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Regional plan aims to ease traffic by boosting housing

Road map for Bay Area growth paints a sustainable future, but with a lot of assumptions

Bay Area city and county officials approved a massive plan last week that promises to turn the tide on gridlock traffic and high housing costs that have gone from bad to worse over the last decade. The long-range plan, known as Plan Bay Area 2040, provides the blueprint for how much housing would be needed -- and where it ought to be built -- to have sustainable growth across the Bay Area between now and 2040.

On a 41-2 vote, elected leaders serving on the executive board of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved the latest update to Plan Bay Area, which proposes a path where the region essentially builds its way out of the affordability crisis. The plan calls for 820,000 new homes -- accompanied by 1.3 million new jobs -- between 2010 and 2040, nearly half of which would be centrally located in the "Big 3" cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

If all goes according to plan, MTC staff predict the planned growth would go a long way toward reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and keep up with the housing demand that will come from expected job increases in the area.

The primary thrust of the plan is that the region needs to fix, or at least take the edge off, the growing housing crisis in the Bay Area. Data provided by ABAG shows that rental costs, adjusted for inflation, have nearly doubled in the Bay Area since the 1970s, and low-income families are spending more than half their paychecks on housing and transportation costs. An estimated 500,000 "lower-income" households are at risk of displacement in the Bay Area, a majority of whom live in Santa Clara, San Francisco and Alameda counties.

At the same time, commute times and traffic congestion are at the highest level on record for the Bay Area.

Whether or not Plan Bay Area's growth projections will be close to reality remains to be seen. Although the plan sets estimates for all 101 Bay Area cities and towns, MTC and ABAG have little say in whether any of the housing gets built. Local control remains in the hands of individual municipal governments, and there's a host of ways cities can choose to slow down or prevent growth from happening. The assumption is that local jurisdictions are going to put their best foot forward to follow the plan, and that a package of incentives, including money for planning and transportation projects, should be enough to encourage sustainable growth.

An average of about 27,300 housing units per year would be a significant U-turn for the nine-county region, which has seen decreases in overall housing production since the 1970s. More recent data from ABAG is hardly encouraging: Permits issued for new housing between 2007 and 2014 show the region is already off to a bad start, with the addition of only 123,098 homes during the seven-year period.

One of the hardest parts of the plan to digest is how these growth projections are created and whether they're a best-guess estimate or an ambitious goal -- a question that was answered more than once in the final meetings leading up to the vote on Plan Bay Area. ABAG President Julie Pierce, a member of the Clayton City Council, told her colleagues at the July 26 meeting that the growth targets are created by a complex "UrbanSim" calculation that determines what the developer market would build based on information like city zoning and general plans, traffic data, land values and development costs. In other words, the estimates give a realistic picture of what Bay Area growth would look like if market forces drove development between now and 2040.

Where will the housing go?

A staggering 77 percent of all the new housing growth is projected to be built on less than 5 percent of the Bay Area's land in so-called Priority Development Areas (PDAs), specific regions that local cities and counties elect for concentrated, higher-density growth. These PDAs tend to be located along transit lines and near job centers, and play a critical role in meeting the goals laid out in Plan Bay Area.

High-growth cities like Mountain View embraced the idea of PDAs, designating its East Whisman, North Bayshore, El Camino and the San Antonio Shopping Center areas as major locations for future growth. These plans translate into an estimated 82 percent increase in the city's housing stock -- from 31,957 to 58,300 homes -- between 2010 and 2040, putting Mountain View among the top 15 cities that will serve as "key locations for the Bay Area's future households and jobs." Pierce told the Voice in an email last week that cities volunteering for high growth are first in line for MTC funding to plan growth as well as discretionary transportation funding.

Mountain View's neighbor, the city of Palo Alto, went a different direction by designating only one area, in the California Avenue region, as a PDA, opting against volunteering its downtown or El Camino Real corridor as candidates for high growth through the regional plan. Palo Alto is one of only a few cities along the entire stretch of El Camino Real that opting against designating the thoroughfare as a PDA, leaving a small Midpeninsula gap on a near-unanimous plan to concentrate development in the area.

Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff, who serves on ABAG's executive board, told the Voice last month that the decision was made in order to retain complete control over the city's future development, and that electing to add more PDAs means the city could be pressured by the state to build more housing than its residents are comfortable with in the coming years.

"We want to be able to chart our own destiny," Scharff said. "If you choose to make something a PDA, you're saying 'Give us more development.'"

All carrots, no sticks

Now that the Bay Area has a road map for 820,000 homes by 2040, how much of it is actually going to get built? That's the big question facing ABAG and MTC, neither of which have the power to force cities and counties to adopt land use policies, zone for the growth or approve any development that would advance the goals of the newly approved Plan Bay Area.

Despite that challenging reality, public perception of the plan as a top-down, regional dictate that forces lower-density suburbs to accelerate construction and build up has been an ongoing challenge for the joint agency. The plan's FAQ web page is littered with language denying the loss of local control and demonstrating the elective nature of the job and housing estimates. Even at the July 26 meeting, MTC staff continued to stress that Plan Bay Area does not "usurp" local control, and that California government code states that nothing in the plan should be interpreted as "superseding the exercise of the land use authority of cities and counties within the region."

Plan Bay Area is a state-mandated plan under state law SB 375, which requires that the region adopt a "Sustainable Communities Strategy" that can demonstrate future growth and development will result in a reduction in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions. The housing and job growth in the updated Plan Bay Area is separate from the state's eight-year Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) cycle, which requires cities to update so-called housing elements to zone for enough housing to keep up with population growth.

But depending on whom you ask, even the RHNA cycle hardly has any teeth. A 2017 report by the state's Housing and Community Development department points out that although the state can compel cities to zone for housing, there's no shortage of ways to keep it from being built. A lengthy and burdensome development review process, along with community opposition, can severely limit the type of housing that can be built and prevent projects from penciling out for prospective developers. The report specifically calls out Palo Alto residents for placing a measure on the ballot to overturn plans for a 60-unit low-income senior housing project.

Plan Bay Area's detachment from any mandatory land use policies wasn't enough to assuage concerns from Brisbane city officials, who showed up in full force at the July 26 meeting with frustrated demands to revoke the housing projections for the small city south of San Francisco. Plan Bay Area projects that a massive 684-acre baylands site located in Brisbane could accommodate 4,400 new homes, but city officials say it's hardly a done deal and simply one proposal by the developer who owns the property.

The projections may not affect the RHNA allocation of the city, but it does make a big difference if the higher housing number is included in the plan, said Brisbane council member Madison Davis. She said it's entirely possible Brisbane will be on the hook for 4,400 new homes in the next iteration of the RHNA process, and the city would be compelled to move forward with the development in order to tap into discretionary transportation funding.

"On the one hand, we're told that Plan Bay Area doesn't dictate local land use, yet on the other hand, it appears that the city could be financially punished for exercising our local land use in a way that displeases MTC," Davis said.

Brisbane's Mayor Pro Tem Clarke Conway called the growth expectations for the city "ludicrous," and demanded the joint agency's executive committee members delay a vote on Plan Bay Area and its environmental impact report until after the city's decision on the baylands project in late August.

"You need to stop listening to this executive planning director and do the right thing," he said, pointing at MTC staff members. "Table this 'til September, otherwise this guy, this staff and his counsel, are pulling you into the legal arena."

Scott Lane, a member of MTC's policy advisory council, said he fully embraces Plan Bay Area and understands the Bay Area is already be something close to 300,000 housing units behind on new demand, but said putting such a heavy burden on one city amounts to "utter insanity" that puts MTC at risk of a lawsuit.

"This is like telling a homeowner how to develop their property," he said. "I have been for years saying MTC and ABAG need to have more jurisdictional authority and power, (but) this is an abuse of power, there's no other way to say it. Every city needs to be the master of their own domain."

Palo Alto's Scharff said he believes the fears over Bay Area's growth projections are "misguided," and that the real threats to local control reside in Sacramento. The state legislature has proposed close to 130 different bills aimed at addressing the state's housing shortage, and some aim to limit the ability of local governments to slow down or block approval of housing developments. One such bill, SB 35 authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), proposes a streamlined approval process -- or so-called "by-right" housing -- for projects that meet certain criteria within cities that are behind on meeting RHNA goals.

