JEREMY HOFFMAN So, I’m Jeremy Hoffman. I’m a software engineer here. I’ve lived and worked in Mountain View for six years. And for most of that time, I didn’t give much thought to the factors shaping the Bay Area, why housing is where it is and not in other places and why jobs are where they are, and not in other places, and how people get from those jobs to work. Why do people drive instead of walking, or biking, or taking public transit Until, luckily for me this June I.
Attended a public forum here in Mountain View where Egon here spoke about all the factors that shape housing and transit and really opened my eyes to all this stuff. And I thought his information and his analysis and insights were so great that I got really excited about sharing it with more people. So thank you so much for coming. I think this is going to be a great talk. Egon has a lot of great information for us. I’ll give you a little bit of a background about Egon.
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College, earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. For five years he worked with ICF International, where he advised cities and regions on economic development, everywhere from California to Louisiana, Ohio, Nigeria, Canada, Argentina, Bosnia. And now Egon is regional planning director up in San Francisco at the organization SPUR. He writes reports and he’s done policy studies about regional planning, economic development, land use planning, transportation, high speed rail in California. We’re really lucky to have him here today.
Egon Terplan The Bay Areas Housing and Transit Problem Talks at Google
So please join me in welcoming to Google Egon Terplan. APPLAUSE EGON TERPLAN Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Jeremy. Thank you very much Google for having me here. Can everyone hear me fine in the back of the room Great. It’s really a pleasure to be here. I actually haven’t been at Google in a couple of years since I took my students. I was teaching a San Jose State up, and we met with Kevin Mathy and his team. And it was, I think, a time when a bunch of the new bikes.
Were coming in. So it’s great to be back. I’m glad a lot of you came out. Just as a quick starting point, how many people here in the room live in Mountain View, live in the town of Mountain View How about, how many people here live in Palo Alto How about anywhere else in Santa Clara county So a lot of you. And how many people live north, live in San Mateo county So a smaller number, all right. That’s tells us a little bit of something. Not about you, but San Mateo county.
Doesn’t have a tremendous amount of new housing. How about San Francisco How many people live in San Francisco OK, a healthy amount as well. Well, good. So actually, anywhere else East Bay, beyond OK, so a smaller smattering. So you represent a spectrum of different places within the region. We’re going to try to touch on a number of those things here now. So I’m Egon Terplan, as Jeremy said, the regional planning director at SPUR. I’m going to say a word to about SPUR, but just as a starting point, it’s fun.
To be here talking about these issues now. And as I was reflecting upon this, has anyone here heard of AnnaLee Saxenian Ooh, quiet in the room. So AnnaLee Saxenian’s one of the great writers on the history of Silicon Valley and wrote a classic book comparing Silicon Valley with Boston’s Route 128, and tried to understand, why did Silicon Valley grow the way it did And it’s very interesting, about a bunch of factors in how companies are structured. But she had written her master’s thesis in the early ’80s saying, Silicon Valley’s over.
It is too expensive. It is too congested. No one’s going to come here anymore, and no one’s going to start companies. And that was right before the Apple II Plus. She was wrong, clearly. The question, though, is at what point do the issues with housing affordability, underinvestment and transportation, some of the challenges with the local government policy making on land use become really profound, competitive factors that affect the regional economy And I don’t think we know quite the answer, but we’re certainly getting to some of the moments that could be choking points.
So what I’m going to do today is very quickly say a word or two about SPUR, who we are as an organization, and then go through a number of pieces, a little bit on the growth context of the Bay Area. When I say the region, I mean the Bay Area. I don’t mean the South Bay or Silicon Valley. I mean the ninecounty Bay Area. Then talk about the sort of problems that we’re confronting. Some of the answers about why the problems exist, and then some solutions. All of that in about I don’t know, let’s see, 27 minutes.
So that we have some chance to hear from some other folks here that are engaged on local issues, as well as take your questions for the conversation. So quickly, who is SPUR So SPUR is an organization that is based in San Francisco and San Jose. This is our urban center in San Francisco, been around for 100 years. We’re an urban civic group focused on good planning and good government. We write policy papers on a wide range of issues facing cities and regions. How many people here have heard of SPUR before.
A healthy number. Well, those of you that haven’t, now you know a little bit about SPUR. I encourage you to come. Come to the urban center in San Francisco on Mission Street. We have a number of activities there. I will show you a photograph of our San Jose office as well, where we also have a number of lunchtime events and forums. That’s the room where we have discussions in the San Francisco office as well. We engage people in a variety of ways through research we write our papers through education, in going.
Out and talking to people, and engaging them, and through advocacy as well at times. Our work our offices, as we will see in just a moment there’s the San Francisco Urban Center on Mission Street. We have a San Jose one located on First Street, right on the Light rail line. So when you come to downtown San Jose, stop by there as well. And we’re now moving in a direction of considering opening an office in Oakland. And part of the idea is, these are the three central cities.
Of the Bay Area San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. What happens in those central cities shapes the region. It doesn’t shape all of it and we’re going to talk some about the other cities in the Bay Area today but those three central cities have a very big responsibility for what happens within the region. So let me talk about that regional context just for a moment. And as I said, the region is the ninecounty Bay Area. We are right now in the midst of considering a long range.
