San Francisco Bay Area

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USGS satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area taken in 1999.
Location of the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA and its component metropolitan areas:      San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont      San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara      Santa Rosa-Petaluma      Vallejo-Fairfield      Santa Cruz-Watsonville      Napa
Location of the San Francisco Bay Area according to many local residents

The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, or the Bay, is a metropolitan region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo bays in Northern California.

It encompasses large cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas. Overall, the Bay Area consists of nine counties, 101 cities, and 7,000 square miles.[1] The nine counties are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.[2]

The Bay Area encompasses the metropolitan areas of San Francisco (12th largest in the country) and San Jose (31st largest in the country), as well as four other smaller, surrounding metropolitan areas. When defined as a Combined Statistical Area, the Bay Area is the sixth largest in the country, including over 7.2 million people.[3] The Bay Area hosts many cities, towns, military bases, airports, and associated regional, state, and national parks, connected by a massive network of roads, highways, railroads, bridges, tunnels and commuter rail. The combined urban area of San Francisco and San Jose is the 49th largest urban area in the world.

San Francisco is the financial center of the Bay Area (and has the second highest density rate in the nation after New York City), while San Jose is the largest city in land area, and the most populous city. The Bay Area is renowned for its natural beauty, liberal politics, affluence and its new age reputation.[4][5]


[edit] Subregions

[edit] San Francisco

San Francisco panorama from Alcatraz.

The City and County of San Francisco is generally placed in a category by itself in terms of culture and geography, and is known locally as "The City." San Francisco is surrounded by water on three sides; the north, east, and west. It is the cultural and urban center of the region. San Francisco is the key population center of the region as it squeezes approximately 800,000 people in only 47 square miles, making it the second most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City. The limitations of land area makes continued population growth challenging for the city, as well as having resulted in increased real estate prices due to the limited availability of land. San Francisco also has the largest commuter population of any city in the Bay Area.

[edit] North Bay

Napa Valley is most famous for its wine.

The region north of the Golden Gate Bridge is known locally as the North Bay. This area consists of Marin County and extends northward into Sonoma County and Napa County and eastward into Solano County. The city of Fairfield, being part of Solano County, is often considered the eastern most city of the North Bay, though due to a stronger cultural/socioeconomic similarity to many East Bay cities, it is also often considered the northern most city of the East Bay.

With few exceptions, this region is quite affluent: Marin County is ranked as the wealthiest in the nation. The North Bay is comparatively rural to the remainder of the Bay Area; many areas of undeveloped open space, farmland and vineyards. Santa Rosa in Sonoma County is the North Bay's largest city, with a population of 157,985 and a Metropolitan Statistical Area population of 466,891, making it the fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The North Bay is the only section of the Bay Area that is not currently served by a commuter rail service. However, increased urbanization has lead both Sonoma and Marin counties to begin construction on a commuter rail transit system[6]. The lack of transportation services is mainly because of the lack of population mass in the North Bay, and the fact that it is separated completely from the rest of the Bay Area by water, the only access points being the Golden Gate Bridge leading to San Francisco, the Richmond-San Rafael and Carquinez Bridges leading to Richmond, and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge leading to Martinez.

[edit] Peninsula

View of Colma, California, looking down from San Bruno Mountain

The area between San Francisco and the South Bay, geographically part of the San Francisco Peninsula, is known locally as the Peninsula. This area consists of a series of small cities and suburban communities in San Mateo County and the northwestern part of Santa Clara County, as well as various towns along the Pacific coast, such as Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. This area is extremely diverse, although it contains significant populations of affluent family households with the exception of East Palo Alto and some parts of Redwood City. Many of the cities and towns had originally been centers of rural life until the post-World War II era when large numbers of middle and upper class Bay area residents moved in and developed the small villages. Since the 1980s the area has seen a large growth rate of middle and upper class families who have settled in cities like Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Redwood Shores and Atherton as part of the technology boom of Silicon Valley. Many of these families are of foreign background and have significantly contributed to the diversity of the area. The Peninsula is also home to what used to be one of the deadliest cities in the United States, East Palo Alto. Peninsula cities include: Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Redwood City, Redwood Shores, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Woodside.

