Our last issue featured the Brisbane and Santa Clara paradoxes. This week we move you to South San Francisco and Cupertino. Once again our theme is Anti-Gravity Economics known as J2H ratios.
Anti-gravity Hiding in Plain Sight
“The Bay Area is defying gravity,” said Director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. Another UCLA economist reported our the region “is the most dynamic, most robust metro area.” Good news weighed must have heavily upon the audience.
All economists always hedge; so here are their other perspectives. “Too much retail…too many retail jobs.” “Tech jobs more volatile than non-tech.” “Expensive housing market…perhaps the greatest peril.” “Tech boom could create a wider chasm between economic haves and have nots.”
Topping it off Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “We have economic bifurcation…..Palo Alto versus East Palo Alto…Tenderloin versus the Marina District….two different worlds in one city.”
Ed. Comment: Job growth is out of sync with transportation infrastructure. Infrastructure imbalance will create political upheaval. What kind of upheaval will be determined by the voters.
Cupertino’s jobs/housing ratio is swinging into full debate in Cupertino. Here is a good glimpse of what is evolving.
Ed Comment: Keep your eye on an issue beyond housing shortages. Is anyone accountable for overall infrastructure? Cupertino’s fragile transportation infrastructure is just one example of the Peninsula’s indigestible job growth.
Digging for Housing
A development company proposing a transformative project along Oyster Point in South San Francisco is backing away from housing. Why?… Pushback from the local biotech industry.
Ed. Comment: Are bio-tech companies are opening up their shells for housing at Oyster Bay? No, they seem to be clamming up for housing.
We are looking for better leadership and better trends, but Oyster Bay plunged us into murky waters. To paraphrase The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “Housing, housing everywhere but not a home to buy.” For the record, we think South San Francisco and its bio-tech titans have some explaining to do. There is no plausible evidence that housing supply can catch up with the number of jobs being created by short-term focused CEOs. If a bird, any bird, even an albatross, leads us out of the housing jam, we will praise the bird.
Sen. Wiener’s bill was chilled by San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This polarizing bill “that would force California cities to allow taller apartment buildings by BART stops and other transit hubs has been pummeled with opposition from local officials.”
“….San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to oppose Wiener’s bill, joining smaller cities such as Lafayette, Cupertino, Palo Alto and Milpitas. A week earlier, the Los Angeles City Council took the same stance, unanimously, with one councilman calling the legislation “insanity.”
Ed. Comment: SB827 and other related legislation will be in active committee debate by state legislature dominated by one party. These bills challenge conventional economics. And they would alter balance between state and local government. Our prediction: Profound and interesting test of government. What does Wiener really want?
Whom to Trust?
Google’s former motto “Don’t Be Evil” resides in the minds of thousands of Google employees. Over 3,000 employees signed a protest letter highlighting Google’s involvement with a Department of Defense project. The letter stated “We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties. Google’s stated values make this clear: Every one of our users is trusting us. Never jeopardize this. Ever. This contract puts Google’s reputation at risk and stands in direct opposition to our core values.”
Ed. Comment: Internalizing corporate ethics could be the best cure for pain felt by some of our Tech Titans. Google may need two slogans. “Don’t be evil” and “Do the right thing.” If one smart slogan is good, then two should be better.
If Google needs government business, we suggest knocking on the door of the EPA.
156 Mayors Come Clean on Green
Climate change seems to be one of the foremost concerns for U.S. mayors: Eight out of 10 said it was important that their cities to address the issue. But roughly half view the lack of funding as the most significant barrier to making progress on this front—more than political opposition at the state and federal level and lack of public support.
Ed comment: Mayors can’t turn green without green in their pockets. Many of us fret about the environment, EPA and future generations; however, this survey of mayors is most revealing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Nowhere in the US is lack of transportation infrastructure more severe than the Peninsula and we see job creation outpacing any solutions for transportation infrastructure. We are in the same boat as the 156 mayors….searching blindly for sources of funding. One thing is obvious: Traffic congestion will get worse before it gets better…if ever.
Los Angeles Times Speaks Out
Los Angeles Times speaks out. “Facebook finally steps up on privacy. Now it’s Congress’s turn.”
Ed. Comment: The full story will be more than Facebook. We remain uncomfortable with the group thinking in Silicon Valley and its one company towns.