Wiener's proposed legislation isn't a big shock, given his comments as an MTC member last year. During a review of Plan Bay Area in November, Wiener -- who was a San Francisco supervisor at the time -- said he was uneasy with the idea that the goal of 820,000 new homes wasn't going far enough to stop displacement and stem the affordability crisis. Indeed, Plan Bay Area conceded that lower-income families will likely be paying two-thirds of their income on housing and transportation by 2040. Weiner suggested a second set of numbers be produced that showed the break-even point for housing affordability.

Scharff, on the other hand, argued at the Nov. 17 meeting that MTC and ABAG ought to go in the opposite direction, and review what would happen to a broad set of performance metrics if the Bay Area failed to build the housing estimates in Plan Bay Area 2040. Scharff later told the Voice that the plan goes a long way towards preventing displacement and skyrocketing housing costs, and that a break-even point would hardly be realistic.

"Some things you just can't fix -- there's no lever you can pull to change that that's reasonable," he said. "I think you want to have a realistic plan about what's really going to happen as opposed to something that's aspirational."

After a lengthy back-and-forth among MTC and ABAG members about the fate of Brisbane's jobs and housing estimates, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he was disappointed by the dialogue that veered away from handling a very real housing crisis in the region. His original plan, he said, was to vote no on Plan Bay Area because it doesn't go "nearly far enough" to resolve the jobs-housing imbalance in the region, and that it lacks the teeth needed to force cities and jurisdictions to "bear the responsibility for housing that we are clearly not bearing as a region." And this is in spite of San Jose fighting to balance out its jobs-housing ratio by attracting more jobs in recent years -- not housing.

"I represent a city that has, among the major cities in the United States, the worst jobs-housing ratio," he said. "We're the only major city in the United States that actually has a smaller daytime population than nighttime population."

Liccardo added that the entire Bay Area needs to come together to fight an affordability crisis that makes traffic intolerable and could make it impossible for the next generation to live in the Bay Area because jobs are located in "jobs-rich communities" and all the housing is located elsewhere.

"As long as smaller jobs-rich towns are not willing to take their responsibility for housing, we will continue to perpetuate exactly what we have now," he said.

A big opportunity

Amid the multi-year process of updating Plan Bay Area, both MTC and ABAG began the slow process of combining forces as a joint agency, consolidating staff from both agencies and retaining a firm to make sure both agencies have "better and deeper relationships" and a "shared sense of purpose," according to a January merger update. Although the vague platitudes hardly go into detail on what it will mean to have a combined regional planning agency in the Bay Area, some housing advocates are already calling it a big win.

A June report released by the Nonprofit Housing Association (NPH) of Northern California called the merger a tremendous opportunity to use MTC's transportation planning and wealth of funding in conjunction with ABAG's "sophisticated housing expertise" in a way that finally addressed the dearth of housing being built in the Bay Area. Sustainable housing growth is inextricably linked with the region's transportation woes, and MTC has plenty of ways to pour some of its $1.9 billion annual budget into direct investments in housing, according to the report.

"We see this as an enormous opportunity," said Amie Fishman, executive director of NPH. "We see this as a critical chance to meld transportation and housing together to make sure we're investing in the infrastructure we need."

Among the suggestions in the report, NPH is advocating for MTC to pour its reserves into a regional "infill infrastructure bank," whereby MTC would help finance infill development for transit-oriented affordable housing -- particularly in situations where the project wouldn't otherwise pencil out for a developer to build. Despite MTC's purview as a transportation commission, establishing an infill infrastructure bank is within the agency's power and could start tomorrow, said Pedro Galvao, the regional planning and policy manager for NPH.

Back in 2012, MTC launched what's called the One Bay Area Grant program, which conditioned discretionary transportation funding on whether cities have an updated housing element in their general plan and make progress toward reaching housing goals. Even though Plan Bay Area has been approved, it's still not clear how much of MTC's $74 billion in discretionary transportation funding over the next 24 years will be tied to the One Bay Area program.

Since Plan Bay Area's complex calculation for job and housing growth was based on market forces, MTC's investment may need to be geared towards the kind of housing that won't get built in today's housing market -- particularly housing for low-, very low- and extremely-low income housing, Fishman said. A diverse housing stock is going to be necessary to preserve the character of the region, she said, as the Bay Area continues to see rapid growth.