Plan that was adopted a year ago. And the long range plan is trying to understand, how do we accommodate the next two million people in population This is the expected growth. You can see the projections out to 2040 across each of the counties. So that’s the growth in population that we’re expecting. But we’re trying to do so in a way that reduces per capita greenhouse gas emissions. That means that the new people have to drive less. They have to have a different behavior on average from the people that have been here historically.
And this is part of a state mandate to respond to climate change through changing how we live, changing where our workplaces are, houses are, and how we travel around. And so you can see, we’re supposed to reduce it by 15 in 2035. But part of that overall vision is considering, how do we accommodate housing for workers at all income levels Meaning, building housing for people who can afford the market rate homes as well as people that don’t have as much money and can’t afford the price of the market rate home.
And anyone who’s been in the rental market, who’s been in the housing market, understands how expensive that specific market rate is. That is the regional context of the broad based thing. And the vision is to try to put that growth closer and closer to the existing transit infrastructure. So first of all, the job goals are to get 38 of the jobs in the three central cities. And then you can see the list of the top 15 jurisdictions where the growth might go. So notice Palo Alto, which is ranked number 6 in job growth,.
And Mountain View as 15. This is the job growth projections. When we turn to housing, interestingly Palo Alto disappears from the top 15 cities of where housing growth might go. Now Mountain View is still there as 15th, but Palo Alto is not there as well. And that starts to tell you something, a little bit about the relationship between job growth and housing, that the places that are assuming a tremendous amount of job growth perhaps, I would argue, have a little bit of a responsibility also to try to find some housing for the workers that.
Are coming there. So this data exists for cities all across the entire region. So let’s understand and drill down a little bit. We’ll take questions at the end, so mark them down. Let’s drill down a little bit into the problems that are associated with this. Housing costs too much. It’s very expensive. OK, that’s not a particular surprise. But what you start see here is, this is just the San Francisco medianpriced home. You can see how we’re getting further and further away from California and the federal figure in terms.
Of housing prices. And actually, just comparing to a city like Portland, Portland’s certainly much cheaper than the Bay Area and much cheaper than San Francisco. But you can see that it was much closer back in the mid ’90s. Again, the difference is getting greater between some of the Bay Area cities and other places. Right now we’re at a particular moment where properties, when they’re put on the market, are sold extremely quickly. So Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose right there and this is earlier this year, it’s.
Gotten even more accelerated in the past couple of months not only are the home prices growing faster than almost anywhere else, but they’re practically staying on the market for hardly any time. So the difference between this region and other parts of the United States is getting greater on this particular account. Let’s think a little bit about some of the economic factors though that are also under play. And we’re doing a lot of work right now on this question of access to middle wage opportunities in the region.
And what we have, like many regions we have growth in jobs at the high end, growth in jobs at the low end, but a much smaller middle. And so one of the profound challenges and we say this because people are surprised often that over 36 of all workers today earn less than $18 an hour in the Bay Area. And that figure is in fact likely to grow, because the opportunities to move those people to jobs that pay $25 an hour, $28 an hour is getting harder because there’s fewer of those jobs.
Were working on it. We’re trying to consider it. And one of the great ways, actually, to create some of those middle wage jobs has to do with infrastructure investment, housing construction, other development related to that. But right now, that’s a specific problem, and it’s an economic problem. There’s also an environment broadly, nationally where there’s an increase in the number of renters. And that’s a trend that’s happened since the housing bubble burst. A lot of people are choosing to rent instead of to own. On some national data, there are renters.
That are facing income declines. So that’s been a concern. It’s not a concern across the board with all renters, but that’s something that people are starting to see in some places. But the issue is, all workers across the income spectrum are feeling this crunch, are paying more for housing. And that’s a big, big consideration across lots of households. And I’m sure everybody here who’s confronted the housing market recently has seen that as well. The last piece of the problem puzzle is just the fact that primarily most people.
Get to and from work by driving. And so what that means is that the roads are congested. And congestion’s a good thing to the extent that it shows a lot of activity and people want to get around. A place that has no congestion might mean there’s not a strong economy and during the recession there was less congestion in this region. But when most people are getting around driving, that certainly has an impact on overall mobility. And for people that don’t have access to an automobile, that’s a challenge.
So let’s get to some of the answers. Why is it that housing’s so expensive First most obvious one is we’re not building enough housing. You would think it’s simple. But going back to the 1950s to 1980s, that was the big growth of the Bay Area. That was the postwar boom. That was when this region really became an industrial powerhouse first during World War II, the early rise of Silicon Valley, the postwar boom in the East Bay with a lot of the manufacturing, and the conversion of San Francisco.
Into a corporate headquarters and environment. Silicon Valley then, of course, became a corporate headquarters environment as well, and we responded by building lots of housing. We then also had a lot of job growth. That all turned around about 1980. And yes, there’s been job growth since then. The percent growth slowed down dramatically. But one of the factors is actually that we didn’t continue to produce as much housing after 1980. And this little thing called prop 13 everyone heard of prop 13 before Some of you haven’t, which is fine.
It was passed in the late ’70s to essentially freeze property taxes at the point of sale. What it effectively did was, for many local governments, they lost a tremendous amount of revenue. And it changed how they thought about new development going forward. And a lot of them didn’t think housing would pay as much in taxes as jobs. And so it led a lot of communities to not favor housing as much and why a lot of them really like shopping centers. Because shopping centers bring sales taxes. Office buildings add property taxes to the roles,.
