoop out all the dirt and replace it (though at that rate, might be easier to just fill in more bay as planned 100 years ago, and maybe some of those off-shore lots would then be worth something).

    1. It’s too soon the know how much of an impact this situation/scandal will have on CP/HP and TI. For CP/HP, those developments will be build out over decades so a further slowing may happen and a scaleback of the projects. I don’t believe it is totally dead in the water. TI is a different matter. That project was ill-conceived from the get-go.

      To the extent HP/CP is significantly reduced in scope, that would be problematic. SF is basically built out but for the SE waterfront down to HP. No more room for massive housing or office development (HP/CP was/is set to have up to 5 million feet of office space) in SF. We’ll have to wait and see how the HP/CP situation plays out.

      1. HP and TI are both complete frauds. Google Tetra Tech fraud and look at the news. Go back and watch the videos by the whistleblowers. Once they moved from “time and materials” to “fixed-price” contracts, Tetra Tech started cutting corners and faking test results. I would expect the company to be indicted soon but they are very well connected in SF and at the Federal level. Apparently Gascon and Herrera are too busy chasing down AirBNB property owners too go after real crimes.

        The housing market is not fooled by all the bogus forecasts by SF for 30K new homes. Prices will keep rising like crazy so long as rent control, costa-Hawkins and drastically reduced future supplies are the true reality of SF. Jane Kim represents Treasure Island – I hope the people look into her role in all of this.

        1. San Francisco is arguably the most dysfunctional city in American. The scandal over the filthy and needle laden streets is making national news. Now some conventions are threatening to cancel future engagements and the tourist board is demanding something be done. But will the city really do something? it’s like no one is in charge. I’m pretty much unimpressed with the candidates – have any addressed the HP issue yet? The housing pipeline figure of 65K was never going to happen anyway and especially given what SF will do if Costa is repealed. Blanket rent control and vacancy control. Builder won’t touch SF in that scenario.

          1. But yet, you still call it your home. You complain so much and sputter out misinformation. I really doubt you live in SF.

          2. Dave has made good fortunes with his Seattle/Portland real estate investments. He clearly possesses a sharp mind. Yet, some mister opus forces are somehow keeping him in this blighted dump called San Francisco. ‘Unlivable City’ is even worse when it comes to 24/7 SF bashing

          3. Well Dave could have made a lot more money sticking with SF RE. I know I have. Value add developments give you a great boost, as does gentrification, but really just hanging on and riding the appreciation train is all you need. There are so many SF RE millionaires around, I bet more people made it with RE than tech stocks in the city.

            As for SF population “dwindling” due to high costs, well per this post that didn’t happen. And any new housing delays per this discussion are great for current owners anyways.

            As for SF prices “simply bring too high to afford”, well Manhattan is 2x the price of frisco, and people keep buying there. Why? Cause it’s highly in demand with limited in availability. With its recognition as a global destination city and Silicon Valley in its backyard, SF has at least as much to offer to the digerati generation. There’s simply too much wealth already here, and too much wealth trying to buy real property here. Seattle and Oakland ain’t got that. So those who can, do. Those who can’t go for me2 and me3.

          4. SFRentier maybe right. Basically anyone who owned property in San Francisco 30 years ago is or could be a millionaire, if they held on to it.

          5. Sometimes we are the hardest critics of the ones we love – we have higher expectations from our own kids but cares a lot less about what the neighbor kids do with their life.

          6. Every single city has problems.. You only realize them when you live there. In other news Facebook (aka money printing machine) just leased a whole another skyscraper in downtown SF

            [Editor’s Note: We’ll let you know when a lease for the 750,000-square-foot Park Tower is actually inked.]

    2. Ummm construction here on treasure island is definitely not dead. The clean up was going on for the past decade. Now it’s already trasforming, and construction is definitely underway. Infrastructure work is currently being done. And yes I live here on the island.