[edit] East Bay

Looking west from the Berkeley Hills. Visible clockwise around the bay from the distant Golden Gate (upper center) are Marin County (Upper Right). Albany (Lower Right), Berkeley (Center and foreground), Emeryville (Lower Left), Oakland (Far Lower Left), South San Francisco (Far Upper Left) and San Francisco (Upper Left)

The eastern side of the bay, consisting of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is known locally as the East Bay. The East Bay is split into two regions, the inner East Bay, which sits on the Bay shoreline, and the outer East Bay, consisting of inland valleys separated from the inner East Bay by hills and mountains.

  • The inner East Bay includes the western portions of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including the cities of Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, Berkeley, and Richmond, as well as many smaller suburbs such as Alameda, Castro Valley, Newark, Union City, Emeryville, Albany, San Leandro, San Pablo, El Sobrante,Pinole, Piedmont, and El Cerrito. The inner East Bay is more urban, more densely populated, has a much older building stock (built before World War II) and a more ethnically diverse population. Oakland hosts the region's largest seaport and professional sports franchises in basketball, football, and baseball. As with many inner urban areas, the Inner East Bay also features a high incidence of crime as well as other socio-economic problems. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, more than 50% of all homicides in the Bay Area in 2002 occurred within the city limits of Oakland and Richmond. The homicide rates have steadily increased, as 2005 had the highest homicide rates for both Richmond and Oakland in many years.
  • The outer East Bay consists of the eastern portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and is divided into 5 distinct areas: Lamorinda, Central Contra Costa County, East Contra Costa County, the San Ramon Valley, and the Livermore-Amador Valley. The word Lamorinda was coined by combining the names of the cities it includes: Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda. Walnut Creek is situated east of Lamorinda and north of the San Ramon Valley and, together with Concord, Martinez, and Pleasant Hill comprises Central Contra Costa County. The cities of Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and the unincorporated areas surrounding them comprise East Contra Costa County. The cities of Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, comprise the Livermore-Amador Valley (sometimes joined with the San Ramon Valley and called the Tri-Valley), or more popularly referred to as the Livermore Valley because Livermore is the largest city in the valley. The San Ramon Valley consists of Alamo, Danville, Diablo and its namesake, San Ramon to the south. The outer East Bay is connected to the inner East Bay by BART, Interstates 80, 580, and 680, and State Route 24 via the Caldecott Tunnel. The outer East Bay is particularly urban in Livermore, while being part suburban in Pleasanton-Dublin, and its infrastructure was mostly built up after World War II. This area remains largely white demographically, although the Hispanic and Filipino populations have grown significantly over the past 2-3 decades, particularly in the Concord area.

[edit] San Jose and Silicon Valley

Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown is at far left) and other parts of Silicon Valley

The communities along the southern edge of the Bay are known as the South Bay, Santa Clara Valley, and Silicon Valley. Some Peninsula and East Bay towns are sometimes included in the latter. It includes the major city of San Jose, and its suburbs, including the city of Morgan Hill, and the high-tech hubs of Santa Clara, Milpitas, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and Mountain View as well as many other suburbs like Los Altos, Saratoga, Campbell and Los Gatos. Generally, the South Bay is Santa Clara County, but the northwest portion of the county (Palo Alto and Mountain View) is often considered part of the Peninsula instead. Home of Silicon Valley, the South Bay was also an early development of working and middle class families who left the coastal cities of the Eastern Bay south of Oakland and Alameda. Large numbers of families during the post-World War era also moved there for the aerospace industry. This area has long been developed and expanded and is often featured as a stereotype of the typical California suburban city. Today, the growth continues, primarily fueled by technology and cheap immigrant workers. The result has been a huge increase in the value of property forcing many middle class families out of the area or into nascent ghettos in older sections of the region.

Befitting of the title Silicon Valley, this region is home to a vast number of technology sector giants. Some notable tech companies headquartered in the Bay are AMD, Intel, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Google, eBay, and Yahoo!. As a consequence of the rapid growth of these and other companies, the South Bay has gained increasing political and economic influence both within California and throughout the world.