But it’s really shopping centers, auto malls, those are the things that fund a lot of local government. So that changed in California in the late ’70s. And since then we’ve really entered this period of not producing as much housing. And that’s the world that we’re in today. So you can see it particularly pronounced in San Francisco. And we’ve estimated that 5,000 units a year is about what San Francisco could do, or ought to be doing. And you can see that San Francisco has effectively never reached that.
It was sort of a blip for the moment, but those were authorized, not actually constructed. It’s growing again now, but this is something where, over time, your housing problems don’t happen in one year. They’re chronic when over decades you’re underproducing. This is probably one of the most important points though to make. I said we don’t build enough, but supply matters. And it really matters when you compare us to the rest of the country. There are essentially two kinds of inexpensive housing markets in the United States, places with not very strong.
Economies let’s say politely and places that build a lot of housing. There’s no place with a strong economy that doesn’t build a lot of housing. Look at where we are. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and then near us are Honolulu and Orange County. These are outliers on a national context. So it really is a key factor in where we go. And what you’re seeing is how much was built. Over to the left, we haven’t built a lot. And up here is the meeting asking price per square foot.
On a comparative basis. Looking just at one year as a snapshot, I said that’s not a best way to do it, but just to understand last year. The biggest place building housing is San Jose, then San Francisco and interestingly enough, Dublin, Dublin in the East Bay. If you go out there, there’s a Bart Station there. You see a whole number of five story apartment buildings going up. Now, they can’t on their own solve the regional housing challenge because they’re in a housing market where people are picking and choosing.
But when one city does it and you don’t see other cities of that scale doing it, that’s what adds up to the regional challenge. And you can see Mountain View produced 37 housing units in 2013 and Palo Alto less than 100. Very small numbers. Now, some of this is a blip because a particular project might come forward when the calendar year changes. But the idea is that the bulk of the housing production’s not happening in cities that have had a significant amount of job growth. There’s also a challenge when we look at the low income housing,.
Or the housing where people that can’t afford the market price. Very little of that has been built. And those of you that might follow the redevelopment system, we eliminated redevelopment in California. That was a major source of funding for housing for people that couldn’t afford market rate housing. It’s gone. So that side of it has also been exacerbated in the last couple of years. So part two, why is housing so expensive when we make it difficult to add housing How do we make it difficult to add housing.
Well, let’s go back in time again a little bit to that postwar era. We’re coming out, and there was this thing called urban renewal that happened in a number of cities in a lot of neighborhoods throughout San Francisco and throughout Oakland. Parts of downtown San Jose were torn out, were destroyed. So housing units were lost. It happened in whole numbers of neighborhoods throughout the city, but it also happened in the downtown core. Anyone recognize this It’s now the Yerba Buena Center by the Moscone Center right there in downtown on Mission Street.
The church is there. So this was the building of it, but this had been, formerly, housing. All gone. So there’s a whole history on urban renewal. We don’t need to get into that. I’m making a simple point that a tremendous number of housing units were lost during that period of time. What that also led to, in part was a backlash to growth and development. And this was particularly stark in San Francisco, where there were attempts to try to cap the heights of buildings in the city to four or five stories.
And in fact after the early ’70s, residential heights in San Francisco were almost universally capped at 40 feet, which is four stories, with a few exceptions one of them being downtown and that had to do with the building at the foot of Van Ness called the Fontana Towers. And if you ever see it, these sort of two partially curved modernist towers facing right by Ghirardelli Square, right by the waterfront. So this backlash to growth is still with us today, and it was a response to a number of changes.
But just from a political perspective, there was a ballot measure in San Francisco to protect the waterfront was the name of it. It led to the fact that now anything that needs to be built on the waterfront has to go through a ballot measure. So that’s now a new law in San Francisco that is going to have a direct effect on the number of housing units that could be built on various portions of the waterfront, around the Giants’ stadium. But this isn’t just a San Francisco issue.
This backlash to growth is something that happens in a number of places. And Palo Alto voters in 2013 passed something called Measure D where they rejected a specific project, an affordable senior housing project in Palo Alto. So that one specific event didn’t transform the housing market, but these kinds of decisions are happening all the time. Whether they’re at the ballot box, or they’re at the planning commission, or they’re at a City Council hearing, those decisions are the ones in the aggregate that make it very difficult to add housing.
And each community seems to have a different reason for doing it, but they all come somehow in the direction of saying, no. Some places will say, well, we like our neighborhood character. That’s going to change our neighborhood character. We don’t want that. Other places say, well, we don’t want to see the traffic go up. It’s going to make the streets too full. They won’t be safe. Others say, well, it’s going to impact city services. Where’s the water going to come from We have to come up with new sewer systems.
And there’s a point. It’s not that these aren’t entirely without validity. It’s just that the aggregate of all of these terms concerns about gentrification, concerns about a definition of urban to suburban, which was something in Marin County that had them think they had to approve things of a certain density. The aggregate of all these changes leads to saying no to growth. And then we get to the regulatory process. There are a lot of smart people in the room who can probably do fantastic things. I would challenge you to be able to build.