  2. So how accurate are these estimates (?) one wonders (at least compared to the Census, which – while inaccurate itself – nevertheless is the number that counts). I seem to recall a claim that Finance had an upward bias in its numbers, and it seems last time around it did (at least with LA, locally IIRC Oakland was overstated a lot and SF somewhat less). Of course they’ve perfected their methods by now 🙂

    1. The actual US census only occurs once every 10 years. The Census data I linked to yesterday was the US census bureau’s population estimates which they generate by estimating population change each year starting from the last census (2010 in that case). They check their errors by comparing the actual decennial census counts to their estimates based off the last decade’s census. The total actual vs estimate error for 2010 was 3.1%, though as your article points out, this can vary by region. Not sure how this compares on average to the CDF numbers. Though the Census numbers were from July 2016 to July 2017 and not calendar year 2017 as seems to be the case above.

  3. And curiously while Sonoma Cty went down, Santa Rosa – which saw at least two whole neighborhoods wiped out, and comprises nearly 40% of said county – actually went up by 424. But, again, the methodology is perfect now. (Tho in fairness, the other cities there were up by 1.7-3.5% so it really my have grown that fast in the spared areas)

    1. Footnotes matter. “Santa Rosa in Sonoma County lost 3,081 housing units as a result of the wildfires, the most in the state. However, overall change in Santa Rosa population is positive (0.2 percent) due to a large annexation of almost 2,000 housing units.”

      1. Or a net loss of ~1100 (disregarding other construction, of course); hence “curious” … not “impossible”

  4. Though SF should be building more housing, the other counties should be building even more, specifically Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.

    1. Santa Clara doubles SF’s and encompasses 1/3 of the population growth in the Bay Area. C’mon now.

      1. True but Santa Clara County is also responsible for the bulk of the Bay Area’s job growth too. In the interest of shortening commutes the county should build more residential. Some cities are carrying their weight but Palo Alto and Mt. View are notoriously shirking the responsibility to provide housing for the jobs that they create.

        1. Absolutely. Their refusal to build sufficient housing is shameful. Their NIMBYs are maybe even stronger than SF’s NIMBYs.

          1. I don’t think NIMBY strength is the issue. Every community has residents who will strongly resist any change. The main factor is the strength of the city government and communities as a whole at resisting NIMBY pressure.

          2. That’s what I meant. In SF the NIMBY rhetoric is nominally about something else. Their city governments are largely openly NIMBY. They flat out say they don’t want housing of any kind.

          3. Right, like Brisbane. There needs to be a fundamental change in the way residential is taxed relative to commercial. Right now the math shows commercial is more profitable for cities. Game Theory steers those cities towards preferring commercial to maximize net revenue and regulations are just a flimsy dike against the forces of economics.

          4. our govt is still NIMBY as well. see Western SOMA for example where building limited to 5 floors for a central city industrial wasteland, that is walking distance to downtown core

    2. The real laggard seems to be Solano, which probably has more readily buildable land than all of the rest of the BA put together; but of course it also has the (not so) slight disadvantage that it’s miles and miles and hours from where most of the jobs are – be they BA jobs or Sacto jobs – and so not many people – be they residents or builders – are interested in it. And that part – “builders” – also points out the bizareness of these accusations of cities/counties “not doing their part”: counties don’t build houses, builders build houses. And before you jump up and say NIMBY’s are preventing it, I’ll return to Berkeley, where over half of the units approved haven’t even seen a building permit requested yet…seems you can lead a horse to water, but can’t put a hammer in his hoof.

      1. Solano has the opposite problem: not enough jobs to balance the residential. Though refineries are huge, they really do not employ many people. As you mention commutes from Solano to job centers is far from idea.

      2. Solano also has a lot of prime Ag land/greenbelt that probably ought not to be paved over…..

        1. Here’s one reason why people aren’t building in Solano – it’s still possible to buy way below replacement cost: $98K – this would be great housing for a single person who wants to save money and establish herself in the Bay Area.

          People thrive by finding a way to live within your means. This unit is about a 10 minute walk from the ferry to the embarcadero. With $20K down, the mortgage on 78K at 4.5% is $395 per month.