San Jose, the tenth largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the Bay Area, is the financial and cultural center of the Santa Clara Valley. It contains many neighborhoods and a large demographic comparable to San Francisco. San Jose is also home to NHL hockey team San Jose Sharks. Because the San Jose International Airport's airplane route flies directly over Downtown, this limits the height of buildings in the Financial District of Downtown. Over the past decade, San Jose has experienced rapid growth. To limit the effects of urban sprawl, planned communities were laid out to control growth. San Jose continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

A panoramic view of Downtown San Jose from San Jose International Airport.

[edit] Santa Cruz and San Benito

The regional governments in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board include only the nine counties above in their boundaries or membership. (The BAAQMD includes all of the nine counties except the northern portions of Sonoma and Solano; the RWQCB includes all of San Francisco and the portions of the other eight counties that drain to San Francisco Bay or to the Pacific Ocean.)[7] However, the United States Census Bureau defines the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Consolidated Statistical Area as an eleven-county region, including the nine counties above plus Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Meanwhile, the California State Parks Department defines the Bay Area as including ten counties,[8] including Santa Cruz but excluding San Benito. On the other hand, Santa Cruz and San Benito along with Monterey County are part of a different regional government organization called the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.

Some residents of the Santa Cruz Mountains (Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, Felton, Scotts Valley) do not usually consider themselves to be residents of the Bay Area, rather just of the Santa Cruz Mountains themselves. The Santa Cruz Mountains run along the spine of the San Francisco Peninsula, beginning in San Francisco and continuing down to their terminus near the City of Gilroy, effectively creating the Santa Clara Valley.

The city of Santa Cruz is geographically isolated from the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is usually considered a part of the Monterey Bay area since the city lies on the north end of the Monterey Bay. The city is also sometimes regarded as the northernmost point of the California Central Coast, which extends along the state's coastline to Santa Barbara.

This partial inclusion of these two counties in the Bay Area is one manifestation of a "spillover" where, because of high housing prices in the Bay Area proper, people with Bay Area jobs purchase homes in outlying areas and endure long commutes. This blurs the outer borders of the Bay Area, which now can be said to spillover not only to the south (Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties) but to the Central Valley counties of Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Yolo.

[edit] Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 658,111
1910 925,708 40.7%
1920 1,182,911 27.8%
1930 1,578,009 33.4%
1940 1,734,308 9.9%
1950 2,681,322 54.6%
1960 3,638,939 35.7%
1970 4,628,199 27.2%
1980 5,179,784 11.9%
1990 6,023,577 16.3%
2000 6,783,760 12.6%
Est. 2007 6,958,473 2.6%

According to the 2007 American Community Survey, the Bay Area's population was 6.958 million, up from 6.784 million in 2000. In 2000 the racial makeup of the 9 County Bay Area was 58.10% White, 19.01% Asian American, 0.54% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 7.53% Black, 0.64% Native American, 9.24% from other races, and 4.93% from two or more races. 19.39% of the population was Hispanic of any race. 27.36% of the population was foreign born; of this, 51.31% from Asia, 32.46% came from Latin America, 11.39% from Europe, 4.84% from other parts of the world.

[edit] Affluence

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the wealthiest regions in the U.S, partly due to Silicon Valley. The Bay Area has approximately 163.124 households classified as millionaires.[9] Among medium-sized cities, Pleasanton has the highest household income in the country, and Livermore the third highest. Nevertheless, disposable income is very comparable with the rest of the country, largely because the increased cost of living offsets increased income.[10]

While only 26% of households nationwide boast incomes of over $75,000 a year, 48% of households in the San Francisco Bay Area enjoy such incomes.[11] The percentage of households with incomes exceeding the $100,000 mark in the Bay Area was double the nationwide percentage. Roughly one third (31%) of households in the San Francisco Bay Area had a six figure income, versus less than 16% at the nationwide level.[12] In June 2003, a study by Stanford University reviewing US Census Bureau statistics determined the median household income in the San Francisco Bay Area to be roughly 60% above national average.[11] Overall the largest income bracket in the Bay Area were households making between $100,000 and $150,000 annually, who constituted roughly 18% of households.[11] On a national level the largest income bracket were households with incomes between $30,000 and $40,000 who constituted 13% of all households nationwide.[12]