A building through the planning process, because it’s not just actually if it were this easy to follow the little path and go through it, that would be one thing. But then mixed on top of this, of course, is the political process and the series of issues that you have to get through. So it’s complicated and it’s expensive. We did a little back of the envelope calculation of what it would cost to build new units. And this was just the starting point for an 80square foot unit in San Francisco.
You start with the cost of land, $120,000, construction cost $240,000. $300 a square foot’s probably conservative. There’s a subsidy for the below market rate units if you’re doing a certain number. And then the other pieces, the permits and fees, selling expenses. And that’s not taking into account risk, that’s not taking into account the bank issues, a whole variety of things. It’s expensive to build housing. There’s also then the issue of part three about jobs and housing. And this is one that’s a little bit complicated. Communities prefer jobs to housing.
But to the extent that they’re supportive of jobs many places are they’re often not as supportive of jobs in the core of their cities around transit. So if you look at just some of the numbers here, jurisdictions like jobs, housing not so much. Santa Clara county, 926,000 jobs, 631,000 housing units. And it’s flipped in some of the East Bay communities that are more housing rich. If you look out to Contra Costa county, it’s different there. So part of this I mentioned before, after Prop 13, the perception is that jobs bring in more in taxes.
And workers consume less in city services. Those of you that don’t live in Mountain View aren’t consuming much in Mountain View services fire, police, library services, parks. You’re here most of the time during the day, and the same is true across job centers throughout the region. The other issue is that tax receipts are inequitably distributed. Just look over here at Palo Alto, San Jose, and Santa Clara. Palo Alto and Santa Clara are job rich. They have high tax receipts per capita. San Jose is housing rich, and they.
Have low tax receipts per capita. And this affects the politics of those places, because San Jose is really trying to figure out how to bring in jobs so they can become more in balance themselves. And this is ultimately the point of all of these things I’m trying to raise is that we’re in this together as a region. This is not Palo Alto’s issue or San Jose’s issue. It’s the Bay Area’s issue. But individual cities are the ones that are making the calls about what happens at their communities.
So this is the new SurveyMonkey building across the street from the Palo Alto Caltrain station in downtown. It’s a lovely building. It’s only four stories. Now, it’s a nice building. I’m posing this somewhat rhetorically. I have an opinion, leave it to you. Is four stories sufficient density directly around transit And I heard from Adina that they actually were required to add significantly more parking then they wanted to. But only 30 of the people arrive there by car. So they have all these extra parking spaces that they were forced to build which drives up.
The cost of the building. So you can get people, when their jobs are right next to transit a lot of them are going to take transit. But the communities are limiting the amount of job space. And this is the most expensive real estate market in the region is downtown Palo Alto. But that limit on zoning is also here in downtown Mountain View. And it’s at almost every single one of the Caltrain stops up and down the peninsula and throughout the South Bay. You can’t come in and plop a million square foot.
Office building right in the downtown, even though those communities want jobs. And then this fall, Menlo Park’s going to have another ballot measure about limiting growth, almost exclusively limiting office growth in their downtown core. It’s going to affect retail as well. It doesn’t directly affect housing so much, but part of the issue is these communities are trying to put a stop on lots of things that they don’t want to become which, for Menlo Park’s case, I guess is Sunnyvale. That’s the thing. So part of this is that it’s not that much of a surprise.
That a lot of the major firms, like where we’re sitting now, aren’t located directly around transit. That the communities that these companies are in that provide jobs and that have these contributions to the region simply wouldn’t permit this amount of commercial square footage in their downtown core, although there are some regional benefits of being directly around transit. And that’s a fundamental challenge that we face right there. The other side though is when you talk to people about transitoriented development. Who here has heart that term, transitoriented development.
Do you think of housing with maybe a coffee shop underneath when you hear that term That’s sort of what transitoriented development has become. That’s great. That’s a wonderful idea. We should have a lot more of that in our region. But transitoriented development could also be office space in a core next to a rail stop. That’s also an equally valid idea for transitoriented development. And when we look at the data on this, it shows that people are more likely to take transit if their job is right next to that transit.
Now, if their housing and their job is next to transit, they’re even more likely. But job alone is more important than just housing. And what this means is that what happens right around rail stops in particular is extremely important from a job perspective, from a regional perspective. And this has not changed over time. This has really been that way for a long time. So throughout the Bay Area, most jobs are located near freeway offramps and only a quarter of jobs are around regional rail. And so some of that are a series of historical factors.
With highways and other things. But some of those are those local zoning decisions. And where it’s light or orange is in fact where there’s available space to build. There’s not a lot of density around those particular rail stops. We also know from an income analysis that people are traveling more to get to better jobs. So better regional mobility is, in fact, a way to going back to the question of how do we connect lower wage workers to good jobs, better regional mobility gets them that way. And this is a trend across the whole region.
But the problem is that we have this transit system throughout the Bay Area that’s not quite a system. It’s 27 basically independent operators. And this is probably a nice way of how it looks. This looks like they all reasonably connect together. We’ve been trying to show this in a way that really makes the problem worse. And it looks relatively even. But the problem with that evenness is that we don’t live just in one county. Think of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. They bleed together. We’re part of one urbanized corridor.
