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By Steve Levy

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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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More Jobs, Population and CalTrain riders

Uploaded: May 17, 2014
Yesterday's jobs report showed that the region added 17,000 in April and 103,000 jobs in the past 12 months—for the third year far outpacing the projected 40,000 added jobs per year in Plan Bay Area. These gains lowered unemployment rates on the peninsula to below 5%.

This pace of growth will not continue and the unemployment rate could bounce up before it goes down even more. But job growth will continue probably at rates higher than I anticipated three years ago.

In the first quarter of 2014 VC funding levels hit the highest level since the dot com boom and the Bay Area captured a record high 50% pf the national total.

On April 30th, the state Department of Finance released January 1, 2014 population estimates. Santa Clara County was the fastest growing county in California and for the first time the Bay Area was the state's fastest growing region.

CalTrain released preliminary 2014 ridership counts and there was another surge in ridership in PA and across the system. Overall ridership was up 11.8%, PA counts were up 12.6% and more trains had more than 100% capacity at peak hours. click here

Palo Alto's Housing Element update process continues amidst these continuing signs of surging regional and county growth. The Comp Plan update is continuing in the same context.

I think the pressures for wanting to live and work in Palo Alto will remain strong. I favor more of the growth in downtown where I live and work and around Cal Ave.

I invite the readers who are worried about the growth going on in south PA to come to these meetings and argue why other areas in the city are better choices for growth. For example the housing advisory committee and related council committee are nearing the end of selecting sites for the HE update and the condo site being discussed elsewhere on TS is in the list I believe.

Of course, people who present have to announce their real name and be respectful.

Comments

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on May 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

Time to think East to West, my comment on your other posting was my wild idea, but still checked out how many homes are planned for the City of Stockton. El Dorado County, total amount of homes approved 33,000, there is a lot more placed I haven't even checked.

While people say they can all move to Stockton or Tracy, if that is the case, wouldn't Palo Alto residents in the future get stuck in horrible traffic.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

High speed bus shuttles up and down the freeways which have one stop in each city beside a parking lot with other shuttles to take riders into the business districts of each city would help keep traffic moving and get people the first and last mile of their commute

As I drive along the southern part of highway 85 and see that the center verge contains the light rail and its stations, it occurs to me that as we improve our freeways a similar design could be invoked with bus shuttles in mind that can use the diamond lanes and don't need to cross lanes of traffic to enter and exit the freeway.

Whenever improvements come along they cost huge billions of dollars and the benefits seem to serve only a small percentage of people. Younger people without families are beginning to hold off on car purchase and use Zip Cars and other car sharing services when they need a personal vehicle and if this trend continues then infrastructure should be taking note of how trends are moving. By the time our grandchildren are of driving age, they may remain carless until their children are born. The question then is possibly who will do the driving of the one family car? The stay at home parent (or the part time working parent or the parent who works at home) or the parent who commutes 10 miles or more?

Lifestyles are changing. Is our infrastructure preparing for that?


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on May 18, 2014 at 10:45 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

I think people should be able to choose living in Stockton or Davis and commute into the region but that will require funding some road and transit expansions if many more make this choice.

I also think car sharing will increase and younger residents may prefer living where they can walk, bike or take transit or car sharing, which means mostly near existing denser areas like downtown PA.


Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on May 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm

One question: Where will the water come from to accommodate the needs of all these new residents? TOur climate may have returned to the old normal -- which is arid -- a desert.

There is some evidence that the climate here in the Western US was unusually wet for the entire 20th century. So -- calling what we are now experiencing a "drought" is only correct if you assume that our true and real normal climate is not arid or even semi-arid, and that the climate will soon return to what we experienced for most of the 20th century. I truly hope it does, but I very much doubt it will.

The climate must be taken into account when we make urban planning decisions.

Again: where will the water we need come from?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 18, 2014 at 10:46 pm

The Pundit Industry which projects these numbers bases its forecasts on how much demand there is for space here, not how much supply of space and resources there are.

Of course, the demand is infinite for all practical purposes, since there is no way we could build enough to satisfy all of it.

But the Development Industry will make a lot of of money trying.


Posted by Garrett , a resident of another community,
on May 19, 2014 at 9:51 am

If one city stops growth, ends up somewhere else. You have entire counties that restricted growth, again ends uo somewhere else. Developers just look for greener pastures to build.

Water is a good point and power consumption which is higher in the central valley. Hot summers and garden style apartments with loads of A/C units. It would have made sense to build European style development in the central valley, good fast efficent transit to and from Silicon Valley.