          1. That’s a nicely priced unit though it is in one of the skeeziest parts of Vallejo. That said downtown Vallejo has significant potential. It has nicely scaled neighborhoods with handsome Victorians.

            Related to this about five years ago a friend of mine bought a 2BR condo ten minutes away from the North Concord BART. She paid about $75K. Her complex was also a bit run down though you can’t complain about the price.

  5. The numbers confirm a relatively anemic growth rate for the Bay Area. Slightly under the national population growth rate of .8% The growth is significantly slower than Seattle’s 3.1% and Portland’s 2.4% There are a number of metros growing at 1.8% – almost 3%. larger metros. As significant, some second tier cities/metros – benefitting from tech and job placement outside of the Bay Area – are growing even faster. Boise is seeing a lot of tech job growth and population growth of about 3%.

    A systemic is occurring in metro areas and population/job centers that, if played out over a decade plus, will rejigger the pecking order of regions. Seattle will overtake SF in population by the early 2030s and the Seattle metro area will overtake the SF/Oakland in population metro area maybe a decade later. If one is a RE investor numbers like this are significant but even as a BA resident they could be. Given that, in part, Federal monies are “dispensed” based on population figures.

    1. Seattle is just catching up they will eventually run into problems other big cities are facing today. Any prediction that Seattle is going to keep up this growth rate for 25 years and become the economic center of the Pacific Coast is ridiculous.

    2. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I hope you are making you real estate investment decisions based on better figures than these. Seattle’s population will overtake San Francisco’s by 2030? I mean, maybe, who knows. But given that Seattle has almost twice as much land within its city limits, it would be a pretty sorry thing for Seattle if it didn’t catch up somewhat, no?

  6. No question that the East Bay with over 2.8 million residents and with 23,000 new residents from a year ago, is the economic titan of the Bay Area. The East Bay is by far the largest region with by far the largest potential for growth. SF exists by taking East Bay wealth and business from Oakland.

    1. LOL! “The Economic Titan of the Bay Area..” This guy thinks the East Bay is the best thing ever. Not the trillions of dollars of wealthy on the peninsula and SF that is ushering in a new age of industry entirely.

    2. Jesus, E Golsalves. Can you let it rest? There is no singular, unified “East Bay” which is being victimized by EVILLLLLL San Francisco. It’s a huge metropolitan area that sprawls across multiple counties with multiple job centers. SF does not need to “take” wealth from Oakland. Oakland’s own venal leadership is perfectly capable of slowing things down by itself.

      1. There certainly is an East Bay. Alameda and Contra Costa counties make up a very defined and logical East Bay region.

        Let’s face it, much of SF’s prosperity has been built on East Bay residents bypassing Oakland and getting on the Bay Bridge to spend their money in SF.

        Thank goodness Oakland is now booming and is starting to capture what should rightfully be its economic prosperity based on it being the largest and leading city in the East Bay region.

        1. Do you have any verifiable links or sources that state SF prosperity is made of East Bay residents crossing over the bridge. Otheriwse, your nothing more than a BS artist.

          1. He absolutely doesn’t. He’s been doing this across many Bay Area development and news sites for years and has yet to make an argument supported by evidence.

          2. Last Census report says 120k SF bound commuters (45%) commute from Alameda and CoCo counties. Honestly, I’ve lived all over the US and I’ve never seen the level of vitriol and disregard from folks in a principle city about a neighboring major city. If you don’t think SF interests are Balkanized you’re ignorant or stupid. Which implies many SFists lack confidence in their city’s place in the world. As far as urban planning is concerned SF-OAK are twin cities. As we move away from 20th century policies that decentralized our cities expect the two to look more and more the same. “Bay City” isn’t a far fetched idea.

          3. I truly don’t see any hate in my comment. Maybe you’re being a bit sensitive? I wish SFists didn’t give Oakland much thought -we’d only have a quarter of the BS to eye roll over.

