Report Snapshot | Sustainable San Mateo County

Report Snapshot


  • In 2016, San Mateo County’s population was 753,123, an increase of 12,918 over the year prior.
  • Population growth includes a natural increase (number of births minus number of deaths) of 4,118 people and negative net migration (number of people moving in minus people moving out) of 375 residents.
  • By 2040, San Mateo County’s population is projected to grow by over 100,000 residents compared to 2015, while the Bay Area is projected to add an additional 1 million people.
  • Between 2014 and 2040, the age profile of the county is expected to change, with the share of residents 65 and older nearly doubling. There is also expected to be significant growth in the Hispanic/Latino population.


  • After three years of increases until 2012, the child abuse referral rate in the county fell to 24 referrals per 1,000 children, considerably lower than the state rate of 55.
  • The county’s violent crime rate decreased in 2014 (209 per 100,000 population), and was well below California’s (395).


  • Global weather measurements indicate that 2016 was the hottest year on record, while 2015 was the second hottest year.
  • Since 1900, sea level has risen 0.04 to 0.1 inches per year, a cumulative 8 inches in the Bay Area by 2015. Projections indicate a 55-inch sea level rise in San Mateo County by 2100.
  • Total county GHG emissions in 2013 were 5.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
  • In 2013, the three main sources of GHG emissions in the state were: transportation (37%), industrial (23%), and electricity generation (11%).


  • Fifty percent of adults (25+ years) in San Mateo County have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is higher than state and national rates but below San Francisco County and Santa Clara County.
  • Twelve percent of the county’s workforce is employed in STEM-related fields versus 5% for the U.S. and 6% for California.
  • As of January 2016, 133 companies in the county had been certified as green businesses under the San Mateo County Green Business Program. This is a 75% increase from January 2014.
  • Total Venture Capital (VC) investment in Silicon Valley in 2015 was $26 billion, a 12% decrease from the year prior.
  • Total taxable sales in 2015 (the latest year for which data are available) were $15.9 billion, a slight decrease from the year prior.


  • There were 95,602 students enrolled in San Mateo County public schools in the 2016-2017 Academic Year. Hispanic/Latino students comprise 38% of county public school enrollment; white students make up 28%, and Asian students 14%.
  • Nearly one in four public school students in the county are classified as an English learner. Statewide, English learners score lower on California Standards Tests.
  • After many years of budget cuts for California public schools, a 2012 statewide tax initiative and an increase in capital gains tax have helped to restore funding levels.
  • There are vast discrepancies in the county in public school funding, ranging from a low of $8,812 per pupil in the Millbrae Elementary School District to a high of $25,901 in the Woodside Elementary School District. The state’s new Local Control Funding Formula should provide more equitable school financing and channel more money to those students most in need.
  • Socioeconomically disadvantaged children continue to lag behind their better-off peers.
  • San Mateo County’s high school graduation rate (88%) is among the highest in the state and the drop-out rate continues to fall. Although the county’s overall dropout rate is low, significant disparities exist by race/ethnicity.
  • Over half of San Mateo County high school graduates have completed the required courses for entrance into University of California or California State University schools with a grade of “C” or better, ranking the county fourth highest in the Bay Area behind Marin (61%), San Francisco (60%), and Alameda (55%).


  • Total energy use in the county in 2016 was 34.78 trillion British thermal units (Btu), a slight increase from the prior year.
  • In 2016, almost all of the power in San Mateo County was purchased from PG&E, with the exception of 79,982 customers that purchased electricity from Peninsula Clean Energy beginning in October 2016.
  • In 2016, 33% of the PG&E energy mix came from renewable sources. This meets California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goal for 2020.
  • As of January 2013, 17 of the 20 cities and the county itself have approved Green Building ordinances, requiring new construction as well as major renovations to meet certain minimum green rating levels.


  • The number of uninsured residents decreased to 8.1% in 2015 from 10.2% in 2014.
  • The prevalence of asthma and diabetes increased significantly from 1998 to 2013. Currently, 18% of county residents have asthma, while 10% are diabetic.
  • Heart disease and cancer remain the most frequent causes of death in the county. Mortality by race/ethnicity shows that the gap between African Americans and other groups is narrowing.
  • The county met the Healthy People 2020 National Standard for age-adjusted death rate for all causes of death.
  • San Mateo County achieved the Healthy People 2020 target of 6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in all racial/ethnic groups except African Americans (9.8 deaths per 1,000.)
  • Obesity has risen to 22% among adults in 2013.
  • Only 36% of the county’s 7th graders met all 6 Basic Fitness Standards in 2010-2011, down from 41% in 2008-2009.
  • The smoking rate in San Mateo County (10.1%) has declined sharply since 1998 and is well below California (12.9%) and U.S. (17.3%) levels.