Now, people may not like the word urbanized. Let’s just call it one corridor where people are traveling back and forth. But we don’t have a transit system that allows people to support that, so it becomes a big regional challenge if you’re trying to get from, say, Walnut Creek to here, or lots of trips within the Bay Area. So we know most people drive alone to work. And in fact, you guys are on here in this particular chart. The drive alone rate to this campus is almost comparable to downtown San Francisco.
So location is not an entirely you can, through a lot of the programs Google has offered, get to a drive alone rate which is similar to the most transitoriented environments. It requires the shuttle programs and the transportation demand management that you guys have done here, which are fabulous. But most of the rest of the region doesn’t have that, doesn’t have those types of amenities. So on a regional scale, most people are driving to work. And so we have this. We have people driving long distances, we have growing congestion, lots of incommuting.
The other side that it’s getting worse with a capacity issue is on transit. And Caltrain anyone here that rides Caltrain has seen it, it’s growing and growing. And that’s fabulous, but we need to invest in it in order to make sure it’s going to be around there. And investment is a bunch of factors. And if you have questions, Adina can answer those really at the end. But it’s around electrification, and new cars, and train control systems that make it work. And BART has the same issue. So the regional rail systems in the Bay Area.
Are very competitive with the automobile. I’ll mention shuttles briefly, just say what about shuttles. Shuttles are not the problem, they’re the symptom. It’s really about local land use, as I’ve been trying to say, that the local land use decisions that limit housing near where people work, limit jobs in the dense cores of places, the shuttles become a very effective solution to that. Yes, it’s about employee recruitment and retention, and it’s great in that regard. But from a land use perspective, that’s at least how I see this particular issue.
So that last mile problem is what we have so much of. Those red splotches are office buildings near rail transit and the blue ones are those that are more than a half mile. And that’s the geography of this region. And it’s not going to fundamentally change. What’s going to change is the density of those office spaces, the extent to which housing is allowed in those office spaces, and the extent to which those rail places become more of job centers and have more housing around. Those are the factors that we can really.
Think about changing. So let’s quickly get to a couple of solutions so we can be optimistic and then take your questions. One of them is around the provision of affordable housing. This is not something where just building housing of any kind is going to entirely solve it. Lots of people will not be able to afford market price housing at any rate. So we need to do that, and there’s a challenge in this region because, as I said, redevelopment’s gone and the sources of that have gone away.
And it’s very expensive to build affordable housing. So you can see the cost of 1,000 homes, 10,000, and 100,000 homes. So we have to come up with new sources that broaden this so it’s not just new development that’s paying for affordable housing. So that’s one piece of the particular puzzle. We’re also thinking about renters and existing tenants. And there are some places that have good tenant protections and others don’t. And that’s an important piece of the puzzle as well. The next piece his neighborhood planning. So thinking about where growth can take place,.
Doing a neighborhood planning process so places are allowed to grow. And part of that relates to reforming how we build housing and how we permit it, but the places that have gone through good planning processes are able to grow. These are some of the big areas in San Francisco. And that mark at Octavia, that green one, those 6,000 units, a lot of those are happening right now. This is the job growth. But I wanted to get to some photographs of what we’re seeing the growth happen in San Francisco along Market Street.
That is the product of neighborhood planning. So as each building comes forward, people aren’t protesting it because the agreements were made long before. It’s difficult, it’s expensive, but ultimately it leads to the creation of lots of development and buildings like this which have zero parking. And this is actually an affordable housing project developed by David Baker. So beautiful things that are contributing to the overall community there. The third piece then relates to allowing more growth in some of the existing communities that we have. This thing called secondary units.
So people can have a backyard unit that they add to their home. You could add a third to the San Francisco housing count by doing it. And this is the zoning map for the City of Mountain View. And if you can see this light yellowish color here, that’s single family residential. That means nothing but one single home. So you can’t have a secondary unit. So individual communities if we looked at the communities that are around here or Palo Alto, you name it San Francisco, too. Almost the entire western half of San Francisco.
Has limitations like this. It means you can’t add apartment buildings, you can’t add secondary units. That is limiting the total availability of housing. So I bet a lot of you are actually renting homes, single family homes, in some of these places and sharing them with roommates. That becomes a solution when you don’t have that flexibility in the zoning code. It goes back to the powers that we’ve given to cities to police themselves. The next solution is to upzone around transit. I mentioned this. We can allow people to build more.
On top of the existing transit stations. There are places like North Berkeley where nothing has been built since BART went in. BART comes in, it’s underground, and you’ve got this lovely Bart station. Great regional accessibility and zero new housing in 40 years. And this might be this way for another 25 years, because there’s nothing to compel Berkeley as a city and the residents of that community to allow housing on those parking lots. And think about how many parking lots are around a lot of transit stations. Think about all of those as opportunities.
Where people could have existing homes. Then there’s the job question around regional transit. In downtown San Francisco in the trans Bay zoning is a place where there’s a significant amount of dense employment that’s going in around what hopes to be the northern terminus of high speed rail and Caltrain. Some of those towers are residential as well, but those kinds of spots are important for development. Then there’s new locations, places where we haven’t had housing historically. We can add. Let me get to a clearer version of that.