This graph compares the income distribution among Bay Area households to the national level.[11][12]

Six of the top ten California places with the highest per capita income are in the San Francisco Bay Area (Belvedere, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Diablo). Of the 100 highest income counties by per capita income in the United States, six are in the San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda). According to Forbes Magazine, published in 2005, 12 of the top 50 most expensive Zip Codes are in the Bay Area (Atherton, Ross, Diablo, Belvedere-Tiburon, Nicasio, Portola Valley, Los Altos-Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno, the Cow Hollow-Marina District of San Francisco, Alamo, and Burlingame-Hillsborough). [2]

Forty-seven San Francisco Bay Area residents made the Forbes magazine's 400 richest Americans list, published in 2007.[13] Thirteen live within San Francisco proper, placing it seventh among cities in the world. Among the forty-two were several well-known names such as Steve Jobs, George Lucas, and Charles Schwab. The highest-ranking resident is Larry Ellison of Oracle at No. 4. He is worth $19.5 billion. Additionally, a Forbes Magazine survey of the super wealthy concluded that the San Francisco Bay Area had the highest concentration of the super wealthy relative to other locations such as New York City and Dallas. "America's Greediest Cities".  (Forbes Magazine, 12/03/07)

A study by Claritas indicates that in 2004, 5% of all households within the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas held $1 million in investable assets.[14]

As of 2007, there were approximately 80 public companies with annual revenues of over $1 billion a year, and 5-10 more private companies. Nearly 2/3 of these are in the Silicon Valley section of the Bay Area.

[edit] Living expenses

The popularity of the region, owing both to its mild weather and its cultural and economic diversity, combined with strong anti-growth sentiment (both local and statewide), has led to high housing costs, especially for ownership and for commercial property leases. Owing to the relatively lower costs of outlying housing and limited public transportation, long, expensive, and often unpleasant automobile commutes are common in the region, and these costs tend to trickle down throughout various activities, making many other activities such as dining out, theater tickets, etc., more expensive than in other areas of the country. Wages of only a limited portion of the population have kept pace with the increased expenses, and many minimum wage earners, even those holding multiple jobs, (and many families with multiple members employed) are classified as "working poor," while the higher incomes necessary for a satisfactory lifestyle in the region lead to higher taxes, especially at the federal level for persons not qualifying for high mortgage or self-employment related deductions.

Although most working-class households in the United States earn between $20,000–$30,000 a year, working-class households in the Bay Area earn over $50,000 a year performing the same jobs (such as in the service industry), which would be considered middle-class in other parts of the country. Nevertheless, because of extremely expensive housing costs, disposable income of working-class Bay Area households is only equivalent to the amount of disposable income in other parts of the country because the rest of the income increase goes to pay for an increased cost of living. Therefore, although the great majority of the population is much more affluent (without taking into account the increased costs of living) compared to the rest of the country, the disposable income is nearly identical. This enables low cost goods shops, such as variety stores, to maintain a presence in the Bay Area.

[edit] Political views

The Bay Area is renowned as being among the most liberal areas in the country. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI), congressional districts the Bay Area tend to favor Democratic candidates by roughly 40 percentage points, considerably above the mean for Coastal California or California overall. All but one congressional district in the region voted for John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election with only 29% of votes being cast in support of George W. Bush. CPVI ratings ranged from D +14 in San Jose to D +21 in Marin County and D +38 in Barbara Lee's district encompassing Berkeley and Oakland. Nancy Pelosi's district, California's 8th which includes most of the city of San Francisco, had a CPVI rating of D +36 with George W. Bush having received only 14% of votes in the city.

Over the last four and a half decades the 9 county Bay Area has voted for a Republican candidate only twice, in 1972 for Richard Nixon and in 1980 for Ronald Reagan, both Californians. The last county to have voted Republican was Napa county in 1988 for George H. W. Bush.