Caltrain as a system is very limited, north south but developers are going east. Time to look east, connect the east.

The option to live in Stockton, Davis or Merced are made with the pocket book in mind and commuting by car is a must.


Posted by Oakland is the future, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 20, 2014 at 10:36 am

If I had to plan a transportation grid for the Bay area, I would make downtown Oakland the center. Test any affordable area ripe for growth and Oakland is the straighter shot. More importantly, you could build the twin towers in downtown Oakland.

Any experts out there who understand what transportation is already available from Oakland to affordable suburbs?

Any major company looking to grow should check out Oakland.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on May 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Many readers wish the growth would go elsewhere in the region. That is a choice available now to firms and residents.

Choices like Stockton are very unlikely for businesses and will require substantial transportation investment to make accessible if many more people want to commute in.

The Valley locations are also not good for water and energy usage as they use these resources more intensively than Bay Area locations.

Oakland is also a choice open to businesses but many have chosen the 580/680 junction as the place to be on the east of the region.

Still Santa Clara and SF counties are posting the highest job growth and likely to continue.

Private transportation options are great.

I do not worry about water in the long run. Either we won't solve the problem and growth will slow or much more likely we will adjust through conservation (many folks in our building just got low flow toilets), recycling, and higher prices.

With all of these ideas (thanks for posting) I am confident the peninsula will need to deal with strong growth pressures as it is where people want to live and work.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm

"I also think car sharing will increase and younger residents may prefer living where they can walk, bike or take transit or car sharing, which means mostly near existing denser areas like downtown PA."

Au contraire; it means they prefer to live in a real city, like San Francisco. Many are choosing to for those very reasons.

By contrast, Palo Alto is a suburban town with (slightly amusing) urban pretensions.

There is no reason why Stockton or Tracy couldn't offer Palo Alto or Mountain View levels of amenities, including jobs. Likely they will, soon. Software development is extremely portable--far more portable than any other major industry. Why the conceit that the jobs must be over here?

Or here at all, as our manic civic uglification campaign continues?


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on May 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Car sharing is great idea, so is ride sharing (car pools) but some problems like suburban settings and different work habits.

The idea of car pools works best if you can find workers who live and work near each other. Car sharing works if someone can't get a ride home due to work. The devil is in the details. Cars must always be ready at certain stations or places. This would make it hard if someone need a car for one evening but ends up in Walnut Creek, that car must make it back to Sunnyvale.

On Transit, maybe the idea to build large underground parking lots under shopping centers, malls and other after work services. A person can park at Stoneridge Mall, hop the RBT to Palo Alto, return and shop afterwards if needed.

We need to think 21st century, not 1950's working in a middle of a city.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on May 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Curmudgeon wrote

"There is no reason why Stockton or Tracy couldn't offer Palo Alto or Mountain View levels of amenities, including jobs. Likely they will, soon. Software development is extremely portable--far more portable than any other major industry. Why the conceit that the jobs must be over here?"

Companies are free to locate in Stockton or Tracy but don't. There is no conceit here--just recognition of where people want to work and live.

The largest problem with this wish that firms would locate elsewhere is that they have good reason to locate around here--access to the labor force they want. LinkedIn could have announced plans to add space for up to 13,000 workers in Stockton but they chose Mountain View.

What is so hard to understand about the fact that companies want to locate from SF to San Jose if they can and workers want to live close to work if they can.

Posters can move to Stockton but don't. Why do you expect others to want that choice more than already do.

And yes I think some young tech workers want to live here just as many Stanford grad students do. It is a mistake to think all young workers want to live in SF.


Posted by Oakland is the future, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Stephen levy,

You seem pretty stubborn about making "here", the place for everything. Expanding companies, housing for young tech workers, and you call that a choice. It's actually not - it's a market.

Currently the demand (maybe because of ideas like yours) is so high, and the supply is limited. The existing market will work itself out. But I see little chance for non-market events like massive "affordable housing" (are you paying for them?), or for the uglyfication of Palo Alto and theories about "going up" or stack and packs. Why would anyone destroy a town to please stubborn companies and stubborn young techs.

It's elitism to insist on being in Palo Alto and that attitude will eventually be replaced by common sense. There is no space here, it's expensive, and you can get a bigger bang for your buck in a broader Bay area which you and ABAG may want to consider.

Jobs need to go East, they need to go to where there is affordable housing already.

