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Report: Google buses reflect region in need of traffic, housing solutions

Original post made on Feb 9, 2013

Google buses rolling up and down U.S. Highway 101 symbolize the new Silicon Valley -- and are potent reminders that regional solutions are needed if the Bay Area is to stay economically vibrant, a new report states.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, February 9, 2013, 6:15 PM

Comments (19)

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Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 9, 2013 at 9:06 pm

The fact of condos in Mountain View routinely selling for $100K over asking is another symptom.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:04 pm

"Silicon Valley" should be redefined to include San Francisco, he said.

Is San Francisco really THAT hard uP?

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Posted by KRS
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with this article. Having moved here from the Midwest, I am amazed at how the Bay Area's transportation system is seemingly designed to insist that parents, employees, nearly everyone is compelled to sacrifice time and energy in wasteful commutes. There are most certainly better ways of moving ourselves around - we have a first-rate disaster of a set of over-burdened highways in an otherwise first-rate area of the world.

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Posted by John S.
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 10, 2013 at 8:07 am

All the real jobs in "Silicon Valley" moved to Austin, Texas years ago.
Public transportation is only good if you work "bankers hours", i.e., 8-5.
Most of the "new" jobs are going to non-citizens on unlimited L-1 visas.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2013 at 8:21 am

As I have saying all along to people, you have hit the nail on the head.

Yes it was good that we saved mountains, hills, wetlands, farmland, cattle land, coast land, I am fine with it. But who will save us from long commutes, traffic filled highways, lousy transit, creative time lost, family time lost and work time lost.

We lose sleep, eat fast food, get far and live in boxes, we just don't have time. Having open space is good but do you have the time to enjoy or do just suffer the long commute, long work hours of living in the bay area.

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Posted by Oracle of OMG
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

To what inanity does the following irrelevant statement apply?

"Silicon Valley" should be redefined to include San Francisco, he said.

The author would be at least credible if he were to offer some possible solutions. Any local resident can make the same comments about the transportation system. Over 40 years ago when I moved to Sunnyvale and roads were widened, a person from LA said this area will become just like LA. I thought surely that is not possible but it is. Our situation has even greater problems than LA as most of our major arteries run north and south whereas LA is more spread out. All of us long time resident know the story. Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Fremont, Pleasanton, Livermore and then Modesto, Stockton et al were developed as folks could not afford to live in Silicon Valley. So the traffic flow has increased to the level of increasing traffic accidents resulting in hours long tie-ups, increased commute time etc...

Is it possible that there is not a financially viable solution to our commute problem? Perhaps Texas will benefit greatly when more and more companies realize the traffic problems, along with our state leaders hostile business environment and constantly increasing taxes from our liberal leaders make staying here or increasing business here is just not worth it. Buy your homes now in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston while you can get a really good price.

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Posted by Mark
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

How does this article jump from complaining about how hard it is to commute from SF to the valley to concluding that we need to build more houses in the valley?

Tech workers don't live in SF because it is more affordable. They live there because they like the city life and they don't want to live in the valley. Building more houses down here isn't going to convince them to leave the city. They'd prefer if the jobs moved up to SF.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

Today people like the idea of living in a city, taking transit to work. Around here you have garden style apartment, really poor transit options, car centered burn with job growth. Don't turn all of Mountain View, just small parts.

Today in the big paper, reporting on how bad traffic has became. Just like LA, got news for you, we are now like LA.

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Posted by Kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm

"along with our state leaders hostile business environment and constantly increasing taxes from our liberal leaders make staying here or increasing business here is just not worth it."

@oracle, you said that right! With the Feds now taking more then 39% of your income, and then the state taking 10% more, that means 1/2 the year you are working for the government. The rest of the yr you are working for others.

Oh wait, now that the Libs have control of the Gov., wait till they start raising the property taxes and basically getting rid of Prop 13.

Then the real migration will start.