Presidential election results
Year Democrat Republican
2008 73.8% 2,172,411 24.4% 717,989
2004 69.2% 1,926,726 29.3% 815,225
2000 64.1% 1,607,695 30.0% 751,832
1996 60.5% 1,417,511 28.3% 662,263
1992 56.2% 1,476,971 25.0% 658,202
1988 57.8% 1,338,533 40.8% 945,802
1984 50.8% 1,157,855 47.9% 1,090,115
1980 40.7% 827,309 44.4% 904,100
1976 49.9% 950,055 45.8% 872,920
1972 48.2% 990,560 49.1 1,007,615
1968 50.8% 890,650 41.3% 725,304
1964 65.7% 1,116,215 34.1% 579,528
1960 52.0% 820,860 47.6% 751,719
District Location Cook Partisan Index % for Bush, 2004 Median Household Income[15] Per Capita Income[15]
&066th district Marin and Sonoma County D +21 28% $59,115 $33,036
&077th district Richmond, Vallejo, Vacaville, and Pittsburg D +19 32% $52,778 $22,016
&088th district City and County of San Francisco D +36 14% $52,322 $34,552
&099th district Oakland, Berkeley and the Oakland hills D +38 13% $44,314 $25,201
&1010th district Fairfield, Livermore, Pleasant Hill, and Concord D +09 40% $65,245 $31,093
&1111th district Parts of Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties including Morgan Hill, Pleasanton, and San Ramon R +03 54% $61,996 $28,420
&1212th district San Francisco Peninsula including most of San Mateo County D +22 27% $70,307 $34,448
&1313th district Silicon Valley and East Bay, including Fremont, Union city and Hayward D +22 28% $62,415 $26,076
&1414th district Silicon Valley, including Redwood City, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz D +18 30% $77,985 $43,063
&1515th district City of San Jose (western areas) D +14 36% $74,947 $32,617
&1616th district San Jose, Morgan Hill D +16 36% $67,689 $25,064
Median Districts: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th D +21.5 28% $65,052 $32,826

[edit] Weather

Rain is rare in the Bay Area during the summer months. As a result, the surrounding hills quickly become dry and golden-hued in grassy areas.
Skyline Boulevard stretches through the Santa Cruz Mountains, here near Palo Alto, California. During winter and spring, the hills surrounding the Bay Area are lush and green.

Because the hills, mountains, and large bodies of water produce such vast geographic diversity within this region, the Bay Area offers a significant variety of microclimates. The areas near the Pacific Ocean are generally characterized by relatively small temperature variations during the year, with cool foggy summers and mild rainy winters. Inland areas, especially those separated from the ocean by hills or mountains, have hotter summers and colder overnight temperatures during the winter. Few residential areas ever experience snow, but peaks over 2,000 feet (610 m) are often dusted with snow several times each winter (including Mount St. Helena, Mount Hamilton, Mount Diablo, and Mount Tamalpais). The coast north of San Francisco, where year-round cool, moist conditions enable redwoods to grow, has almost nothing in common with Livermore, just 40 miles (64 km) inland across the bay, which has desert-like precipitation and heat. San Jose at the south end of the Bay averages fewer than 15 inches (380 mm) of rain annually, while Napa at the north end of the Bay averages over 30 and parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains just a few miles west of San Jose get over 55. In the summer, inland regions can be over 40 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) warmer than the coast. This large temperature contrast induces a strong pressure gradient, which results in brisk coastal winds which help keep the coastal climate cool and typically, foggy during the summer. Additionally, strong winds are produced through gaps in the coastal ranges such as the Golden Gate, the Carquinez Strait, and the Altamont Pass, the latter the site of extensive wind farms. During the fall and winter seasons, when not stormy, a high pressure area is usually present inland, leading to an offshore flow. While negatively impacting air quality this also clears fog away from the Pacific shore, and so the best weather in San Francisco can usually be found from mid September through early November. Winter storms are typically short, wet, and mild in temperature during this time of year, being caused by cold fronts sweeping the eastern Pacific and originating from low pressure systems in the Gulf of Alaska but during late November into mid March, winter storms are usually several days in length, wet and cool, Occasionally during the Summer, spells of warm humid weather will drift over the Bay Area from the Southwest Monsoon, usually bringing high variable clouds as well, and more rarely, high-based thunderstorms.

