San Joaquin Valley Higher Density Residential Housing Market Study


In the discussion of smart growth and higher densities the question often arises, “But will it sell?”  This is a reasonable concern for developers, lenders and local governments. Developers are in a business that relies on creating a desirable and sellable product. Lenders only finance projects they believe will be successful.  Local governments want these products to contribute to quality, livable neighborhoods.  The idea of increasing residential densities is often rejected by elected officials, agency staffs, developers, lenders, and the general public. This rejection is often based upon myths associated with high density development or the lack of information. The objective of this request for proposals is to develop information and modeling which will provide those involved in the land use planning and project approval process with better access to factual information to inform their decisions. The principle objective of the study is to determine the market demand for higher density residential housing types such as small lot attached and detached single family residential, town homes, medium and high rise residential or mixed use developments, TODs, infill, multi- family residential, etc.  The Fresno Council of Governments (Fresno COG), on behalf of the eight valley Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs), contracted with the Concord Group, as the selected consultant, to determine the need and market demand for higher density residential housing types.



In early 2006 the eight Regional Planning Agencies (MPOs/RPAs) in the San Joaquin Valley came together in an unprecedented effort to develop a coordinated Valley vision – the San Joaquin Valley Regional Blueprint. This eight county venture, initially conducted in each county, was ultimately integrated to form a preferred vision for future development throughout the Valley to the year 2050.  The Blueprint is a bottom up, voluntary endeavor that is intended to engage and guide local agencies in their pursuit of sustainable development patterns within their own jurisdictions and throughout the Valley.

The Blueprint planning process - Eight individual Valley MPOs planning in unison

          Phase 1:  Values and Vision – gathered from community input

          Phase 2:  Goals, Objectives and Performance Measures based upon Values and Vision

          Phase 3:  Evaluation of alternative “what if” growth scenarios in each county.

          Phase 4:  Developed documents to memorialize the Blueprint planning process, suggest strategies for implementation and provide a toolkit to assist planners with integrating the Blueprint Smart Growth Principles into local planning processes.

On April 1, 2009, after a full vetting in each of the eight San Joaquin Valley Counties, the Regional Policy Council reviewed the Valley RPAs’ collaborative work on the Blueprint and took the following actions:

  • Adopted 12 Smart Growth Principles to be used as the basis of Blueprint planning in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Adopted Scenario B+, with an average density of 6.8 DUA, as the Preferred Blueprint Growth Scenario for the San Joaquin Valley to the year 2050.  This preferred scenario will serve as guidance for the Valley’s local jurisdictions with land use authority as they update their general plans.

Since its inception, the Blueprint planning process has been a bottom up and voluntary process.  Those assurances remain as the Valley Regional Planning Agencies move forward in their work with their member agencies to help integrate the Blueprint Smart Growth Principles into local planning processes.

In February 2010, the Valley RPAs entered into a contract to prepare three deliverables that comprise the Blueprint Roadmap: 

  • SJV Blueprint Planning Process Summary Report (September 2010)
  • SJV Blueprint Guidance Framework - accepted by the SJV Regional Policy Council August 31, 2011 (which includes Institutional Arrangements White Paper as an appendix)
  • SJV Blueprint – Planners Toolkit (web based) – available at

The purpose of the Blueprint Roadmap documents is to memorialize the Blueprint planning process and support the adoption of the San Joaquin Valley Regional Blueprint by the Regional Policy Council on April 1, 2009.  These resources are now available to facilitate the integration of the 12 Smart Growth Principles into local planning processes, should local governments with land use authority elect to do so.

In preparation of the fourth-year implementation work program of the Blueprint, the Fresno COG, in behalf of the MPOs, contracted with the Planning Center to develop demographic forecasts for the San Joaquin Valley, including each of the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley, to assist in determining the impact of various development densities on the fiscal health of cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley and identifying market demand for higher density residential housing projects associated with the Preferred Blueprint Growth Scenario.  These final demographic projections became available in the early summer of 2012.


Project Specifications and Scope 

Using the demographic data provided by the Planning Center, the Concord Group prepared a housing demand study for the San Joaquin Valley by product type and by location (county, urban, rural).  This analysis was performed through the creation of a dynamic excel-based model allowing various geographies to be analyzed simultaneously, including each of the eight San Joaquin Valley Counties (San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern), the four major metropolitan areas (Modesto, Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield) and the Valley’s rural areas and small cities (with populations less than 50,000).

The model includes analysis relating to current supply levels, current housing needs, projected future supply levels needed (for five year increments beginning in 2015 through 2040) and a supply analysis for the net shortfall/surplus of housing needs by type (single-family, multi-family, etc.) and tenure (owner, renter).  Also included is analysis relating to demographic, economic, social conditions and additional trends/forces that do/may impact current and future housing demands.

Both qualitative and quantitative information was used to complete the aforementioned analysis.  While the principle focus of this study was to identify the market demand for higher density housing types, the Housing Market Demand Analysis was also envisioned to provide local elected officials with additional housing needs information meant to assist them in making land use decisions affecting their local communities.  The completed report and model is intended to be used by other agencies and maintained as part of the Blueprint Toolkit.

11245.00 SJV Demand Model Final LOCKED.xlsm8.67 MB
SJV Demand Final Report 6.22.12.pdf2.04 MB