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Acres of office space

Why is there a housing shortage? Because housing can't keep up with the rapid pace of job growth

On a regular workday, it takes bartender Chris Nault 90 minutes or more to get to his job at the Sports Page Bar and Grill in Mountain View, across the street from the Google campus. It was much better, he said, in the days when he rented an apartment near Middlefield Road and his drive to work was a matter of minutes.

But Nault couldn't afford to continue living in Mountain View. The rent for his two-bedroom apartment was $2,200 a month five years ago, but it steadily notched up to nearly double that today. He and his wife moved to South San Jose, where they now pay less each month for their mortgage on a larger townhouse.

He has no regrets, he said, except for his grueling workday commute.

"It's one of those death-and-taxes sort of things," Nault said with a shrug. "But I have customers here who are driving all the way from the El Dorado Hills."

This story is a familiar one in Silicon Valley. A dearth of affordable housing and a glut of jobs have gone hand-in-hand, creating a tangle of problems as workers seeking housing are pushed out to the Bay Area's fringes and beyond. The imbalance of jobs to housing has pushed up the cost of living in jobs-rich cities on the Peninsula and the South Bay, as residential development lags far behind the creation of office space.

Experts warn that the jobs-housing imbalance is spurring an exodus of workers to more affordable locales, who are facing increasingly daunting commutes -- a situation that could threaten the future of the labor pool underpinning the Silicon Valley economy. Major employers have appealed to city councils and planning commissions throughout the Bay Area to encourage more housing development.

"We're not just talking about a housing issue, we're talking about an economic issue," said Carl Guardino, CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group. "If we can't recruit and retain talent, then we can't continue to foster the innovation economy."

As a result, individual cities' land-use decisions have become regional issues. Elected officials often pledge their commitment to nurturing affordable housing, balanced growth and income diversity. Yet the data shows lopsided growth tilted in favor of new office and commercial buildings.

Between 2010 and 2016, Santa Clara County added 166,800 new jobs, but only 25,440 new housing units were built, according to the California Department of Finance.

Much of the housing that is being built is affordable only to the well-heeled, not those earning median or below-median incomes. From 2007 to 2014, South Bay cities had guidelines for future development, called housing elements, that aimed to add about 34,500 homes for very low-, low- and moderate-income households.

In fact, barely a quarter of that number were built, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments. Instead, the cities prioritized high-end homes. Los Altos approved more than 10 times as many homes as its housing element called for in the highest income category. Milpitas approved nearly seven times as many high-end homes.

The South Bay is at a "turning point" for facing the limits of the suburban growth and provincial decision-making that have dominated much of its history, said Gillian Adams, a senior planner with the Association of Bay Area Governments. A smarter regional planning mindset needs to take hold, she said.

"We're not at that point anymore where cities can think they're not connected to their neighbors," she said. "That's a hard transition to accept -- we have a lot of smaller communities that grew up at the same time and they're hitting the same mid-life crisis.

"And there's not many examples of where you go from here. Everyone is trying to figure it out at the same time," she said.

Recent growth favors jobs

Several cities in Santa Clara County have added a staggering number of jobs between 2010 and 2014. Data collected by the American Community Survey as part of the U.S. Census, which is often cited by city planners, shows that cities including Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara have each supported upwards of 10,000 new jobs in just four years, while building just a fraction of the housing units necessary to accommodate all those new employees.

In Santa Clara County, Mountain View's North Bayshore continues to be the epicenter of extraordinary office growth, fueling fears that jobs-heavy development will overwhelm Santa Clara County's housing and transportation infrastructure. Mountain View bolstered its job count from 67,327 in 2011 to 81,217 in 2014 -- over 20 percent net new jobs. Job increases over the same period include 14,547 in Palo Alto, 12,930 in Sunnyvale and 17,814 in Santa Clara.

Housing development over the same period reveals that the jobs-housing imbalance has worsened significantly. For every home built in Palo Alto, for example, nearly 14 jobs were created. The ratio drops to just over three jobs for every housing unit in Santa Clara.

Perhaps the best example of the growing concern over unfettered office growth is the recently approved Santa Clara City Place project, a 240-acre swath of undeveloped land roughly three times the size of Disneyland. Once it's built out, the development will create 5.7 million square feet of new office space and 1.5 million square feet of retail. The project is expected to add more than 25,000 new employees to Santa Clara, most of whom will be commuting to work, according to city reports.

Although the project received a unanimous vote of the Santa Clara council on June 21, and plenty of praise -- with council members calling it anything from a "minor miracle" to "Santana Row on steroids" -- city staff conceded that the project causes significant and unavoidable impacts to the region's jobs-housing imbalance. The project includes 1,360 housing units at most, significantly below the expected demand for housing as a result of the new office park.