[edit] Geology and landforms

[edit] Multiple terranes

The area is well known worldwide for the complexity of its landforms, the region being composed of at least six terranes (continental, seabed, or island arc fragments with distinct characteristics) pushed together over millions of years by the forces of plate tectonics. As a consequence, many types of rock and soil are found in the region. Formations include the sedimentary rocks of sandstone, limestone, and shale in uplifted seabeds, metamorphic serpentine rock, coal deposits, and igneous forms as the basalt flows and ash deposits of extinct volcanos. Pleistocene-era fossils of mammals are abundantly present in some locations.

[edit] Vertical relief

The region has considerable vertical relief in its landscapes that are not in the alluvial plains leading to the bay or in inland valleys. In combination with the extensive water regions this has forced the fragmented development of urban and suburban regions and has led to extensive building on poor soils in the limited flatland areas and considerable expense in connecting the various subregions with roads, tunnels, and bridges.

Several mountains are associated with some of the many ridge and hill structures created by compressive forces between the Pacific Plate and the North American plate. These provide spectacular views (in appropriate weather) of large portions of the Bay Area and include Marin County's Mount Tamalpais at 2,571 feet (784 m). Contra Costa County's Mount Diablo at 3,849 feet (1,173 m), Alameda County's Mission Peak at 2,517 feet (767 m), and Santa Clara County's Mount Hamilton at 4,213 ft (1,284 m), the latter with significant astronomical studies performed at its crowning Lick Observatory.

The three major ridge structures (part of the Pacific Coast Range) which are all roughly parallel to the major faultlines:

[edit] Major waterways

[edit] Earthquake faults

The region is also traversed by six major slip-strike fault systems with hundreds of related faults, many of which are "sister faults" of the infamous San Andreas Fault, all of which are stressed by the relative motion between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate or by compressive stresses between these plates. Significant blind thrust faults (faults with near vertical motion and no surface ruptures) are associated with portions of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the northern reaches of the Diablo Range and Mount Diablo.

[edit] Natural hazards

[edit] Earthquakes

Map showing some of the major faults in the Bay Area. Numerous minor faults are also capable of generating locally destructive earthquakes.
Map showing earthquake amplification due to soil type.

The region is particularly exposed to hazards associated with large earthquakes,[16] owing to a combination of factors:

  • Numerous major active faults in the region.
  • A combined thirty year probability of a major earthquake in excess of seventy percent.
  • Poorly responding native soil conditions in many places near the bay and in inland valleys, soils which amplify shaking as shown in the map to the right.
  • Large areas of filled marshlands and bay mud that are significantly urbanized, with most subject to liquefaction, becoming unable to support structures.
  • A large inventory of older buildings, many of which are expected to perform poorly in a major earthquake.
  • Extensive building in areas subject to landslide, mudslide, and in some locations directly over active fault surface rubble zones.
  • Most lowrise construction is not fireproof and water systems are likely to be extensively damaged and so large areas are subject to destruction by fire after a large earthquake.
  • The coastal location makes the region vulnerable to Pacific Ocean tsunamis.[17]

Some of these hazards are being addressed by seismic retrofitting, education in household seismic safety, and even complete replacement of major structures such as the eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.

For an article concerning a typical fault in the region and its associated hazards see Hayward Fault Zone. For projected ground movement after selecting a locality and a generating fault see this ABAG web page

[edit] Flooding

Some flooding occurs on local drainages under sustained wet conditions when the ground becomes saturated, more frequently in the North Bay area, which tends to receive substantially more rainfall than the South Bay. In one case, the Napa River drainage, floodplain developments are being purchased and removed and natural wetlands restored in the innovative Napa River Flood Project as the previous channelization of insufficient capacity around such developments was causing flooding problems upstream. Many of the local creeks have been channelized, although modern practice and some restoration work includes returning the creeks to a natural state with dry stormwater bypasses constructed to handle flooding. While quite expensive, the restoration of a natural environment is of high priority in the intensively urbanized areas of the region.

[edit] Windstorms and wildfires

Typically between late November and early March, a very strong Pacific storm can bring both substantial rainfall (saturating and weakening soil) and strong wind gusts that can cause trees to fall on power lines. Owing to the wide area involved (sometimes hundreds of miles of coast), service can be interrupted for up to several days in some more remote localities, but service is usually restored quickly in urban areas.