"We know there's massive growth coming, and we need to stand tall with the values that our region stands for -- that we are an inclusive, welcoming community. That needs to be reflected in our land use and policy decisions."

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Comments

25 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 5, 2017 at 8:51 am

A significant increase in housing stock is supposed to address the current "gridlock traffic" how?


28 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:25 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Joseph - It is an Orwellian lie by ABAG. More housing = more people = more commuting = more traffic


6 people like this
Posted by Chris C
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

The jobs to housing imbalance means that many people can't afford to live close to their jobs. So they commute, causing traffic.

If you give them housing options closer to work, they commute shorter distances, decreasing traffic.

If only one regional city builds housing it doesn't help traffic, as people will move there with jobs all over the region. Housing needs to be available near all the jobs.


7 people like this
Posted by Change for the better
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 5, 2017 at 10:01 am

More housing will solve the traffic problem, because more houses for people means fewer people on the road. This is not complicated and we learned this in Econ at Paly last year. Older folks need to realize that the world has changed and your old math does not apply in the world of today. We are a much more connected and, frankly, informed generation and we are solving the problems you created.


25 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2017 at 10:46 am

Change,

I think a lot of us would like to know how this works. Could you please explain the new math you learned in high school econ last year that explains how this all works? Also, what was the class and who was your teacher?


31 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2017 at 11:05 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

Do you guys notice all the buses and traffic bringing Google/Apple/Facebook worked from SF down to the peninsula and south bay? Do you think they choose to live in SF because it is cheaper? No, they live in SF because they like SF. If you build a bunch of cheap housing in Mountain View, a few might move, but mostly it will get filled with people who work elsewhere. Probably not a small number who work in SF, but want better schools.

New housing creates incrementally more traffic than it offsets, so this is disastrous planning. You can never enforce "work next to your home".


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2017 at 11:22 am

What is needed is better options for transportation from areas where housing is cheaper such as Gilroy and Morgan Hill. Express buses that are dedicated commuter buses to places of employment are needed. VTA was talking about a pilot version of this to Mountain View, but no information has been announced as to how or indeed if this is happening.

If Google can bus people from San Francisco to Mountain View, then it should be copied by other companies to take other workers in efficient luxury buses from population centers on the outlying parts of the Silicon Valley to places like Mountain View and Palo Alto.


20 people like this
Posted by College Grad
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm

@Change for the better

Have you ever lived or traveled outside of Palo Alto? ie. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. Don't believe everything you read until you have lived it.

There is a well integrated public transportation system in each of these cities and everyday there is traffic there. I do not see the traffic issue easing until the last leg of the trip issue is resolved.

Traffic is a product of population density. Ease the density and reduce traffic.


18 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

In real life math, not ABAG,,i:e land devlopers fantasy imaginary math, more people means more traffic. This real life math works this way anywhere, anytime, always. Per usual, ABAG never takes into account the enormous pressure on water supply, in an area that's already very overpopulated. ABAG is an unmitigated disaster. The only justification I see for the existence of this bloated, corrupt bureaucracy, is that we should alway do the exact of opposite of what they recommend and we will be alright.


12 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Not mentioned in this article is the projected job growth between now and 2040 of something on the order of 1.2M new jobs so that the projected housing growth will still be far less than the increased population. So unless new office space is tied to new housing nearby, the situation will get much worse. New office space should not be approved if unless enough housing is proposed within a mile to house additional workers.

The only potential improvement that I've read recently is the possibility of the HSR being functional between Bakersfield and San Jose by 2025, accompanied by major housing and job growth at stops on the HSR within 30-60 minutes commute to San Jose. Critical to the success of this dispersed housing is that the jobs would also be dispersed.

Also not addressed is that much of the proposed PDA's, including Brisbane, is very close to the SF Bay and does not take into account potential increased sea level. For example the proposed Saltworks project in Redwood City is on land that is an average of one foot above sea level - some below and some above. Although the city will be responsible for paying for the levees that would be built to protect the housing, it still seems insane to me to be building on land so close to sea level. In all the discussion of the new Facebook and Google projects, I have seen no discussion of the impact of the future rise in sea level. Super dense development in flood plains seems crazy.