This didn't sit well with everyone. The city's planning commissioner Sudhanshu Jain spoke out at the meeting calling the City Place plan rushed and completely contrary to the city's general plan, which calls for a projected 28,500 new jobs between 2010 and 2035. City Place and a nearby 48-acre property recently acquired by the Chinese technology company LeEco, Jain said, could single-handedly push the city way over those expectations.

Santa Clara certainly isn't the only city exceeding growth projections. Mountain View's general plan estimates the city will have 80,820 jobs by 2030, and a population of about 86,330. The most recent numbers for 2016 show that there are already 81,217 jobs in Mountain View and 77,925 residents, according to Randy Tsuda, Mountain View's community development director.

Perhaps it's a sign that tensions are running high in Santa Clara County over the jobs-housing imbalance, but City Place has provoked an unusual level of ire from the neighboring city of San Jose. San Jose city planners blasted the project, calling it a violation of Santa Clara's general plan that would force San Jose to carry the burden of housing and providing city services to support what they called a tremendous and irresponsible development north of Highway 101.

In a letter to Santa Clara, San Jose planning director Harry Freitas wrote that only 13.5 percent of the project's employees are estimated to live in Santa Clara, increasing demand for residential units by 15,408 and likely boosting the region's total population by 40,677people. The assumption, Freitas said in the letter, is that San Jose will remain Silicon Valley's bedroom community, leaving the city strapped for cash as job growth continues to explode farther north.

"Cities that have significant fiscal challenges (such as) jobs-poor cities like San Jose provide the bulk of services to our most in-need communities in the South Bay," the letter states. "This project will perpetuate the wealth and resource divide between cities and further aggravate disparity in our county."

Sohagi Law Group, retained by the city of San Jose, sent a letter objecting to the nearly 140,000 daily vehicle trips that are expected once the project is built out. Those trips include an estimated 10,000 commuters during the morning hours and 12,000 commuters during the evening, causing significant delays on highways 101 and 237.

Santa Clara officials say that they are well within their right to approve the jobs-heavy project. In an interview with the Voice, Mayor Lisa Gillmor described the project as a major opportunity that the city couldn't afford to pass up, and that Santa Clara is lucky that the developer wanted to use over 180 acres of former landfill. She said it is highly unusual for the city of San Jose to butt into another city's planning process -- something she said could set a "dangerous precedent."

"Apple is building their spaceship campus right on their border, but we respect the city of Cupertino and the decisions they made," Gillmor said. "It's certainly going to impact us dramatically and we're going to have to make provisions for that, but you didn't see Santa Clara objecting to Apple Computers."

Almost every other city in the region has its own examples of massive tech-fueled development on the horizon. Cupertino -- already bracing for impacts later this year when Apple's 2.8-million-square-foot "spaceship" campus comes online -- is also considering adding an additional 2 million square feet of offices immediately to the south as part of a Vallco Shopping Mall redevelopment. In Sunnyvale, city officials have already doled out about 5.4 million square feet in office development approvals to redevelop the Moffett Park neighborhood, located just east of Mountain View's North Bayshore. When fully built out, the office district is expected to bring 24,000 new jobs.

As he endorsed the first leg of the Moffett Park expansion last month, Sunnyvale Councilman Jim Davis characterized the office park as part of the solution for the regional housing crisis.

"It's a terrible thing that our children can't afford to buy housing in our town, but we're working diligently to generate money so we can build affordable housing," he said. "Maybe this will give us some of the resources we need to build some homes."

The project is providing $8.5 million in housing fees, or roughly enough to build 19 affordable-housing units, based on current market costs.

Why aren't cities building housing?

It's hard not to see the appeal of office development. City Place is projected to increase the city of Santa Clara's property value by 17 percent, and yield between $9 million and $14 million in annual rent -- the project is on city-owned land -- and annual tax benefits estimated at $17 million, according to acting city manager Rajeev Batra.

Commercial and office development are seen as cash cows for cities. A fiscal analysis by San Jose late last year found that for every 1,000 square feet of medium-density apartment development, the city loses $421 annually when things like the cost of city services are factored in. The same amount of commercial and industrial development brings in an average of more than $1,000 in net revenue, thanks to sales, property and hotel taxes and the like.

At a Palo Alto City Council meeting in September, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said the so-called "fiscalization of land use," where cities focus on planning and zoning that maximizes annual tax revenue, is a major problem that constrains housing growth throughout California. City officials are going to act in their perceived self-interest, Simitian said, so it shouldn't be a surprise that growth is lopsided in favor of the more lucrative projects.

"I remember in the 1990s ... Silicon Valley created six jobs for every unit of housing it created," he said. "And then we were surprised that there was a housing shortage or that there was a high cost attached to the housing that was available."

Data from the peak growth period of the dot-com boom confirms that there was a similar growth pattern to what is seen today: The county had added roughly 130,000 new jobs between 1995 and 2001, while adding just over 30,000 housing units. Housing growth was strongest in Cupertino and San Jose, but North County cities like Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto added just over 1,000 new housing units during that critical period.