Which is Treasure Island. This is a place that’s planned for thousands of units of housing. Yes, there is sea level rise. We’re aware of that. This is going to be planned hopefully with enough of a buffer around that. But that’s a Bay Area issue as well. Sea level rise is not unique to Treasure Island. It’s not going to be unique to the Hunter’s Point shipyards. But again, these are places where there’s a significant amount of growth that can, and we’re moving forward with developing them. Then there’s the question of the corporate campus.
So we’re in certainly a corporate campus. And there’s been a lot of thinking here about the vision. This is the proposed Samsung campus that’s currently under construction on San Jose on North First Street. But the traditional model of the building surrounded by parking lots, in some ways, we’ve moved away from that. And so what we want to see are environments that could be transformative. I don’t know if anyone happened to catch these. Someone went through and said, well, what if we added all the housing that’s being demanded by the jobs that are growing at some.
Of these campuses and put them at the parking lots around them That’s what it would look like. So that’s iTown. Think Cupertino would go for that And then how about this one You think Googlers would go for this one around Google Now those are residential towers. This is a thought experiment. This is not proposed zoning or planning ideas. It’s simply saying that there’s a significant amount of demand for housing. It’s going to go somewhere. And that somewhere doesn’t have to be five feet away, though ideally it.
Could be for some number of the population. But it should be in a place that’s accessible, and it should be in a place that people can get to easily. The suburban retrofit piece is also a part of that. And that’s a version of that. And there’s other developments that are being proposed. This is another one on North First Street that’s again trying to remake the traditional corporate campus, to bring it closer to the street, to make it more walkable, to make it like it’s part of a neighborhood.
Not just something you drive to, you park your car, and you can’t get around. I think this environment here is much lovelier than most of the office parks throughout the valley. There’s bicycles, you can get around. A lot of the other environments don’t have that. They’re more of an isolated pod. And so this is just a vision of a direction it could go. And there is not yet a tenant for this. And they’re searching for one, but they at least have a concept in place. So just a couple more quick points, and then we.
Want to open it up. Regionalism is key. We don’t do this alone. We are not in isolation from each other. We’ve saved the open space in the Bay Area as a great product of regionalism. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, these are things that are actions of regional responsibility. So too will sea level rise be the kind of issue that we’re going to have to work on as a region. It touches every community, and these questions of housing and transportation as well are part of that. San Mateo county is trying to work.
Across multiple jurisdictions to figure out how much housing to grow. It doesn’t mean they’re any more supportive of housing, but at least they have a process where those cities talk to each other. And Santa Clara county is going to copy a version of that, and we’ll see the direction that goes. Those are promising steps, and one of the levers we have as a region is to say, we won’t invest as much transportation money in a place that’s not going to grow in concert with the regional goals.
So lastly, the very last point on this then is about transportation. We don’t have this integrated regional transit system. That’s something we certainly should strive towards. That is what our competitor regions have. The places at this region the Bay Area is competing with have that. They also have more housing. So those are some of the factors that we want to make sure we work on. So just quickly in summary, this has taken a long time to create. You would say that this is a chronic problem. This is not a temporary problem.
It’s not going to be immediate, but there’s a lot of it’s important to think regionally in this, but the solutions in many of this take place locally. So with that I think we’re going to hear from some folks here on some of the local issues. And then I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much. APPLAUSE JEREMY HOFFMAN Thanks, Egon. So I just want to talk briefly about how local issues play into this. These sorts of decisions, these are playing out right now in your city councils,.
In your city halls, in your local elections. I’ve gotten involved this year. There was a group I got involved with called Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View that really has been drawing light on the jobs housing balance in Mountain View. And it’s been really heartening for me to see how the City Council members, they’re our neighbors. They do care about the opinions of the residents. And it’s actually very possible and plausible to influence them and let them know what our concerns are and what our priorities should be.
And also, I’d like to introduce Eric Rosenblum. He’s on the planning commission in Palo Alto. Would you like to say a few words ERIC ROSENBLUM Yeah, just very quickly. First, again thank you Egon. And great to see a good turnout. So I’m Eric Rosenblum. I was a Googler until about two years ago. And I was always interested in these issues, but never knew how to get involved and didn’t even know if I could get involved. It turns out, it’s not that hard. The people that oppose all growth.
Are not necessarily that numerous, but they’re extremely wellorganized. And it turns out that if you bring a slightly different mindset, I went from being completely uninformed to being a planning commissioner for the city of Palo Alto, helped to form a group called paloaltoforward. So if you’d like to educate yourself more about some local issues and how to get involved, I encourage you to go and read up a little bit. And feel free to contact me, Jeremy can find me easily. JEREMY HOFFMAN And I’d also like to thank Adina Levin who is with the Friends of Caltrain.
Organization that helped organize Egon’s talk that introduced me to him. Do you want to say a few words ADINA LEVIN Sure. And there are some really important regional decisions being made about how to modernize Caltrain and then how to fund it. Greencaltrain is the website, and this is one of these regional efforts where citizen participation will be helpful. And don’t underestimate at all the power of citizen participation. The things that Jeremy and Eric have been doing even in the last few months have been changing what’s going on in our cities.
So you have more power here than you know. JEREMY HOFFMAN So I encourage everyone, read your local papers. These issues are covered. The debates, get involved, learn more. And now, we’d like to open up the floor for QA. AUDIENCE Sure. So I noticed you have the projections going forward something like 25 or 30 years for not just jobs but also housing. How do you take legislation into account when you project how many housing units are going to be built in a given city EGON TERPLAN So the housing projections.