Improvements to Caltrain, which is a full capacity today,are projected at a possible increase of 20% in capacity. That is not enough to handle the increased demand based on the plan above.

ABAG and MTC need to bite the bullet and look for other areas for development further from the Bay that are suitable for new mass transit. Building mass transit along 280, both in terms of dedicated bus lanes and BART or other light transit, far from the Bay, accompanied by dense housing and office building, makes far more sense than more density along 101 and El Camino whose transportation systems are already overloaded.

It is time to rethink the zoning of the foothills between Foothill and 280 and immediately west of 280. This is the only place it makes sense to increase both jobs and housing on the Peninsula.


25 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:24 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

According to the ABAG logic, London, Paris, NYC, Boston, Chicago, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, etc, should have very little traffic. They are extremely dense metropolises with mostly world class public transportation. In reality, traffic is very heavy and often chaotic there, because real life math always tells us that more population density always means more traffic.

What happens when workers change jobs and job location, as they frequently do in the super dynamic Bay area job market? Do they demand housing in the new location? Do they stay in their existing housing? What would a worker who worked in Mountain View and then changed job location to Campbell or Gilroy do?

I doubt very much that any Econ class anywhere in the world teaches that more housing means less people on the road, but if it exists, I'd love to meet the authors, as I could use a good laugh in these depressing times..


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm

mauricio, assuming you're not deluded to the point where you think regional population growth is being driven by something *other* than job growth (like ABAG) how would you imagine stopping or slowing that down? People aren't going to stop moving here because you personally feel the area is overpopulated


19 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Robert- Start by stopping the building of office space in areas that don't have the infrastructure to support the commuters it will generate. Say no to google and facebook expansions, and most definitely stop building more office space downtown and on California.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm

@john_alderman

I know that's the end result you want, my question was how you plan on actually making that happen


19 people like this
Posted by Adam
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 5, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Seems to me that ABAG is a shell company for home builders. The only way adding "820,000 new homes -- accompanied by 1.3 million new jobs" AND ease traffic, is if and only if, all those housing units are built at the job sites, all the residents work there, and none commute. That will at best keep traffic problems as they are, but not improve them. Barring that ridiculous ABAG scenario, assuming an average of 2 adults per 'new' home means an additional 1.6 million new commuters in the bay area. Traffic is more likely to get significantly worse than it already is. I have no belief that any of ABAG's projections, estimates or 'solutions' have any merit what so ever, none.


4 people like this
Posted by Laurence
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Housing reduces traffic when located near office complexes and businesses.

Housing increases traffic when built as distant suburbs or giant enclaves.

You people who want to artificially keep the housing density lower than the regional demands are directly causing suffering of families and children who aren't lucky enough to be absurdly rich or absurdly lucky to have bought a house before the tech booms. Before you callously suggest they should move if they can't afford to live here ... they can't! It costs money to move.


15 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Where's Atherton's PDA located?


8 people like this
Posted by LA2040
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:33 pm

By 2040, Bay Area traffic will be on par with Los Angeles. Mass transit just can't keep up without a 20% sales tax or gas tax.

Self-driving cars will make it less painful to sit in traffic, so more people will be able to commute further, in worse traffic.

Maybe some companies will create on-site dorms for single employees, as an incentive. But really, tech companies should be paying a livable wage of $300k/year, or running 10x more busses, instead of whining about a housing "crisis" -- while they continue to locate jobs only in the most expensive cities.


15 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Bay Area cities are addicted to the tax revenue generated from business expansions. Few cities give any thought to where employees will be housed as companies expand. The housing crunch has been worsening for many years as Silicon Valley has grown, and there is no letting up. Until cities have the wherewithal to say "No more!" to corporate expansions, the housing and traffic issues will only continue to worsen.


20 people like this
Posted by Housing
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm

"Housing reduces traffic when located near office complexes and businesses. "

Actually, at best, such housing reduces the amount of increase in traffic, relative to other housing schemes. But still it will increase traffic. And it only is better if people work near the place they live.

Here, people live with others; the odds are that all members of a household can neither walk to work nor take mass transit to work.