Rather than let that trend continue, the business community in the Bay Area -- the same group driving the job growth -- has made a concerted effort to appeal to city planners to shift the focus toward more housing. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents more than 400 companies, has focused for decades on housing as an important part of land-use policy, according to Guardino. He said California's "broken tax system" penalizes cities for building homes, but having a more balanced growth policy needs to be a priority.

"For way too many years, San Jose has been the bedroom community for Silicon Valley," he said. "The more we can build homes close to jobs, the shorter the commutes, the less impact that we have on the environment."

In theory, Guardino said, everyone is in favor of more affordable places to live in Silicon Valley. But the kinds of housing that make it possible -- high density apartments near transit centers, for example -- bring local residents out in force to fight it. Individual companies seeking balanced growth in the Bay Area, he said, need to show up at city meetings to act as a counterweight.

Companies have a vested interest because it's challenging to recruit new employees when the cost of living is so high, and the only reasonably priced homes are rental units located far from the jobs-rich cities. Nearly 40 percent of Santa Clara County employees travel at least half an hour to get to work each day, according to census data from 2014.

"It's really difficult to convince someone coming out of college to work here when that means a dorm-like experience not even close to where they work," Guardino said. "For Silicon Valley to be a sustainable valley, we have to come to grips with our housing prices."

Read the entire Out of Balance series:

Part 1, Acres of office space

Part 2, Regulations, residents often hamper affordable housing

Part 3, Housing advocates turn to the ballot box

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13 people like this
Posted by Thinking
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

You have to wonder, with all this office space being built, will it really
be occupied? It's an awful lot of space. It's way more than than enough to
hold the projected job growth in the region.

A lot of this construction is speculative, meaning that there is no tenant
lined up and locked in to fill it when it's done. Those that are lined up
are forecasting their own employee count growth, and they may end up
being wrong.

9 people like this
Posted by Thinking More
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Where are all these workers even going to come from? Guardino is mixing his metaphors
when he talks about "a dorm-like experience not even close to where they work". For years, Google workers choose to live in San Francisco and work in Mountain View. The same for Facebook. I believe Facebook has provided statistics that say half of their workers
come from San Francisco to Menlo Park.

Kids out of school don't want a suburban house-like dwelling. They want a "dorm like experience" and they don't care if it's close to where they work. They care more about the night life near where they live. The real issue is not workers straight out of college, as Guardino should know. The issue is when they get older and want a nicer residence, and care less about the night life and more about the commute.

These companies have grown by having very young work forces. Is that sustainable? Will their work forces not age? Isn't the real issue retention? And with the historical compensation being so high, they have lots to spend on real estate. That
causes as many problems as it solves. The density of existing housing has increased, and the same is true of the pre-existing office space. It's very hard to get accurate
numbers for future projections when the density may switch back around.

Look at the number of jobs created over the past 10 years, the increase in population,
and the total number of housing units over time. That could be enlightening.

32 people like this
Posted by Kyle
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Very easy solution: build more housing. Up the zoning from 2-stories to 3-4 in most neighborhoods. Stop approving town houses, and mandate condo developments.

Hell, for bigger areas, approve 4-5 stories if they put a grocery store on the bottom floor. Suburban neighborhoods won't change. There'll simply be islands of density. The main thing is to make sure conveniences exist nearby so they don't get in the car for tiny things.

32 people like this
Posted by Chips and Salsa
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

The solution is not more housing. The solution is for these companies like Google, Apple, Facebook to move jobs to other areas where housing exists to accommodate job growth!

29 people like this
Posted by Kyle, please
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jul 30, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Kyle really? Thats the worst idea I've ever heard.

19 people like this
Posted by Tax dodging doesn't help
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Maybe if these tech companies paid their fair share of taxes rather than trying to hide money overseas to pay as little as possible, local cities would have more money for affordable housing units (and better schools). This would help to offset some of the negative changes these companies bring.

Also, given the picture posted above, it looks like Palo Alto and Los Altos should be building more housing. They are the ones with the biggest gaps. Why is there this expectation that Mountain View is the only city that needs to build more housing? I think we've done quite enough will the thousands of new units we have in the pipeline. Time for Palo Alto and Los Altos to step up.

11 people like this
Posted by Differences
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Los Altos is a net housing provider. It has more residences than jobs.

For example, between the time Mountain View's population went from 70,800 to 77,765 the story with it's daytime population growth changed much more. It had grown by 18,972 each day, but at the later point it would grow by 35,072 per day. So, it added 16,000 more jobs than it added to its population, or about 23,000 new jobs and 7,000 more residents.

In Los Altos, the population went from 27,600 to 30,400. It's daytime population went from declining by 1875 to only declining by 1215. So it added almost as many new residents as it did new jobs, or about 3450 new jobs and 2800 new residents.