  • Housing prices have increased drastically over the past five years. In 2016, the median sales price (MSP) for a single family home was $1,300,000, an increase of 1% from 2015 and 66% from 2011.
  • In 2016, the average asking rent for a 1-bedroom unit was $2,684, while market average rent for a 2-bedroom unit climbed to $3,318.
  • In 2016, 33% of households in the county with a mortgage paid more than 35% of their income on housing.
  • Nearly 43% of the county’s housing stock was built before 1959, and only 23% has been built since 1980. This makes the county’s housing stock considerably older than California’s average.
  • The most recent Regional Housing Needs Allocation production target for San Mateo County is 16,418 new housing units between 2015 and 2023, with 43% of these required to be affordable housing (very-low and low income), 17% for moderate income, and 40% for above moderate income.
  • Woodside and Hillsborough were the only two cities to exceed the RHNA projected housing needs between 2007 and 2014. Foster City, Redwood City, and San Bruno built at least 50% of their RHNA projected housing needs as well.
  • Between 2007 and 2014, 56% of the housing built in San Mateo County was at market rate.
  • Housing construction is on the rise after reaching a low point in 2010. In 2016, 1553 building permits were issued in San Mateo County, up 4.6% from the year prior. Multi-family housing units made up 77.5% of these permits, slightly higher than the 64% of multi-housing units the year prior. New housing construction will need to increase significantly in the coming years to meet the production targets of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
  • Between 2015 and 2016, 5,241 residents migrated outside of the county, while home and apartment prices continue to rise. Though the median income has increased, lower income residents are getting priced out of the county.
  • The 2017 San Mateo County Homeless Census and Survey counted a total of 1,552 homeless, a 12% decrease from 2015. Of these homeless, 41% were unsheltered (living in cars, homeless encampments, or on the streets).
  • The San Mateo County Human Services Agency has implemented several programs to decrease homelessness towards the county’s goals of zero unsheltered homeless by 2020 and zero homeless veterans.


  • Of San Mateo County land, 68% is non-urban and 32% is urban.
  • The cities and unincorporated county have taken numerous steps to create more sustainable land use policies. As of May 2016, each area has adopted a Complete Streets resolution, 71% had an adopted Climate Action Plan (CAP), and the remaining 29% were in the process of developing a CAP.
  • San Mateo County has the second highest percentage of total land protected in the Bay Area (42%). Marin has the highest (64%).


  • In 2016, employment in the county rose by 2.9% compared to the previous year, a smaller increase compared to the growth in 2015, which showed a 3.2% gain.
  • Unemployment fell to 3% in San Mateo County and 5.4% for California in 2016.
  • The San Mateo County poverty rate for families with children decreased by 7.6% between 2015 and 2016, and the poverty rate for single, female headed families decreased by 30%.
  • In 2016, the poverty rate for San Mateo County was 6.5%, well below state (14.3%) and national (14.0%) rates.
  • The child poverty rate for the county is 5.5% but rises to 19% for children in single-parent households headed by a female.


  • In 2017, BART and Caltrain ridership has continued to increase, both operators saw a 3% increase compared to the year prior.
  • Compared with the United States, San Mateo County has a larger share of transit commuters and a lower share of those driving alone.
  • San Francisco County, with its extensive public transit system and dense development near workplaces, has dramatically different commute modes.
  • Though both vehicle miles traveled and vehicle fuel consumption have increased since the economic downturn of 2008, fuel consumption has leveled in recent years.
  • Between 2014 and 2005, gas prices increased by 48%.


  • The largest source of pollution in our waterways is storm water runoff, which carries untreated contaminants like motor oil, animal waste, pesticides, and sometimes sewage directly from our streets to our beaches. In water year 2016 (running from 10/1/2015-9/30/2016), over 1,658,316 gallons of raw or partially-treated sewage spilled in San Mateo County, less than the 1,880,528 gallons that spilled in water year 2015.
  • San Mateo County’s population has grown steadily since 2006; however, total water consumption has decreased by over 14 million gallons per day since its peak in 2000.
  • In 2016, 84% of monitored days in San Mateo County had “Good” air quality as rated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI).
  • Total water usage in San Mateo County in 2015-16 was 27.8 million gallons per day.
  • The county receives 90% of its water supply from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). SFPUC receives on average 85% of its water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park and the remainder from local Bay Area watersheds.
  • Residential consumption accounts for 63% of water usage in the county, with the majority of this usage for single family homes.
  • In 2016, there were 597,071 tons of solid waste generated in San Mateo County, up 2.2% from the year prior.
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