And people change jobs every few years. And move as they can afford to.

So, housing increases traffic, every time, everywhere.

And, increased density increases the utility of real property, which increases its value, and its cost. So this plan will increase traffic and increase housing costs.

The plan also decreases quality of life, but that's a separate topic.


7 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Robert --

City officials have tools -- such as zoning laws -- at their disposal to encourage or discourage growth in offices, housing, etc.

That's the reason why places like Atherton and Portola Valley lack the level of congestion that we see in places like Palo Alto and Mountain View.

At least in theory, what *we* can do is elect officials who would use those tools to control growth so employers would need to go elsewhere for expansion.

Of course, this would need to happen on a Bay Area wide basis to make a significant difference.


24 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2017 at 12:04 am

No matter how people may fantasize, no matter how much money gets dumped into transportation management, we do not have, and will never have the type of fast, extensive, and cheap mass transport that would get significant numbers of people out of their cars.

Even if the various municipalities and counties could actually agree on a solution, say some kind of underground subway-like system, it seems all but certain that the financial cost and physical disruption of construction would be untenable.

Finally, as College Grad points out above, even areas like New York with far-reaching and well-integrated mass transport still have constant traffic jams.

More people, no matter where you put them, means more traffic.


2 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2017 at 12:02 pm

@Abitarian

That's kind of my point, without any region wide plan to halt or slow commercial development, you have to plan for growth, by definition. I don't think any expert would claim that congestion won't accompany this growth, but you can't argue that someone working and living on the peninsula contributes as much to traffic as someone commuting in from Tracy or Fairfield.


18 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

@Robert, perhaps rhetorical but I'll take a stab at that argument. Build a new residence here for that person from Tracy, and before long we have a whole family requiring gardeners and maintenance workers and daycare and dogwalkers and elementary teachers, all of whom will commute in from Tracy.


13 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Do the biased "experts" at ABAG actually have a comprehensive dynamic computer model that supports the conclusion that increased housing will reduce traffic or is the conclusion reached by just stretching sophomoric economic theory way past its breaking point?


6 people like this
Posted by Nightlife
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm

The techies and other young people prefer to rent a room in SF than a condo or apartment in Palo Alto or Mtn View because they enjoy the NIGHTLIFE in SF, which PA and MV have far less of.

In fact, Apple has set up a HUGE office in SF in response to that very fact.

Many young people prefer to wake up later in the morning after a night of bar-hopping and clubbing. Many find they can sleep on the way to work if they take the Google/FB/Apple/LinkedIn bus to work.

Some are refusing to leave their SF enclaves, so the businesses are establishing offices there.

Right now, my son, who works at the Apple Spaceship, finds that he has a shortage of coworkers... they want to be able to sleep late and take Muni to the SF Apple Office!

Wait for that to change when these kids mature mentally and emotionally, marry and want to start a family. I give it ten years...


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2017 at 5:28 pm

To add to the discussion about someone coming in from Gilroy or Tracy causing more traffic than someone who lives in Tracy I would like to add that those who commute in would be in their car and out of Palo Alto at the end of the work day and probably not in Palo Alto at weekends. I see plenty of traffic during the day, mid evening and weekends as those who live in Palo Alto jump into their cars to run errands, go out for dinner or a movie, drive their kids to after school activities and the same for weekends.

People who reside in Palo Alto are likely to live, eat, shop, relax, and use their cars to do all these things whereas those who live in farther flung areas will do those sorts of things there.

No in my opinion we have commuters arriving and commuters leaving both morning and evening, as well as residents living their lives. More housing will mean more residents who will live their lives using their cars and quite often commuting out of town on a daily basis. More housing therefore will lead to more traffic outside commute hours, not less.


7 people like this
Posted by Example
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2017 at 4:26 am

Checkout the plans for the "Stevens Creek Urban Village" at the border of Cupertino, Santa Clara and San Jose.

That is the logical consequence of this idea.

No height limit. No consideration of existing nearby life or activity. No increase in bandwidth for traffic.

It's for developers. Lobbied by developers and supported by organizations of developers who fund local election campaigns.

Complete with promised public benefits that even on paper are not for the public. Below market housing sacrificed before the project starts.

This is a bad idea.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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