You really need to look at the change in daytime population to judge the whole story,

The situation in Mountain View got much worse because of the 16,000 new commuters coming into the city after subtracting out the number who leave the city for work each day. In Palo Alto over the same time the relative change was only 14,000 (net new commuters coming to the city adjusting for those who leave the city).

17 people like this
Posted by Thinking Less
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 30, 2016 at 8:07 pm

Too many thinkers that are economically illiterate. Government has restricted the supply of housing while job growth has continued. Los Altos may have more housing than jobs but it has even higher housing prices. At least MTN Views does try to increase the supply of housing. We have far better public services in Mtn View .

9 people like this
Posted by Never say ENOUGH
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 31, 2016 at 5:21 am

Guardino will next explain: If you ever say "enough," all of the gold turns to clay. That should keep 'em quiet. Corporations must grow or account. Sure, living here will be hell. But Silicon Valley corporations own most of the politicians and the corporations only profit by selling something, or pretending to be able to sell something, and cutting costs.

19 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2016 at 7:05 am

The cause of rising housing costs in places like Mountain View is simple: it serves the interests of voters. People who own the decaying shacks that pass for housing in Mountain View either love the massive appreciation they have seen, or carry a massive mortgage and are terribly afraid of any dip in housing values. And voters are intuitively smart about what to do to keep housing prices increasing: oppose high-density housing, increase public spending on new services and infrastructure (mostly paid for by new arrivals due to Prop 13), create below market rate housing (a double whammy: it takes up space and drives up prices without competing with existing housing), vote for rent control. And companies have no choice but to go along with this because most of their more senior employees own property in the area.

I don't blame Mountain View property owners for their selfish voting patterns; but please spare us who don't share in your fortune your self-righteousness and smugness. The problem isn't with developers or corporations, the problem is with you.

And please do realize that while this gravy train may last a little longer, it's not going to last forever. Techies like me need peace, quiet, no hassles, and big garages so that we can focus on innovation, and Silicon Valley doesn't provide that anymore.

26 people like this
Posted by Peace Out
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2016 at 12:06 pm

It is possible to love something to death. I have owned a residence in Mountain View for many years, and had planned to spend the rest of my life living in that residence, however, the rapid densification & urbanization, and all that has come along with that densification & urbanization - including more regulations, higher taxes, more 'fees', less services, more (and more constant) noise pollution, air pollution, light pollution, less open all adds up to a lower quality of life, at least the kind of life I would like to live, and more stress. I don't want to live the rest of my live what I consider to be a grossly urbanized and stressful environment. Not my cup of tea. So, with much sorrow, I will eventually sell my residence and relocate to somewhere better suited for the life I want to live. The life that for many years, Mountain View provided me. This has nothing to do with "cashing out" and everything to do with quality of life. (FYI, there isn't going to be a lot of "cashing out" to be had after the loan is paid off...i'm just getting out.)

26 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2016 at 12:34 pm

"Tax dodging. . ." wrote: "Maybe if these tech companies paid their fair share of taxes rather than trying to hide money overseas to pay as little as possible, . . ."

A good example of envy-based emotional reasoning -- a reflex adored by politicians and demagogues, who can reliably sway masses with it.

The reality is, "tech companies" pay EXACTLY their "fair share," as defined not by bar talk but by US laws. Otherwise there'd be criminal indictments. US laws incentivize these firms to locate some activities overseas, and if their financial managers didn't do so, they'd be incompetent (and fired). Cynical US politicians, insatiably pursuing ever-more tax dollars to buy votes and repay the backers who got them elected, play the envy card to a gullible public that would never see real benefits anyway if those tax increases happened. "Thinking Less" nailed it above: "Too many thinkers that are economically illiterate."

"Fair" is a great emotionally-charged rhetoric word, picked up in early childhood. Often in practice meaning "more for me."

16 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 31, 2016 at 6:19 pm

To Mr. Noack: THANK YOU! YES! YES!

To my fellow readers:
"Maybe if these tech companies paid their fair share of taxes rather than trying to hide money overseas to pay as little as possible, local cities would have more money..."
Not so fast. Companies can dodge federal and state taxes to some extent, but not local taxes, which are based on property value.

@Kyle: "Suburban neighborhoods won't change. There'll simply be islands of density."
That's what I want too. I have nothing against suburban neighborhoods (see also @Peace Out). What I do want to see is El Camino transformed into a continuous mixed-use neighborhood, 4+ stories, all the way from San Bruno to Santa Clara. Likewise Rengstorff, Old Middlefield, Moffett Blvd. That would add 10,000 more people without disrupting the quiet, low-density areas that people like so much.

@Peace Out: "So, with much sorrow, I will eventually sell my residence and relocate to somewhere better suited for the life I want to live."
I feel for you, my friend. I understand the appeal of a two-car garage with a backyard for the kids to play in. (I even lived in one for a while, as a teenager.) But it's not always possible to predict what a city will look like in 30 years. And for my part, in spite of being an engineer and making so much money I'm a little ashamed of myself, I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford to buy anything more than a two-bedroom condo in this area.

