Silicon Valley Report Card: economy booming, housing shortage and commute time worse

The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, commonly known as SPUR, have updated their Silicon Valley Indicators for 2017. Some key takeaways:

  • The regional economy continues to grow … but at a slower rate
  • Unemployment is under 4%
  • Home prices continue to outpace income growth
  • Last year added 115,000 jobs … but only 6,000 homes
  • The median home price in Santa Clara County is now $1,080,000
  • Fewer than 30% of residents can qualify for a mortgage at that price

On infrastructure, jobs/housing balance, and commute times SPUR reports:

It comes as no surprise that the physical infrastructure of Silicon Valley is experiencing a lot of strain. What’s worse, we haven’t been making very good decisions to actually improve it. Despite adding more than 115,000 jobs last year, the region only approved 6,000 housing units.

Less than half of the new commercial space approved last year (and about a third in 2014 and 2015) were near transit — meaning that we’re still putting jobs in places where driving is the default transportation option.

Most commuters in Silicon Valley know this problem intimately, as their travel times have gotten longer and longer. The Index reports that the average commute in Silicon Valley has gotten about 17 percent longer in the last ten years.


KQED Discusses Caltrain’s Future: Friday Morning at 9:00AM

Residents interested in Caltrain may wish to turn in to KQED’s Forum program, 88.5FM, at 9:00AM Friday morning. From the KQED web site:

Episode airs February 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Arguing that the South Bay’s transportation system is breaking down, the urban planning think tank SPUR released an ambitious proposal for the region Thursday. In its Caltrain Corridor Vision Plan, SPUR proposes improvements to Highway 101 and calls for Caltrain to quintuple its ridership, expand service into downtown San Francisco and upgrade infrastructure. The SPUR report follows the Trump Administration’s decision last week to suspend $647 million in funds for Caltrain’s electrification, a move the rail agency says will hinder its ability to make needed improvements. We discuss the future of Caltrain.

The Caltrain Corridor Vision Plan (

Ratna Amin, transportation policy director, SPUR
Randy Rentschler, director of legislation and public affairs, Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Seamus Murphy, chief communications officer, Caltrain