For decades, the Bay Area and California has been dominated by the environmental lobby and NIMBYs (Not in my backyard people). Those groups have made building housing, particularly in the coastal cities, remarkably difficult. Whether it’s in the Bay Area or Southern California makes little difference and we now face a huge shortage in housing supply.
That supply shortage leads directly to the skyrocketing prices we have seen throughout the Bay Area where the previous high prices of 2006 and 2007 have been surpassed.
Fortunately, there’s an increased focus on building homes closer to jobs. An East Bay Times story this week highlighted a few mixed-use areas that had attracted major employers. It cited developments in San Mateo and San Jose as well as the plans at Bishop Ranch to redevelop what was formerly two-story office buildings into its City Center with retailers, restaurants and eventually housing and a hotel.
Bishop Ranch was correctly cited as the typical suburb office park. It’s competitor a few exits south on Interstate 680, Hacienda Business Park, pioneered housing in its 860-acre park. That happened decades ago when the business market was in the dumper, but demand for housing was high. There are two neighborhoods that were built back in the 1990s, while the current surge of apartments has added three more complexes.
One of the refreshing developments in the job-rich, housing-poor Silicon Valley was the city of Mountain View’s approval of a huge that will replace single-story industrial buildings with new neighborhoods totaling nearly 10,000 housing units.
The unanimous approval by the City Council after a six-year process that included extensive public outreach has the potential to dent the chronic housing shortage in the South Bay.
Mountain View is home to Google’s headquarters and the search giant owns much of the land. The firm was a driver in the process.
Proponents and affordable housing advocates hope other cities will follow suit. In San Jose, Google and a partner have been assembling parcels of land near SAP Arena. Google’s early plans call for 20,000 jobs downtown with just 2,000 housing units.
San Jose Mayor Sam Licardo has stated he wants the city to permit 25,000 units over the next five years.
Again, if that comes to fruition, it has the potential to lessen the demand on Tri-Valley cities and other outlying cities within comfortable commute range (based on miles, not minutes/hours).