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Bay Restoration

Is the region protecting San Francisco Bay from encroaching development?

The San Francisco Bay is the region's most prominent geographic feature and defines the region as the Bay Area. Yet just a half-century ago, rapid development patterns threatened its very existence as new developments like Foster City, Bay Farm Island and San Francisco International Airport relied on bay fill to create new land close to the region's center. While policies enacted in the 1960s and 1970s slowed this trend, preservation of the iconic Bay remains a key policy priority as conservation activities continue to restore the Bay and improve environmental conditions.Is the region protecting San Francisco Bay from encroaching development?

Updated: september 2017


have been restored in the last five years


of Bay Restoration activity since 1969 has occurred in the last 15 years


in total have been restored since 1969


Regional Performance

Rehabilitation of coastal areas has accelerated at unprecedented rates over the past decade.

Since 1969, the surface area of San Francisco Bay has grown by nearly 19,000 acres - a result of policies discouraging bay fill combined with rehabilitation projects that have restored wetlands all across the region. Remarkably, after a century characterized by bay fill, the 21st century has been quite beneficial for the Bay and its surrounding ecosystem with nearly 90 percent of those acres being restored since 2000. In particular, restoration projects in Sonoma County, Marin County and Solano County have played a key role in improving the Bay ecosystem during this time period. In an era of rising tides, these wetland buffers may prove critical in helping the region adapt to global climate change.

5,649 acres

were added to San Francisco Bay in 2001, the most of any year on record

Historical Trend for San Francisco Bay Acreage

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Sources & Methodology

Methodology Notes

BCDC defines the change in Bay acreage as "ocean area of the Bay created or restored, including salt ponds converted into tidal action, less the area of the Bay authorized to be filled pursuant to major permits and major consistency determinations through 1987." This definition includes any administrative amendments to the data.

mtc logoassociation of bay area governments logobay area air quality management district logosan francisco bay conservation and development commission logobay area regional collaborative logo

The Vital Signs initiative is led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

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