Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sunnyvale, CA Population Density - II

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This is part II, see also part I here:

In examining population density it may be helpful to compare it to the surrounding area to see if any conclusions can be drawn based on density.  Current Mayor Jim Griffith mentioned in the League of Women Voters' Oct. 2013 candidate's forum that he thought Sunnyvale should have 200,000 people to accommodate all the office space here.  I put that in the table and charts as Sunnyvale+50%.  Since so much more office space has been or is about to be approved since the election, I also included a doubling of Sunnyvale's population to accommodate all the new office jobs as Sunnyvale+100%. Here are selected cities around San Francisco Bay with their populations and density/square mile:

City or Urban Area Land Area in Sq. Miles Population Density per sq mi
San Francisco 47       825,111   17,620
Sunnyvale + 100% 22       280,162   12,400
Berkeley 10       112,580   10,752
Sunnyvale + 50% 22       210,122     9,300
Oakland 58       400,740     7,181
Alameda 11         73,812     6,956
Campbell 6         39,349     6,700
San Leandro 13         84,950     6,367
Santa Clara 18       116,468     6,300
Sunnyvale (2010)  22       140,081     6,200
Mountain View 12         74,066     6,172
San Jose (City) 177       984,299     5,576
Milpitas 14         66,790     4,900
San Jose Metro Area 448    1,894,388     4,228
Concord 31       122,067     4,000
Redwood City 35         76,815     3,956
Union City 19         71,763     3,700
Menlo Park 10         32,026     3,271
Walnut Creek 20         64,173     3,200
Newark 14         42,573     3,068
Palo Alto 24         64,403     2,500
Fremont 77       214,089     2,400
Saratoga 12         29,926     2,400
Hayward 45       144,186     2,300
SF Bay Area 6,984    7,150,000     1,023

The data is graphed below:
(Note Berkeley is denser than most but that may be because students live in very compact quarters.)

It is hard to see any correlation between population density and any urban characteristic such as safety, shopping availability, or public transport.  

BART serves Concord, Fremont and other cities in the East Bay which have much less density than Sunnyvale has now (2010 census).  It is not density but political will that is lacking to get BART to serve San Jose, Sunnyvale, and other nearby communities.

Does anyone want to seriously argue that increased density implies increased safety?  Oakland is denser than Palo Alto.

Is shopping better in dense Oakland compared to not-dense Palo Alto?

One can argue whether increased density is desirable or not but arguing that increasing density necessarily leads to better public transport, lower crime, or better or more convenient shopping should come up with some data confirming their hypothesis.  Nothing in the above data confirms a correlation between density and much of anything.

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