7 people like this
Posted by Adam
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 1, 2016 at 1:08 am

ivg, you make some excellent points!

Mountain View could massively increase housing while, at the same time, keeping much of the city at a low height. Transforming El Camino and other major thoroughfares by building up (why not 10, 20 stories?!) would not only let us add lots of housing, but would also locate people near restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Of course, then we'd likely be faced with an exacerbated transit problem :\.

No completely easy answers...

6 people like this
Posted by Sure...
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

I've been here over 11 years now, so I've seen a lot change. In particular, I've seen a lot of office parks get torn down. You know what almost never gets torn down and rebuilt? Apartments. Even the most poorly constructed off-base housing from an era where all the film has turned pink, nope those are still there, and have been refurbished (case in point, the apartment complex opposite Google on Whisman.)

So it seems clear to me that land use is only fit for offices, that redevelopment is only fit for offices, that the city council's past and current priorities are just: offices

What a depressing outcome.

11 people like this
Posted by Sure...
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:34 am

Point being... offices are evaluated for increased density all the time. Build higher, fit more people in, open floorplans, smaller workspaces. And somehow that's okay.

But on balance, nobody seems to be meaningfully looking at existing multi-tenant housing to redevelop and scale up, or giving incentives to do so.

Inevitably you've got a segment of NIMBYs in Mountain View, who will come out against housing because of a trumped-up schooling issue, when they are oddly silent about the office issue. The council is an issue, compensation of city employees is a long issue, but we have a real cancer in Mountain View which is the NIMBYs who have enabled this conflicting set of concerns and perverse outcomes in a city that, whether some may like it or not, is foremost a city of renters.

6 people like this
Posted by Solutions
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 1, 2016 at 10:15 am

I always enjoy these posts because housing is always a thorny issue that raises a lot of heated debate. A lot of comments/posts are typically sentimental with offerings of complaints but providing no real solution(s). Ok, I understand there are two major hurdles to increased housing around the south bay:

1) Offices/jobs bring in more money for cities, and cities with capitalistic endeavors will clearly avoid money-losing housing.
2) Extant home owners readily bond to form a sort of housing cartel. They love more jobs/offices, as that will only bring in more jobs locally, thus inflating their already well-inflated home prices. Any additional housing will lower housing demand, thus lowering their own property values.

1) Similar to boycotting, job seekers can seek jobs elsewhere. This is harder to accomplish if you already have family in the area and/or were born/raised here.
2) Bulldoze the efforts of the housing cartels. This likely will be in the poor interest of city council members, however, as the housing cartels are likely the ones to vote them into office in the first place!
3) Build more housing. This sounds like a fairly obvious solution, but as summarized by the article and by other comments above, there are of course many limitations and hurdles. This includes higher-density and higher-heights zoning rules.
4) Stop inviting more jobs and/or pare down existing jobs. This is of course controversial - why would cities let money-making jobs/offices/companies bounce elsewhere to another city?
5) Vote for council members who will support housing solutions - but oh wait, who has the voting rights? Landlords and homeowners...and I don't think either wants increased housing.

I'm out of ideas for now. These are fairly crude ideas. What other possible solutions exist? Please share :)

6 people like this
Posted by Incorrect Stylized Fact
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 1, 2016 at 11:18 am

1) Offices/jobs bring in more money for cities, and cities with capitalistic endeavors will clearly avoid money-losing housing.

In fact multi story housing brings in just as much or more revenue per acre than retail and commercial. Unfortunately , urban planners fail to allocate costs correctly, which is why the typical fiscalization of land use dogma is invoked but is incorrect.

11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Is there a way for these companies to hire more local people (who already have local housing) instead of mostly immigrants?

6 people like this
Posted by Never say ENOUGH
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 1, 2016 at 2:07 pm

The Silicon Valley corporate executives will not tolerate being limited to hiring only persons already in the USA. Someone might unoinize. No. Their "freedom" requires that they may import labor and subject the nation to all associated costs. And Trump and Clinton will play along, if elected.

10 people like this
Posted by Tax Revenue
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:36 pm

If 1000 Googlers take up residence in MV displacing 1000 non-Googlers, then the city loses tax revenue. How? Well, if each resident spends $ 300 less per month on restaurant dining, then that's sales tax on $3,600,000 per year that the city loses. Google doesn't charge employees for lunch, dinner or breakfast which they provide daily on request. That is a lot of lost revenue for businesses in the city.

Conversely, Google has no sales tax revenue of its own to feed the city's coffers.

Things have changed a lot in terms of what both residents and businesses do to feed the city budget.

3 people like this
Posted by Job Growth
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Someone ought to figure county-wide what the effect of this projected and hoped job growth will be on the local population over time. How many 1000's of new non-citizens will be needed to feed the machine of tech job growth? Couldn't/Shouldn't some of this work be done overseas?

