Sunnyvale Resident: Daniel Howard

[NOTE: This was originally a “Hello World” post written to kick off the site. This is not the intended format for a resident profile. -DH]

My name is Danny Howard. I grew up in Chicago, graduated from UIUC, and first moved to Mountain View in 1999, one of the ever streaming horde of ambitious kids who keep moving out here to pursue a high-tech career.

The Silicon Valley is a great place, blessed with opportunities and great weather. But it is very challenging to live out here: the rent keeps going up, the traffic is insane, the public transit system is pathetic, mortgages are out of reach, and you never know when the bubble will pop and leave you unemployed. In 2002, I ran out of opportunities, loaded all I had left in the car, and headed back East . . .

Our House, Northern Elevation, circa 2012 Crayon on Placemat

Our Sunnyvale Home and Family, Northern Elevation, circa 2012

In time I returned to the Bay Area. My career stabilized. I married. In 2012, thanks in part to the Mortgage Crisis, we were able to afford a home on the North side of Sunnyvale. Things are working well for my young family, but I eat my lunch with those ambitious kids who are confronting the challenges of life out here. For so many it is abundantly clear the Valley has no room for them to settle down. Their futures lie in remote, affordable cities, and they avoid becoming emotionally involved with the community they presently call home.

My friends and colleagues are some of the most ambitious, capable people on the planet. They live here–for now–but for their own emotional well-being they alienate themselves from our communities because they see they must leave. This breaks my heart and it is a tremendous loss for the rest of us.

Earlier this year I received the city newsletter, which advertised prominently for volunteers for Sunnyvale Boards and Commissions. I have long been interested in urban planning so I applied to the Planning Commission. I also became engaged with the Maude Avenue Bicycle Lane project. Consequently, I have become more involved in the civic process. I have published notes and articles on my personal web site, but I think these ideas deserve a home of their own. If this site can serve as a forum to promote ideas to improve life in the Silicon Valley, that broken heart of mine will know some joy.