It takes a few corageous companies to make it happen.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on May 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Would be good to east with all those high end paying jobs and their workers. Great but then those who are long term residents and long time bus9ness owners and what about those that have nothing to do with the Silicon Valley. You know the ones that work in San Francisco, Richmond or on of the many high end places, guess they will have move to east beyond the high end places of Moraga, Danville and Blackhawk


Posted by anthodyd, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on May 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm

It is time for the tech co's themselves to apply themselves to building out the superstructure of a burgeoning tech/industrial community. For starters, Google could bump up its existing fiber network to allow offices in other than the looming overdevelopment in the present North Bayshore area. The current gridlock should argue against future building/employment there. Incidentally, has any thought been given to future sea level rise? Said area under development would be first affected. There is a map available online showing that the high tide line approaching Middlefield Road in 2020- look it up. (Sorry, I don't have the link just now)


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on May 22, 2014 at 12:07 pm

If you want to tackle traffic, you should be fighting growth in Palo Alto, and pushing development of downtown San Jose and Oakland and San Francisco. We should be reducing density in the suburbs, not promoting it.


Posted by Oakland is the future, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Garett,

"Would be good to east with all those high end paying jobs and their workers."

Jobs and housing are not always perfectly matched. The issue is not that everyone will go live and work somewhere, but how to make the best of infrastructure, and to have adequate affordable housing for the new jobs.

Right now you have buses bringing in young tech workers in from San Francisco. They could more easily take the Bart into downtown Oakland for work.

Are people afraid of Oakland or something? Really odd how a perfectly solid city structure is being ignored in favor of stuffing Palo Alto.

It might be that the higher ups want offices in the more ritzy areas. Why not have them commute?


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on May 22, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Just because BART runs into Oakland from San Francisco doesn't make it a perfectly solid city or a place to set up business.

If you think the techies taking over the Mission is bad, you haven't ever seen anything yet. Oakland is home to large liberal base, NIMBY's exist here.

If you work in lets say "Sunnyvale", they decided to pack up and leave for Oakland because the best option for growth, would you go to Oakland for your job? Would you get in your car and drive to work, want to sit in traffic behind some slow moving 18 wheeler and return home, traffic with another 18 wheeler?


Posted by Anti Economic Development, a resident of another community,
on May 23, 2014 at 12:36 am

Perhaps the Palo Alto economic development office should play a different role. They should partner with the economic development offices in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, helping companies relocate to other cities. Some of the campus locations in the Stanford Research Park might want locations in Sunnyvale or Santa Clara. That would leave Palo Alto a much quieter place, with less traffic. It would be easier to park downtown. There would be less revenue for services, but that's ok. Palo Alto could become the residential bedroom community it has not been in decades.


Posted by Oakland is the future, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 23, 2014 at 9:13 am

Garrett,

You might be right that this whole thing is a battle of NIMBY's - you say nobody wants the growth - Oakland, SF, or San Jose. These three need to grow up then because they have things like Bart and infrastructure, which you can't dismiss with "just because".

If these three (no less than three major cities within an hour from Palo Alto ) can't grow up, the state has a problem, and jobs should go outside California.

HP just announced up to 16,000 layoffs. I doubt companies have the luxury to build in the most expensive real estate market in the world. Building more in Palo Alto will attract a busier luxury market, the supply is not going to reduce prices.

The comfort of living and working in Sunnyvale has a price. Forward thinking employers who want a foot in the ay area should go East.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on May 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

Concord and Walnut Creek restricted offic growth years ago. Pleasanton and Livermore restricted home growth, winery growth is good. San Francisco passed Prop M, that sent back office operations to San Ramon.

With H.P cutting 11,000, how many positions in Palo Alto, space turned over to other firms.

North Bay is largely restricted, so is the coast, Contra Costa has growth restrictions along with Alameda. Half Moon Bay along with Healdsburg.are really good examples of No Growth. Tracy has a limit with growth.

To solve housing need to think big new outlaying new developments that will be new cities of 70,000 people on major mass transit lines.


Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on May 23, 2014 at 11:33 am

Anti Economic Development,

How sarcastic can you be? This is a serious issue and your jokes are not helpful or appreciated.


Posted by Anti Economic Development, a resident of another community,
on May 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

@chris, that is the logical consequence of advocating that Palo Alto should step back from being a high-tech center with a lot of jobs. If people are serious about not wanting this aspect of the city, it would be feasible to invest in solving the problem.


Posted by Oakland is the future , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Anti Economic Development,

Maybe you can explain "it would be feasible to invest in solving the problem"

I'm assuming that the "problem" would be Palo Alto stepping back from being a high-tech center with a lot of jobs. It is already a "high-tech center," it just cannot handle "a lot of jobs."