          4. If you don’t see any hate in your statement maybe its because “you’re ignorant or stupid.”

        2. You want evidence? Look at the clogged eastbound Bay Bridge. Look what happened to businesses in SF when the Bay Bridge was closed. It’s clear as day. You take away the Bay Bridge and the SF economy would collapse and Oakland would boom like it has never boomed before.

          1. If people go to SF to work then pay for their house, food and everything else in the East Bay, which county is stealing the other’s wealth?

          2. My point is that without the Bay Bridge or BART those jobs and office buildings would have been in Oakland. How would SF be a job center without the Bay Bridge and BART. That second BART tube or second Bay Bridge is not meant for Oakland’s or the Eadt Bay’s prosperity. Those improvements are intended to further prop up and grow SF’s economy.

          3. Lame statement. What happened after the 89 earthquake when the Bay Bridge closed? People took BART and the Ferries to SF. Nothing happened and life went on and SF still is the Premier City in the SF Bay Area.

          4. So then people in oakland should stop burning construction sites and instead burn the bridge down!

          5. Construction sites have caught fire in San Francisco, LA, etc., not just in Oakland, Emeryville and Concord. No shame in admitting that SF depends on access to the huge East Bay population for its prosperity. SF business leaders and politicians know this. Oakland leaders also know they’ve been used as a thoroughfare to SF for much too long.

          6. If Oakland was as wonderful as you think it is, people wouldn’t just drive through on their way to SF. Every city has its faults, Oakland just has more than the surrounding cities.

          7. As to dispersal of jobs, if the BA were serious about that it would have a situation as is emerging in Washington DC/the Northern Virginia suburbs and Seattle/Bellevue/Tacoma. That is a dispersal of jobs across many business sub-hubs throughout the region. Whether one is going to Oakland or SF, if one is east of the East Bay Hills the traffic is clogged coming in from Vallejo, through the Caldecott and on 580 between Dublin and CV. One solution would be a massive office/tech park at the old Naval Weapons Station in Concord. It could support perhaps 100K jobs and still leave room for significant amounts of medium density housing on the site. Tandem that with a large business sub-hub in Fairfield/Vallejo and the advantage is thousands and thousands of workers not commuting to the inner BA. The other advantage is the open space in the Fairfield area. Ripe for medium density housing development. Probably the only such amount of space available in all of the BA but for southern SCC – and that area, around Gilroy, – would work as a southern BA business sub-hub too. . It’s an obvious partial solution to the BA traffic mess and affordability situation.

          8. “…the only such amount of space available in all of the BA but for southern SCC – and that area, around Gilroy,”

            Most of the undeveloped flatlands between southern SJ and Gilroy is zoned agricultural and therefore not subdividable. Of course zoning can change but so far there has not been much political will to sprawl into that greenbelt.

          9. Dave – that would be good use of any abandoned military base.
            As for Gilroy, it is likely to happen with HSR making a stop there and reasonable access to the Bay Area in general, but it would be a shame to see all that good farmland paved over – goodbye fruits and vegetables and road side stands every mile 🙁

          10. Anon123 – the idea of a business hub in the Gilroy or Milpitas area does not mean plowing over all the farmland. Per the New Urbanism there would be a concentrated business/jobs hub with supporting residential (medium density) and retail nearby. Most of the farmland/orchards could remain as permanent greenways. This type of development has been going on in the farmland rich Tualatin Valley for a while now and the green and pristine landscape is largely intact.

          11. Correct – past performance does not guarantee future results – we might be able to learn from past mistakes. I still see a lot of farm land converted to sub-divisions in our state and it takes a lot of discipline to maintain productive farmland next to a booming business hub; uses that can return many times the revenue per acre.

            It is much preferable to convert vacant naval bases or abandoned industrial land to urban use when possible, but it takes political leadership.

