Carl Guardino, CEO and president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, claims that while Silicon Valley’s innovative industries have grown faster than any other, traffic and housing problems are impacting businesses and further growth in the region.
Guardino addressed the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors last month in Los Altos, noting that if ignored, Silicon Valley could fall behind its top-tier competitors.
Between 2010 and 2015, Silicon Valley’s overall employment increased 24.5 percent and its population grew 6.4 percent, but its housing stock only increased 2.6 percent. According to Guardino, the biggest challenge for employers is finding housing for prospective employees.
“Our workers need a place to live,” he said. “If we don’t build more houses, prices are going to keep going up.”
Competitors beat Silicon Valley on median home value. The average median home value in Silicon Valley is $935,000, compared with $565,000 in Southern California, $390,000 in Boston, $385,000 in New York City, $380,000 in Seattle and $249,000 in Austin.
Traffic is impacting business and personal decisions, Guardino said. In the past five years, the commute time in the Bay Area has increased 15.5 percent, compared with Seattle, which is up 11.4 percent; Boston, 8.9 percent. Southern California, 6.5 percent; Austin, 5.7 percent; and New York City, 5.2 percent.
“We can either whine or win and do it together and be much more competitive,” he said.
Guardino hailed the passage of Measure B in November, which will provide more than $6 billion for road and transit improvements. On the horizon is Regional Measure 3, a proposed toll increase on Bay Area bridges to fund their restoration.
Caltrain is the only agency that does not have a steady funding source, Guardino said. A recent poll commissioned by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group indicates that the region’s voters would support a dedicated sales tax to modernize Caltrain.
To address the housing problem, Guardino said the state Senate Bill 2 Building Jobs and Homes Act would impose a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents to fund affordable housing; the SB 3 Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 would create a $3 billion statewide housing general obligation bond to address the housing shortage; and the SB 35 Housing Accountability and Affordability Act would streamline the process for multifamily developments in jurisdictions falling behind in providing affordable housing.
Guardino said the problem is “folks want jobs, but not housing.” He said the creation of housing requires community support. He urged realtors and other advocates of housing to attend public hearings and show their support.
“Folks who need it don’t know it’s possible if they would show up at hearings and show their support,” he said. “When we build housing, we build communities. We need to look at everything holistically.”