8 people like this
Posted by @Common sense
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 1, 2016 at 9:51 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

I didn't say companies need to pay their "legal" share of taxes. I know they pay what is legally mandated. I personally don't think they pay enough. They have a stated high rate, but with loopholes we all know they pay far less and go to great lengths to find ways around paying what the law states they should pay. You may disagree with that and think they pay enough. That's fine. My comment was that I think they should pay more, and I would happily vote to change the law if that's what was required.

"Fair" in this case doesn't mean "more for me". I wouldn't see any of it. I wouldn't qualify for (or need) affordable housing and I don't use the underfunded public schools. But Google places a burden on this city in terms of housing, traffic and schools, so I would like to see them pay more to compensate for some of the negatives they bring to this city.

5 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 1, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Thank you for the shout-out!
"Of course, then we'd likely be faced with an exacerbated transit problem"
It's true that adding people along major thoroughfares would "create a lot of trips", as a planner might say. But then it would justify putting in more transit. Sensible, high-frequency bus routes would connect the high-density corridors to Caltrain stations. A high-density El Camino could actually support BRT, together with comparable service on currently neglected north-south routes (Mathilda, Lawrence, etc.)

"Is there a way for these companies to hire more local people (who already have local housing) instead of mostly immigrants?"
The whole point of this article is, we've run out of local people. Unemployment is pretty low now, and people are commuting from miles and miles away. Local employees are adding thousands and thousands of jobs, and whether those people come from New York or Bangalore, they still need places to live.

@Anonymous person who keeps posting under different names:
"They have a stated high rate, but with loopholes we all know they pay far less and go to great lengths to find ways around paying what the law states they should pay."
I'm still waiting for you to explain how companies can avoid municipal and county taxes.

5 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Mountain View like most communities in California has no Municipal tax on businesses. Whenver this is proposed, the businesses always complain. San Francisco has a tax on business, but that is rare. Recently some cities in the North County, including Mountain View and Palo Alto) have talked about creating a municipal tax on businesses, but this has
not come to pass.

A business which owns property pays property tax to the County Tax Collector who distributes it according to state formula. The biggest chunk goes to school districts, from TK to Community College. Some does go to the city, but it is not a municipal tax. Some goes to county agencies. The state essentially benefits from what goes to school districts because the state makes up the difference to get all districts to a certain level out of is (primarily) income tax revenue.

Sales tax doesn't got to school districts, but does go to the county, state and VTA. Businesses like LinkedIn and Google don't pay much if any sales tax, because they sell services. Services are exempt from Sales tax, but there has been talk of changing that.

BTW, I'm not the person who posted the 3rd quote you made in the last post. I just take exception to your implication that there are municipal taxes at play in the case of North Bayshore corporate occupants. There aren't, beyond some very minimal fee-based collections for services.

14 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2016 at 12:00 am

The poster who first wrote as "Tax dodging doesn't help / a resident of Rex Manor" Jul 30, then admitted being "@Common sense / a resident of Rex Manor" today, illustrates a particular approach: if you can't logically answer someone's point at all, call them names.

This person also displays inattention to this website and its Terms of Use, since multiple screen names in one thread are regularly grounds for deletion.

11 people like this
Posted by WOW
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 6:49 am

@Mike - Wow bitter much?

4 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

"I just take exception to your implication that there are municipal taxes at play in the case of North Bayshore corporate occupants."
I'm not sure what you're saying here. But this whole fiscal argument goes back to Joe Simitian's claim of the "fiscalization of land use", quoted in the article. I don't claim to understand entirely how it works, but I think I trust Joe Simitian on this. Maybe the idea is this: all property owners pay local property taxes, but residents also create costs for the school district.

Sadly, not any more bitter than some people who post here about housing construction destroying the city.

8 people like this
Posted by Maria
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 2, 2016 at 8:47 am

Don't blame it on the cities-there's only so much building that can happen. Blame it on the lack of transportation. I was just in France and the trains make it so convenient to live outside of Paris. I'm sure most young professionals want to live in Paris, but like the Bay Area-it's cost prohibitive.
We need to ramp up all ways to get in and out of this area...and it can't happen in 10 years, it needs to happen now. Obviously, the roads in Mtn View and surrounding areas have reached capacity- so other ways to get into this area need to be implemented ASAP- it is was quite shortsightedness in these administration departments to not see this coming!

11 people like this
Posted by Transportation Not the Problem
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2016 at 9:30 am

Paris is like San Francisco around 40 square miles of land.

It's convenient to work in San Francisco and live anywhere in the Bay Area.

The issue is that companies are building monster offices in the suburbs and then kvetching that it's not convenient to commute to that particular extremity for anyone living in the entire Bay Area.

The problem is too much speculative job capacity expansion, because we don't even
know for sure that the jobs will continue over time.

