The Impact of the San Francisco Bay Area Housing Crisis on Regional Wildfire Vulnerability

The Impact of the San Francisco Bay Area Housing Crisis on Regional Wildfire Vulnerability

With the advent of climate change, novel weather conditions are causing nature-related disasters all over the world to become sharper in their intensity and frequency. The Mediterranean environment of Northern California is no exception to this rule. Northern California’s short, wet, and mild winters combined with its long, dry, and hot Summers create conditions ripe for wildfire to occur.

Previous research has shown that the annual burned area in California has increased fivefold from 1972-2018 due to new climatic conditions and that new housing being built in the state is disproportionately located in the wildland-urban interface. Furthermore, mass displacement is occurring due to a lack of affordable housing supply near coastal Bay Area job centers, inducing a large migration towards inland regions. Given the severity of these two crises, many regional commentators have postulated that there may be a common connection stemming from land-use.

In this paper we will show what is the effect of the ongoing housing of the San Francisco Bay Area on regional vulnerabilities to wildfires, with a particular focus on communities from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. We hope that any results gained will help policymakers better understand the climate vulnerability impacts of displacement and how to guide urban development around it.

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