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Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I agree with the report: we need public transport to be coordinated across county lines. The company shuttles mentioned in the article prove that you can live at one end of Silicon Valley and work at the other... if you have coordinated transport. This is only available to employees of certain large tech firms today, but a regional agency can make it available to everybody.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Slater
on Feb 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

My wife retired from a law firm in P.A. where a significant number of the young attorneys prefer to live in San Francisco because of the lifestyle there. I have four Google households for neighbors, one of which has their main home in SF and a Monday/ Friday home in M.V. You cannot force people to live in an area close to their work, as there is still some freedom in this country to choose where one lives. The jobs/ housing balance is a totally bogus concept as it treats people like they are chips on a wafer packing them in ever more closely. It is ones choice to work and live where one wishes, and that decision often includes a sizable commute. Many people like living in Santa Cruz and gladly drive Hwy 17 to work in the valley. Finally, if you think that things are screwed up now, wait till we get Regional Government.

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Posted by Herve
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Bob, you have it partly right. Why do people like to live in SF? They like the city lifestyle, but what makes cities have that character? It is the density, among other things. The spread-out suburbs are lifeless and boring. Of course you can't make a vibrant city just by packing people close together, but you also can't make one without doing so.

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Posted by Greg Perry
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 11, 2013 at 6:58 pm

The article is right that we have a very high regional cost per rider.

But the reason has little to do with fragmented agencies. MUNI and VTA simply spend more to run a bus for one hour than almost any other transit agency in the country.

Merging them together, under existing contracts and management, is unlikely to result in serious internal reform. If anything, it would result in one more layer of obfuscation, and thus one more barrier to reform.

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Posted by Adam Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 11, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Another layer of government can only make things worse, not better.

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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:24 am

Now that the Moffett Field airport is surplus it provides a great place for housing, close to jobs including Google jobs.

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Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I think Herve's comment above hits the nail on the head. Young creative class members want to work down here because that's where most of the jobs that interest them are (for the time being), but they want to live in SF because they like the lifestyle and character that the city offers. The challenge for the South Bay is to figure out how to grow sensibly in key areas so that we create nodes of urbanity amongst the sea of suburbanity. As Herve points out, density is part of the equation. Fortunately, we don't need to have density everywhere to make things work - all you single-family homeowners who worry that your neighborhood will be torn down for apartments, no need to worry - but you need nodes of density, with shops, interesting places to walk and bike to, parks, and schools.

Tying in a thread from another Voice article (on the development occurring at San Antonio and El Camino), I think we're on the right track in that area. It is on its way to becoming a node of urbanity. Once the new development settles in, we're going to see a lot more young people walking and biking in that area. Now the challenge is to make it safer and more pleasant to do so. And to figure out the schools issue.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2013 at 8:04 pm

The problem is we have catered to the car so much, we drive to and from work, we drive to the store, we even drive to pick up food. We haven't even done a good job.

See Dumbarton Bridge, western half gets dumped on residential street with traffic lights and 25 mph limits. Eastern half doesn't even go to 680.

Public transit, do I need to say more, people working in the SV and living in San Francisco can't take MUNI too work, not all companies have shuttles.

Housing here seems to be one sided, yes people want the american dream but they also don't want to live in a single story single family home with a large lot. They need lots of open space, parks near them and large sized schools with small number of kids. I will be happy with a 1 bedroom sized cottage.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Joint Venture Silicon Valley
SF Planning and Urban Research Association
I don't know what their agendas are, or who's best interests they're representing, but they sure aren't mine.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Slater
on Feb 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm

My response to Herve and those who would endeavor to make MV an urban area is that those of us who came before, chose MV and surrounding areas for the simple reason that they were low density suburban communities. San Francisco was always an option but one we did not choose. Some of us enjoy grass,gardens and real yards where our children can safely play, along with the slower paced lifestyle. I am in no way condemning San Francisco or the urban lifestyle if that is what you like, but please don't believe for one minute that one can achieve urban parity with SF by destroying MV's suburban heritage. You would have a better chance of attaining that goal in San Jose. MV by heritage, temperament and design is suburban. It is simply a matter of weighing values;living close to your work in an environment you don't enjoy vs living where you wish and commuting to work.
The concept of urban nodes or pockets successfully coexisting in a predominantly suburban area is a challenge and the transition areas are where the battles are fought. Perhaps in the future, when those of us who appreciate the suburban lifestyle, die or move away, younger people will replace us and perhaps then MV will rival SF as an urban hub, but until that day comes MV will remain as it is and has been.

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