9 people like this
Posted by David Moore
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 9:55 am

Mountain View in particular continues to block the horizon with it's massive phase 2 project off San Antonio. After 16 years here in a nearby town home, I seriously question the motives of M-V city council members. Their greed for more commercial and corporate taxes amazes me, and their lack of any true understanding of what it takes to keep or get new residents is unbelievably shortsighted. Another project, the old HP complex that sat dormant for years, and was originally sold to the taxpayers as a combined business and housing development, instantly became yet another Google campus when Google cried foul for M-V turning down their 2014 proposal for expansion. As mentioned several times above, it is often speculation only regarding who will occupy all the space being built. I suppose with the amount of hotels being built from Grant road all the way down El Camino Real into Palo Alto, the city planners expect that workers will rent weekly rooms since their there will be no other place for them to live nearby.

9 people like this
Posted by Nihonsuki
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Aug 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

Nihonsuki is a registered user.

If you like the way things are, the answer is simple: halt growth. As long as more houses or offices are being built, it will continue to get more and more crowded. Other cities know their limits and have long range caps on growth. The Mountain View City Council doesn't seem to see this as an option. They're more interested in increasing the revenue flowing into the city regardless of the cost to the existing residents.

9 people like this
Posted by Nihonsuki
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Aug 2, 2016 at 10:53 am

Nihonsuki is a registered user.

It's not that housing CAN'T keep up with job growth, it's that it WON'T keep up with job growth because of the current policies of the city councils.

4 people like this
Posted by Fact checker
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm

MV Voice, I love this article. So thorough. Cites all sides. Great job.

I do have to bicker with the captions of the photos, which over-sensationalizes the problem. Two of the people cited are said to live off of La Avenida, and it took more than an hour to get work "today."

1) The most distant part of La Avenida (and the mobile home community adjacent to it) is 1/2 mile from Sports Page. It's never an hour's drive, even at the worst. It's not even a drive. From that location you would just walk over.

2) If you check when Sports Page opens, it seems unlikely they spent an hour on Shoreline, unless they were coming in later and were caught in concert traffic. And that problem has very little to do with growth. That is what happens anytime you put a 20,000 person facility in a place with only two roads in and out. (Shoreline and Amphitheatre)

8 people like this
Posted by Monta Loma
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 2, 2016 at 3:07 pm

@Fact checker - Allow me to point out that putting 20,000 people - permanently - into this small area with 3 roads in/out (SA, Rengstorff), Shoreline) is exactly what our wonderful City Council is in the process of doing. 10,000 new housing units, perhaps averaging 2 persons per unit, and - what was it - 3.4 million sf of office. Then add in the concerts...We'll see how that works out...

15 people like this
Posted by Alan L.
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Fascinating---not one person has suggested that the accepted goodness of "growth" is a mistake. As an example, among other things, I belong to a service club, and the members believe that they have to do more, collect more money, and add more members each year----WHY???? It's a mistake to believe that "more" is always good. It's not, even if more people can be fed, more kiddies coddled, and more bureaucrats fed.

13 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm

True is a registered user.

So the take away here is that Chris Nault figured out what seems to elude many others.

Live where you can afford to live.

10 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Enough is enough. More glass cages and hamster wheels deteriorate our quality of life.

5 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 9, 2016 at 9:28 pm

OK, folks. Can you help me understand something? We're still in the Bay Area, right? How many of you would describe yourselves as liberal progressives? Do you care about having a low carbon footprint, and people being able to live close to work so that they can spend time with their families? Do you give food to homeless people, or do you just blame them for being lazy and screwing up their own lives? What kind of rabbit hole did I fall into, where people vote for Marc Berman and Vicki Veenker and then hold their own quality of life above all else, and the devil take anyone who can't afford $1000 a square foot? So you bought a house here 20 years ago, when mere mortals could afford to do so. What about the rest of us? Why doesn't Mountain View recharter itself as a country club? And bring out the bulldozers and push Google into the bay, while you're at it. That would solve all of your problems.

9 people like this
Posted by reside
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Aug 9, 2016 at 9:55 pm

The economy has it's up and down, no one recalls that 6 to 7 years ago you could not sell your house in Mtn View. And guess what Google now expands like crazy, nobody knows how many employees are really in all those buildings.Plus since Google doesn't make anything, no taxes. Companies would be better off to move some of their operatings where employees can afford to live.

5 people like this
Posted by Been there, did it, got a t-shirt
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

"Companies would be better off to move some of their operatings where employees can afford to live."

Yes, they did this in the 80s and 90s. They chose MV over SF. I guess the real problem is that they had wild success once they opened up shop here.

4 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 10, 2016 at 9:44 pm

@Been there: Agreed. I'm surprised how many people here seem to actually dislike the vibrant local economy. Instead of asking for Google to go away, they could cash out their houses (and that's no small cash we're talking about) and move someplace where the economy is more sluggish, like Sacramento.

4 people like this
Posted by Vibrant?
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2016 at 10:58 pm

You call the local economy vibrant; I call it a monopoly.