In the spring and fall, strong offshore winds periodically develop. These winds are an especially dangerous fire hazard in the fall when vegetation is at its driest, as exemplified historically by the 1923 Berkeley Fire and the 1991 Oakland Firestorm.

[edit] Mudslides and Landslides

Some geologically unstable areas have been extensively urbanized, and can become mobile due to changes in drainage patterns and grading created for development. These are usually confined to small areas, but there have been larger problems in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

[edit] Transportation

The Bay Area is served by many public transportation systems, including three international airports (SFO, OAK, SJC), six major overlapping bus transit agencies (AC Transit, Muni, SamTrans, VTA, Golden Gate Transit, County Connection), in addition to dozens of smaller ones. There are four rapid transit and regional rail systems including BART and CalTrain and two light rail systems (San Francisco Muni Metro and VTA Light-rail). There are also several regional rail lines provided by Amtrak, notable the Capitol Corridor. In addition to rail lines, there are multiple public and private ferry services (notably Golden Gate Ferry and Blue and Gold Fleet), which are being expanded by the San Francisco Bay Water Transit Authority. The regional ferry hub is San Francisco Ferry Building. AC Transit and some other agencies provide an extensive network of express "transbay" commuter buses from the suburbs to San Francisco Transbay Terminal.

The freeway and highway system is very extensive; however, many freeways are heavily congested during rush hour, especially the trans-bay bridges (Golden Gate and Bay Bridge). Furthermore there are some large gaps in the highways which run onto city streets in San Francisco, partially due to the Freeway Revolt (SF Board of Supervisors decisions made in 1959, 1964 and 1966), which prevented completion of freeways connecting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge western terminus (Interstate 80) with the southern terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge, and U.S. 101 through San Francisco, and additionally due to the destruction of several of those very freeway structures that sparked the revolt, which were damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and subsequently removed rather than being reinforced or rebuilt.

[edit] Higher education

The region is home to many universities and seminaries, most notably Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. In addition, the Bay Area is home to two of the twenty-eight Jesuit universities in the United States, Santa Clara University (founded in 1851), and University of San Francisco (1855), which are the two oldest institutions of higher learning in the state of California. In 2003, there were approximately 545,000 students enrolled in college or graduate school, while approximately 41 percent of residents aged 25 years and over had a bachelors degree or higher.[18] The San Francisco Bay Area population is near the top in the Nation for overall education level. The San Francisco and San Jose PMSAs rank third and fourth in college graduates, ahead of Boston and behind only Boulder–Longmont, Co PMSA and Stamford–Norwalk, CT PMSA. Santa Cruz PMSA ranks eighth and the Oakland PMSA eleventh.[19]


University of California, Berkeley.



Stanford University.

[edit] Religious life

The San Francisco Bay Area has a very diverse religious life with thousands of churches, pagodas, mosques, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras, and other religious centers. The Bay Area is home to Christians, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Scientology, and numerous other religious communities. Historically, San Francisco has been predominantly Roman Catholic, due to the Italian and Irish immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century.

[edit] Sports

Team Sport League Venue
San Francisco 49ers Football National Conference (National Football League) Candlestick Park
Oakland Raiders Football American Conference (National Football League) Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
San Francisco Giants Baseball National League (Major League Baseball) AT&T Park
Oakland Athletics Baseball American League (Major League Baseball) Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Golden State Warriors Basketball National Basketball Association Oracle Arena
San Jose Sharks Ice Hockey National Hockey League HP Pavilion at San Jose
San Jose Earthquakes Soccer Major League Soccer Buck Shaw Stadium
San Francisco Nighthawks Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League Kezar Stadium
San Jose SaberCats Football Arena Football League HP Pavilion at San Jose
San Jose Stealth Lacrosse National Lacrosse League HP Pavilion at San Jose
San Francisco Dragons Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse Spartan Stadium
San Jose Giants Baseball California League (Minor League Baseball) San Jose Municipal Stadium
FC Gold Pride Soccer Women's Professional Soccer Buck Shaw Stadium
NCAA Division I College Sports

[edit] Music

The San Francisco Bay Area was home to one of the biggest thrash metal scenes in the United States, along with Tampa Bay, Florida. Containing acts like Exodus, Death Angel, Vio-lence, Megadeth, Testament and Metallica (although Metallica had initially formed in Los Angeles, it wasn't until their relocation to the East Bay area in 1983 that Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett joined as bassist and lead guitarist, sealing the band's first, formative line-up), the Bay Area Thrash scene was a huge impact on the Thrash metal world, as well as the Death metal scene; as Possessed is considered as one of the first death metal bands.