          12. It takes regional and not parochial political leadership – for sure. Reuse of places like the Naval Weapons Station, creating new hubs in places like Fairfield and south Santa Clara County in a smart way that trades a core medium density developed area for preserved greenways. Looking north, the North Bay needs to be a part of this. Santa Rosa has a downtown core that could be converted to medium scale tech/office use while building medium scale residential. No need to go beyond the SR developed core but it certainly can be significantly up-built as a jobs center. Helping alleviate the bad traffic situation on 101 which is a nightmare going from Petaluma into the City at rush hour.

          13. add more jobs in downtown SF is the right answer, but places like western soma should be huge residential hubs, and the most importnat thing we can do is improve transit (which hasnt improved in 30 years). We need at least a Geary subway and a 2nd transbay tube and anoth cross bay bridge. All 3 of those things are needed today, meaning should have been approved 20 years ago. We are way behind.

            how many bridges and tunnels are going into manhattan?

        3. Oakland’s population is growing mostly because SF can’t/ won’t provide enough accomodations, reasonably priced or not. Not because SF is any less desirable. Quite the opposite. It’s a “I want to live in SF but I can’t afford it/find housing there” effect.

    3. I 100% guarantee you can’t provide any evidence to support this patently absurd assertion. Instead, you’ll continue to willfully spread misinformation while masquerading as an Oakland resident despite having never been one by your own admission.

  7. OK. Someone just needs to say this. And as an “old time” tech, when I see HP and/or TI, my first thought is not real estate – it is Hewlett Packard and Texas Instruments. Long Live Old TECH!

    1. My CS professor is one of the original engineers of ARPAnet. Now if you know what I’m talking about you are really old school tech (or have an interest in computer history). I myself come from the Netscape 1.0 and Mosaic days.

  8. Housing should be required where jobs are. Simple as that. Doesn’t California have rules on the number of parking spaces required when building a new building? (or maybe its just SF). If a city simply refuses to meet their ratio, they can pay another city to build that slot (a bit like carbon trading). The cities should pass this cost on to companies via city tax/fee or business real estate tax.

    The amount of traffic created by not having people where jobs are is just incredible, not to speak of the burden on peoples lives. I havent seen it this bad since….1999?

    1. “If a city simply refuses to meet their ratio, they can pay another city to build that slot (a bit like carbon trading).”
      Wouldn’t that just move housing further away from the job centers?

    2. Jobs should be located near where the majority of the population resides, not at a tip of a congested peninsula relying on bridges and an under the Bay BART tunnel. SF-centric thinking by corporations is the bottle neck of Bay Area congestion.

      1. In the defense of the corporate think, there are a lot of jobs located down the peninsula into San Jose as well. I don’t know the statistics but San Jose may be as job concentrated as SF, with people commuting in. To relieve the pressure on housing in the Bay area you would need to move jobs into the Central Valley – Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno etc.

        1. Oakland should have at least as many jobs as SF to balance the commute and manage congestion.

          1. That’s diametrically opposed to what you just tried to claim. If “jobs belong where people live”, then Oakland should have 1/2 as many jobs as San Francisco because it has 1/2 as many people. All you’re advocating for is that a disproportionately high number of jobs should be concentrated in Oakland as if that would help congestion, and not just shift it to different spots and in different directions.

          2. Oakland is the capital of the 2.8 million East Bay region and has more BART stops than any city in the Bay Area.

      2. not sf centric. have you heard of manhattan. tiny island. jobs center. bridges, tunnels. oakland is the jersey city of san francsico

  9. Single family houses will continue to grow in demand and value as singles get married and groe out of the small condos. We will see more and more starter home neighborhoods continue to get large overbids.

    1. “and value as singles get married and groe out of the small condos.”

      But do they grow into a SF SFH or do they leave? A population addition of one newborn could trigger a move from a condo to a larger condo or SFH. Or it could lead to a domestic out-migration of 3 people.

      1. Yes the trigger is both leaving or staying but the population of condos is getting larger and the amount of SFH is flat.

        Demand is going to be higher and you already see starter homes
        getting bid up with higher $/SQ foot in formerly affordable areas.

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