Too bad one monster giant company monopolizes all of the resources and pays
so little tax to any government (By keeping cash overseas even if this means
it has to borrow to do so).

Yet another problem of the artificially low interest rates which are
driving the false sensation of the economy having its head above

3 people like this
Posted by Vibrant?
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2016 at 11:06 pm

Mountain View, newly named Alphabet Soup City.


3 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 11, 2016 at 8:11 am

"You call the local economy vibrant; I call it a monopoly."
That's only true if you take MV in isolation. Google/Alphabet only employs about 18,000 people here, which is fewer than half of the employed residents. And most of those 18,000 don't live in MV, either. I have a hard time thinking of MV as a city, other than in an administrative sense. If you want to consider a more or less closed ecosystem, think of Santa Clara Valley.

"Too bad one monster giant company ... pays so little tax to any government..."
I can't believe that's unique. Don't most big companies keep money offshore? It's not a local issue; take it up with Anna Eshoo.

7 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm

True is a registered user.

I suppose Vibrant would prefer a return to the (not so) good old days when the skies above MV were filled day and night with P3's, A5's, C-130's, CH-53's (I actually really miss the military aircraft and personnel). When manufacturing companies leeched god-awful quantities of horrible chemicals into the soil. When downtown MV had a 12 story building that sat unoccupied for years with a layer of dog feces covering its ground floor. When Castro St. was a ghost town with a ton of unoccupied retail space where on a nearly weekly basis one lousy restaurant would go out of be replaced by another lousy restaurant that was soon to follow.

What a shame it is to now have our downtown bustling with new, interesting and mostly successful establishments. What a horrible thing it is to have the dozens of startups and smaller companies that have sprung up as a result of the incubator effect of having Intuit, Linkedin, Facebook, Pure..and yes, Google in close proximity. It's just awful that our community has been forced to undertake the burden of the Millions upon millions of dollars in charitable donations, grants and gifts to schools and such from those companies and their employees. What a horror it is that our community has been enriched by a heretofore unprecedented level of cultural diversity that infuses our community and schools.

Linda's and the era it occupied are gone...and we're all better off for it.

Get over it bro.

4 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Most of North Bayshore and Whisman were sites of industrial manufacturing or warehousing with some offices. We zoned acres upon acres of land for inustry and its support services.

Today makes more sense to build large mixed use projects near, around or above offices uses.

3 people like this
Posted by I-Got-mine
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 11, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Web Link

One of the solutions: Get the jobs. Find a suitable house and acreage. Visit Lo Do and other areas that have the nightlife you prefer.
The DTC is growing once the businesses find out how inexpensive per square footage is for building or building out their business. Or just set up along I-70 or I-25. Housing for an employee is also affordable. If you insist on 4 story townhouses, Englewood has high density housing because of the 30 year planning they set up for growth. Living in the foothills has never been as cost effective right now, with local chain stores and local dining as well. Plenty of hikers, horse and mountain bike trails to be shared by all. 45 minutes to Downtown Denver on I-70 and CO 74.

Now if the SFBA had done some planning ahead for their future like the Denver Metro Area has, you would have put a North spur in and built housing in the areas where the Navy housing was. Or refit Hanger One with apartments inside. Be creative, not negative in your thinking.
Or just pack up your belongings in a rented truck towing the car and head east on I-80 a thousand miles, then make a right turn at the I-25 interchange. Head west on Highway 36 to meet Google's Campus in Boulder.

Just don't tell people that I sent you.

3 people like this
Posted by redide
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Aug 11, 2016 at 8:54 pm

We are not Denver, definitely not by size or location. You should compare Denver with San Jose, not Mtn View. We are by now a one company town and a lot of us are not happy with it. It's never a good thing, lots of other town have had problems with that situation. There was a famous billboard in Seattle in the sixties: would the last person leaving please turn out the lights (after Boeing laid off most of their employees).
We are not against progress, but it needs to be controlled.

6 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 11, 2016 at 9:47 pm

True is a registered user.


That's a cute story. Boeing remains the largest private employer in Washington State. At it's peak (1998 not "ye old'e 60's) it employed roughly 122k people. As of this year, around 75k. Given the decades of efficiencies gained in manufacturing automation, the reduction in the necessity of clerical staff due to computerization and the increasing globalization of the company (there are an additional 80k employees globally (outside of WA) they're doing spectacularly.

In fact, Boeing is cranking out more airplanes today than they ever did in the (not so) good old days when that catchy but useless anecdote was born....fewer low skilled workers is a good thing. The high skilled workers (along with the aid of automation) are better...hooray modernity!

7 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 12, 2016 at 7:39 am

@True: I agree with you overall, thank you for chipping in. Except ...
"fewer low skilled workers is a good thing"
Sadly, fewer low-skilled workers means more Trump voters.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Stierlin Estates

on Sep 24, 2017 at 3:52 pm

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