Moving San Mateo County Forward: Housing and Transit at a Crossroads
Author Abstract: As Silicon Valley growth has soared, cities have failed to build the housing needed, leading to record traffic delays. From 2010 to 2015, San Mateo County added 72,800 new jobs, but just 3,844 homes: for each new home, that’s 19 jobs. The report also finds that half of San Mateo County’s workers make less than $50,000 per year, and most local homes are priced far out of reach for most local workers.
The report includes brief stories from local workers, who are unable to find housing nearby, are commuting long distances, or are planning to leave the county entirely. “A few years ago, after my husband and I split up, my children and I spent nearly a month in a homeless shelter,” said Myrna Trujillo, a Daly City resident. “Permanent affordable housing saved my life.”
While everyone feels the effects of the shortage, low-income renters and buyers are hit hardest. “Even in Silicon Valley, most jobs are not high-paying tech jobs,” says HLC's executive director, Evelyn Stivers. “Many people work in retail and restaurants or care for seniors and children. The people with the fewest resources and the least flexible jobs are being forced into the worst commutes.”
According to the report, almost half of all new jobs in San Mateo County in the years to come will pay less than $65,000 a year—and many jobs will pay far less than that. Without policy interventions to address housing and transportation in an integrated way, both problems are bound to get worse. The report offers solutions that transit agencies, cities, and the County can all take to move us forward.
Notes from East Bay Times:
The report finds that rejection of new housing developments in San Mateo County has led to more, not less, congestion as workers move farther away to find affordable housing. One new home was built in San Mateo County for every 19 jobs created between 2010 and 2015.
Many cities and their residents have fought new development because they are “really concerned about traffic,” said Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo; “not building housing [though] really causes traffic problems.”
The report shows the difficulties expanding transit and housing in a county that hosts the headquarters of Facebook, Oracle, Genentech and other tech giants, and encompasses some of the wealthiest communities in the United States. The median sales price for a home in San Mateo County in April was $1.6 million. The area’s median annual income is $118,400 — less than one-third of the annual salary needed to purchase a home with a 10 percent down payment. The report comes as county leaders consider a proposal to add a half-cent to the sales tax to raise transportation funds. Many solutions are proposed for easing both housing affordability as well as traffic congestion. This is a research report of 24 pages with detailed statistics and figures.