One of the area's most notable acts was The Grateful Dead, formed in 1965, who played regularly at the legendary venue The Filmore.

The Bay Area saw a large punk movement from the 70s to the present. Bands such as the Dead Kennedys, The Avengers, Flipper, D.R.I., M.D.C. and Operation Ivy were popular in the '70s and '80s, with later bands such as Rancid, Green Day and AFI all coming out of Berkeley.

The Bay Area was the home of the hyphy movement, which started almost 10 years ago. The genre which was pioneered by rappers Andre "Mac Dre" Hicks, Too Short, Keak Da Sneak, and E-40, is now becoming more popular throughout the world. Hyphy themes such as ghost riding, thizzin' and going dumb are now common in other parts of the country. The Bay Area is also home to Hammer and the Hieroglyphics hip hop crew, which is composed of local artists including the Souls of Mischief and Del tha Funkee Homosapien.

[edit] Regional counties, cities and suburbs

An early 20th century German map

[edit] Counties

Note: San Benito County and Santa Cruz County are sometimes considered not part of the Bay Area.

[edit] Cities and municipalities

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ San Francisco Bay Area Vision Project
  2. ^ San Francisco Bay Area Vision Project
  3. ^
  4. ^ "US Census Bureau, household and per capita income during the 2000 Census in metro areas". Retrieved on 2007-06-01. 
  5. ^ "SF Chronicle, most democratic voting bloc in the state, 2003". Retrieved on 2007-06-12. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region (2) Boundaries Accessed 2007-02-20
  8. ^ "Find a park - San Francisco Bay Area Region". California State Parks. Retrieved on 2006-06-20. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Pleasanton tops county in median household income". Inside Bay Area. Retrieved on 2006-10-15. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Stanford University, study of US Department of Commerce statistics concerning income in California". Retrieved on 2006-11-06. 
  12. ^ a b c "US Census 2005 Economic Survey, income data". Retrieved on 2006-06-29. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ [1] "Assets".
  15. ^ a b "US Census Bureau, 2000 Census income data by congressional district".$50000US0601&-geo_id=500$50000US0606&-geo_id=500$50000US0607&-geo_id=500$50000US0608&-geo_id=500$50000US0609&-geo_id=500$50000US0610&-geo_id=500$50000US0612&-geo_id=500$50000US0613&-geo_id=500$50000US0614&-geo_id=500$50000US0615&-geo_id=500$50000US0616&-geo_id=500$50000US0617&-geo_id=500$50000US0623&-geo_id=500$50000US0624&-geo_id=500$50000US0630&-geo_id=500$50000US0633&-geo_id=500$50000US0634&-geo_id=500$50000US0635&-geo_id=500$50000US0636&-geo_id=500$50000US0637&-geo_id=500$50000US0638&-geo_id=500$50000US0639&-geo_id=500$50000US0640&-geo_id=500$50000US0644&-geo_id=500$50000US0646&-geo_id=500$50000US0647&-geo_id=500$50000US0648&-geo_id=500$50000US0649&-geo_id=500$50000US0650&-geo_id=500$50000US0653&-format=&-_lang=en. Retrieved on 2008-01-03. 
  16. ^ - Maps and information about Bay Area threats including earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.
  17. ^ Describes Bay Area damage from 1960 tsunami.
  18. ^ U.S. Census Bureau, 2003 American Community Survey, accessed November 5, 2007
  19. ^ 2002 American Community Survey, SELECTED POPULATION CHARACTERISTICIS FOR LARGE METROPOLITAN AREAS, accessed November 5, 2007

[edit] External links

[edit] Travel

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