It would be good to know why everyone in the Bay area appears to be anti-growth, and then why it's "feasible" for Palo Alto to invest in what nobody wants. Could it be that maybe nobody can afford the investment, or that everybody wants somebody else to pay for it?


Posted by Garrett , a resident of another community,
on May 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm

While the bay area appears anti growth, people want their jobs, shopping, restaurants, activities and the services they desire. They want them right away, without wait or traffic. As we talk about sending our jobs and hi tech workers to Oakland.

Chances are you are going to displace all those above mentioned.


Posted by Great!, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on May 24, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Sure! Send housing and jobs to Oakland!

Oakland has BART, Amtrak and ferry. Palo Alto doesn't.

Palo Alto is on a narrow peninsula--Oakland isn't.

Makes sense to me!


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on May 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm

What makes people think the City of Oakland would want to see their residents and businesses displaced for tech types?

Oakland is known for a large port, some businesses are located for that reason
Silicon Valley the same thing, brains, capital and major sources of ideas.

Why would some relocate to Oakland, while the major investors live in Palo Alto.

BART will take another few years to San Jose, Caltrain need I say more. Until Google.started ferry service, Silicon Valley hasn't ever been served by ferris since before the depression. When valley did have ferry service, area was known as The Valley of the Hearts Delight.

All rail lines are.shared by Union Pacific and passenger service.

Our highway/expressway/freeway suffers from missing gaps.

101/237 needs a major rehaul. Full freeway standard for 84. 580 needs to meet up with 680, yes the Foothill Freeway. Bayfront Expressway would dump commuters right into Google Central.


Posted by Oakland is the future, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 26, 2014 at 1:10 am

You know, I could be wrong.

For the same reason people stay in California, (they can afford it and will pay anything to stay), silicon valley businesses maybe won't go anywhere else. Oakland must sound as attractive as a toothache to the people who can only hang their hat here, only here!

In a more natural order, businesses go to more competitive places. Ask New York how attractive they are to businesses right now. Not that Oakland is affordable either, but more so than the three exits off 101 people insist on.

What was I thinking, actual affordable housing, transit, and all that.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on May 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Oakland, SF and San Jose are all growing with major new developments.

Yet many people and businesses do not want to be there and do want to be up and down the Peninsula.

People are free to go to Oakland and Stockton but many will choose to live here and we see businesses expanding all throughout the county.

I think the realistic solution is to do the planning and investing to maintain the quality of life in a context of more growth to come.

I think confusing wishes with reality will lead to bad results.

Tomorrow at 4pm is the next housing committee meeting at Avenidas on Bryant downtown followed by a meeting to invite input on the Comp Plan.


Posted by Oakland is the future, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 29, 2014 at 12:35 am

stephen levy,

"I think the realistic solution is to do the planning and investing to maintain the quality of life in a context of more growth to come."

How much, what, and at what price?

Planning (offices, housing or retail)
Investing (residents, developers, others, the state? :))
Quality of life (as defined by residents, developers, others - I see ABAG's objective is quality of life)
Growth to come (how much in what period of time)

You can pretty much project that residents and developers are on opposite sides of the spectrum on all of the above. And ABAG's definition of quality of life is irrelevant, as it tries to play God.

I prefer that the market decide.


Posted by Emily Kirby, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

Can't possibly understand all the frustration in the comments. Thing are actually getting better. Out of my friend and family almost everyone managed to find a decent job in a last year. I personally think officials are doing a great job. Obviously it's still problematic to build up a connection between employers and potential workers. It's my personal opinion, but even now majority needs that kind of guidance. I'd recommend services like Web Link if you are looking for some help. Anyway, hope that no one here will be left behind and will manage to find a job.


Posted by Steven, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 8:25 am

Yes, Emily, (but how much better?) --assuming you never suffered a layoff from the 2008-2009 crash. All these jobs the WH says "they" created, --most are lower end, retail and service jobs and a lot are not full time 40 hour per week jobs with benefits. And even if you are employed, increases are nil. Companies have gotten leaner and have little incentive provide much (if anything) when it comes to increasing salaries. For those who have been rehired, a great many are down 20-25% from their previous income despite their professional and educational credentials. Thank you very much. Our area is a bubble in terms of salaries, real estate and cultural myopia. Try wearing the shoes of other people less fortunate than yourself while drinking your $4.50 Latte at Starbucks.


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