Are there are two factors. One of them is looking at how much California’s going to grow as a state, and then apportioning that to the region. And then within the region, it’s a little bit more of a political process down on the jurisdictional level. So in terms of legislation, it’s thinking about factors like, where is there zone capacity within cities What cities have done planning for this But it is not thinking about, is there going to be some legislative change in 15 years Is there a piece of legislation you’re thinking about.
AUDIENCE No, I was just wondering EGON TERPLAN But so it’s a political process in part. And so you may hear about RHNA, if you get involved, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation. But it becomes a question of Palo Alto saying, well, we don’t want to add 1,000 units, 2,000, whatever the number is for their particular city, because then they have to find locations where they would plan for it. And they can be sued if they don’t identify locations for it. But they can’t be sued if they don’t approve it.
In the same way. So the teeth aren’t quite so strong. I think Adina has a comment on this too. ADINA LEVIN The type of legislation in a city is called a general plan or a comprehensive plan. And the type of planning for an area is called a precise plan or a specific plan. And that’s where the city makes the law for how much housing and offices are allowed to be built. AUDIENCE Thanks. I’m curious, do you think that development that’s going to encourage people to live closer to their employers.
Is an important part of solving these problems, or if orienting things towards transit makes that less important EGON TERPLAN That’s a great question. So I think both are essential. But just for example, let’s say there was going to be a significant amount of residential development in the North Bayshore Area here in Mountain View around Google. Well, some number of the people living in those apartment units would probably work here or would work close by. They would make that choice, so it’s incredibly important. It is not the entirety of the solution.
We also have to invest in regional transit, because people are moving around the region. This is a region that has a lot of mobility, and people change jobs. So both factors are important, but you can very clearly demonstrate that housing close to people’s jobs will reduce the amount they drive. AUDIENCE So it seems like a lot of these issues are coming that are governmental in nature, whether it’s permits, or measures, or zoning. Now that this is becoming a more hot button issue, have you seen changes happening at the ballots what people are.
Voting for Or is it still sort of too new, and this November is what we should keep our eye on, and what’s happening at the local government level EGON TERPLAN That’s a great question. Well, this has been going on for a long time. So some of the votes to restrict these things go back decades. San Francisco, for example, a place that I was arguing is a great place to add jobs, it restricts the amount of office space on an annual basis going back to the voters in the 1980s.
You can’t build more than a couple office buildings a year. So I think that it is one where there’s growing interest in it. And some of the examples of these folks getting involved is a good sign. It looks like, Adina, do you want to make a comment AUDIENCE Are there any relevant elections coming up in Mountain View and Palo Alto JEREMY HOFFMAN There are relevant elections coming up. So the way Mountain View City Council works is there are seven seats elected at large across Mountain View. In alternate every two years, either four or three candidates.
Are elected for four year terms. So three new candidates are going to be elected this November. Google here there are a lot of candidate forums in Mountain View and before November 4 election day. And you should all register to vote in your town. One of the candidate forums will be here at Google on October 15. It’ll be over at Charlie’s at 400 PM. So if you want to hear the nine candidates running for three seats and their take on the problems facing Mountain View, you should definitely come to that.
Again, that’s October 15. ERIC ROSENBLUM Jeremy, I wanted to add just quickly also, I thought it was a great question about what has happened locally. I’ll give two examples. One’s very positive, and one I would say is negative in the context of this talk. A small group started talking to Palo Alto about what’s called TDM, so Transportation Demand Management. So that’s what you all enjoy here at Google. The shuttles that take you to work, the good work that Kevin Mathy’s team does for all of you but most towns don’t have.
And actually, just a small group of people coming into the City Council got Palo Alto to start adopting this measure for all of downtown. So they’ve just begun that process. Hugely impactful, didn’t take that much work. On the flip side, this election in Palo Alto is likely to result in a slate of candidates that their platform is no growth. There’s been a major backlash. And so it’s an important election coming up. This is apparently fairly unprecedented. But however you feel about the issue, one side or the other,.
There are some major changes happening on both sides of the issue. AUDIENCE For the housing problems, one of the solutions you mentioned is more low income housing and more rent control. I was under the impression that one of the causes of the housing crisis is the rent control laws that make a tenant not want to move even though their job is not in San Francisco, but they have a well below market rate apartment. And the homeowners want to get out of the rental market, and fewer and fewer properties are on the market.
And some of them are even converted to nonresidential space, because it’s hard being a homeowner of a rental property. Can you comment on that EGON TERPLAN Yeah, that’s a great question. So in part, this is an incredibly complex situation. And there’s people at many different income levels in our region. And I think what I’m trying to acknowledge is you can’t just come up with an answer that solves it for the people who could afford the market price housing. A lot of people cannot afford the market price housing,.
And there’s a variety of strategies within that. What you’re getting at is the question of what’s the impact of rent control specifically on some places. There’s only been a few cities in the region San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland to a lesser extent, San Jose to a lesser extent that have any form of rent control. So within those places, yeah, there’s been some of those impacts. But by and large, the question of neighborhood stability and housing stability is an important one. But it’s a much longer it’s a good question to ask,.
