Where is everyone going to live?

In the middle of a housing crisis, cities up and down the Peninsula are moving forward with plans to add a ton of new office space and no new housing. These plans will add many more new commuters, without any corresponding housing for them.

  • Last year the Apple Park launched in Cupertino. 2.8 million sq ft of office space (room for 18,000 workers), no new housing.

  • Brisbane just put a plan for the Baylands on the 2018 ballot. 4 million sq ft of office space (room for 26,000 workers), 2200 housing units.

  • South San Francisco is moving forward with Oyster Point development. 1.5 million sq ft of office space (room for 10,000 workers), 1200 housing units.

  • San Francisco is moving forward with the Central SOMA Plan. 6 million sq ft of office space (room for 40,000 workers), only 7000 housing units.

  • Facebook wants to add 35,000 employees in Menlo Park, with only 1500 housing units to match.

Where are all of those commuters supposed to live? No one is planning on adding housing to match the new office space being added.

We have seen this story play out already. Those rich new workers are going to want apartments near their offices, so they'll bid up the price of existing housing. This will lead to gentrification and displacement. Everyone who can't afford to do that will commute from Pleasanton, Gilroy and Stockton. This will clog 101 and the San Mateo Bridge, leading to even worse traffic.

It cracks me up when folks say "Why doesn't Google just build their next office in Bakersfield?" Your own City Councils are rolling out the red carpet to host their next office, so they can get that sweet revenue, and don't care/don't want to add any housing to match. This is what "local control" has gotten us and the results have been ruinous.

My brother and sister have already left the Bay Area. My best friend grew up 300 yards from me and now is raising his family in Savannah, GA. I'm worried I'm going to be next. All of these new developments are the world's slowest moving steamroller, driving up rent and housing prices. $3m for a home and $4,000 median rents are in our near future.

How can we turn these traffic and displacement bombs around?

  • Call your Senator and Assemblymember to support SB 827, which could actually add enough new housing near transit to reverse our traffic problems and slow the explosive growth of rents.

  • Support new housing in your town. The State is adding bonuses for adding new housing units, but developers are choosing not to use them, for fear of community backlash. Tonight, for example, there's a meeting about 935 homes at Concar Drive at San Mateo City Hall at 7pm, and another at Millbrae City Hall about the Serra Station project adjacent to Millbrae BART. These could use voices in support.

  • If you're someone who does not benefit from a fixed rate mortgage and Prop 13, or if you are and you're worried about where your kids are going to live, consider running for City Council or applying for Planning Commission in your town. Sign up for mailing lists to get notified about new events happening: I run one ([email protected]) or yimbyaction.org/sanmateo.

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