But I think the broad housing solution needs to make sure that we have housing for people that can’t afford the current cost of housing as well. Yeah AUDIENCE Do you think the stagnation exists because homeowners don’t have incentives to vote for this growth, because there’s no economic incentive for them to lose value on their house And how can we move forward with that EGON TERPLAN And local homeowners don’t actually have an incentive on the impact, the fiscal impact, of the decisions. Their property taxes stay frozen. And so the extent that their community.
Take San Jose as an example is looking for more revenue to add to it’s city services. The individual homeowner actually who’s been in a home for a long period of time doesn’t have to contribute to that. AUDIENCE But what about the price of their home EGON TERPLAN I think there’s a lot of misperceptions about the price of their home in terms of changes to things. And one thing I would point out, that if people are going to build more densely, that’s a sign of rising land values.
So there’s not a direct relationship between increasing density in a community and the impact on housing prices. So a large part of that is perception. But a lot of it’s people just don’t like change of any kind. AUDIENCE I have a quick question. So we have seen how you have shown the projection of 15 growth. I was thinking, can we think of 50 more capacity in the sense we come to a place for 9 hours and commute for 2 hours. So those 12 hours we’re outside home.
So house occupancy right now is 50 in that sense. And population also, they are also thinking in terms of 24 hour banking, 24 hour hospital, 24 hour services. So in that sense, can we extend one more shift in working and distribute people in that accordingly so that our roads are not that congested, our houses are not that congested EGON TERPLAN So you’re suggesting that people might take the homes that they’re not in during the day and have people sleep in them AUDIENCE The same family can distribute.
Who works in the day, who works in the night, who is with the kids during the day, who is with the kids during the night rather than just going to some daycare. EGON TERPLAN That’s the reality of how low income people can survive in the Bay Area. What you have just described is what happens every day in communities over this region. Someone works as a janitor, someone stays home with the kids, someone works at night, someone works during the day. Is it by the force of policy to try to impose that.
Unlikely. I think you can encourage companies to be more flexible in their workforce and other phenomena. But I think that what you’re getting at is probably more about a kind of social and cultural transformation that would need to happen. But it’s creative, and it’s important. AUDIENCE The current housing crisis and the policies that gave rise to it are related to the deurbanization of American cities in the recent past and the social tumult and migrations that resulted white flight suburbanization, deindustrialization, et cetera. Is the area sufficiently past those social ills.
Or is some of the resistance to growth still drawing on those old wounds EGON TERPLAN Wow, very complex, important question. Short answer is yes. We’re a product of our recent past. The deindustrialization affected large parts of the East Bay. And this is why I was really trying to make a point and think about the income factor. Just think about the Bay Area for a moment. Historically, you had a lot of suburban migration. Like lots of regions, we had lower income populations living in older communities in parts of San Francisco, parts.
Of Oakland, parts of the East Bay. That has changed. So some of the pressures you are seeing, particularly in Oakland right now, are very different from the pattern of deindustrialization, and decentralization, and moving out. And you’re going to have political pressure as prices go up and people perceive that they’re going to be pushed out, or in reality their children won’t necessarily be able to afford the rents as they go up. So I think these are ones that we want to get in front of as a region.
And the answer is to think about this more broadly to make sure we build enough housing, but these are a lot of complex issues in that question. ADINA LEVIN Back in that generation, suburbs were cool, cities were uncool. If you had a choice, you moved to the suburbs. So the earlier conversation about what do current homeowners think, they’re thinking what makes my place great is that it’s suburban. Walking and biking and transit are what uncool people do. And the current generation of younger adults think really differently.
There’s a cultural shift going on. AUDIENCE I’ve been reading a lot about the shuttle pilot program in San Francisco and Facebook’s doing a lot with housing development around Menlo Park. Is there a point at which you think these companies that are growing really rapidly have more of a responsibility to step into with publicprivate partnerships Or is that happening already, and is it to what extent EGON TERPLAN That’s a good question. I’d love for Kevin and the transportation folks to address that. But I think the reality is and I.
Think Google recognizes this Caltrain is fundamentally important to the region, and it’s fundamentally important to making all of these pieces go together. The shuttles that are being run are great, but they’re a part of a solution. And so to the extent that you all as people working here get involved with issues that are happening with Caltrain and make sure that Caltrain’s successful, as well as thinking when you’re saying publicprivate partnerships, there’s the public investment in the transit system. But there could be some sort of scenario where you have more people riding Caltrain,.
They get off in Mountain View, and then you’re running more express feeder buses public, private, shuttles, whatever kind from downtown Mountain View to this area. And in fact, I think some of the planning for Shoreline Boulevard coming here would facilitate that. So that’s the kind of direction we need to go in a number of these things is to make sure some of those regional trunk lines have enough capacity, so a lot of people can move big distances. And then publicprivate partnerships, a variety of mechanisms to get people the last couple of miles.
Ultimately to their destination. So I really hope all of you can get involved. I didn’t mention before, I also want to recognize my colleague Leah Toeniskoetter in the back of the room who runs our San Jose office. So those of you who live in Santa Clara county, want to continue these kinds of conversations in the South Bay, talk to her, show up at our San Jose office. Get involved with Friends of Caltrain or think about these are the kinds of issues where these are really being talked about.