A worker stands on the roof of a home under construction at a new housing development on November 17, 2016 in San Rafael, California.

The Bay Area added thousands of jobs in June, according to a report released last week by the California Employment Development Department. But some economists warn that the region’s job growth could soon stall as high housing prices and weak transportation infrastructure make it hard for companies to recruit the workers they need. We look at current economic trends in the Bay Area and who is — and is not — benefiting from the region’s robust economy.

Guests:
Chris Thornberg,
founding partner, Beacon Economics
Micah Weinberg, president, Economic Institute at the Bay Area Council

Bay Area Adding Jobs Despite Housing, Transportation Challenges 25 July,2017Michael Krasny

  • jakeleone

    In Bangalore, you can live in your car, that’s like super housing in Bangalore. In San Jose, you get kicked out or your car, and your car gets towed. This is the reality folks.

    The paid government workforce, works for the landlords. No one else has any real rights to live in the Bay Area. And the landlords have bought off the bull dogs.

    We say we are the land of the “free”, but no one is, and nothing is.

    • Kurt thialfad

      We say we are the land of the “free”, but have the highest per capita prison population.

      Has anyone thought about from where is the water going to come?

    • geraldfnord

      There is no stable property-in-land without State violence, or its threat (or its promise to allow some private violence, e.g. keave to kill trespassers). The State sets the rules and thereby helps to enrich some particularly well, so both fairness and a need not to descend into the war of all against all would indicate that the State ought to get some payment from those it enriches and use it to assist those it helps to impoverish.

      • jakeleone

        The state should only tax excess, not necessities. Yet the state taxes necessities, almost as badly as it taxes luxury. This points to a big political problem with our local municipalities. It is so bad, that basically we need to amend the constitution to extend basic housing, as an untaxable necessity. Will that ever happen? No, because politicians don’t do things that will cut-off their campaign donations. It will only happen with awareness, and awareness of the details.

        The State should avoid, as much as possible, any market manipulations, and should instead allow people to seek the lowest cost alternatives. The lowest cost alternatives will, often, lead to less polution, less freeway congestion. For example, if you could sleep in a camper, in a parking lot, or your office complex, where you work. You could save tons of green house gas, and decrease traffic congestion. That scenario is often disallowed (in the same manner as the granny apartments are often locally banned). Because it adds nothing to the tax base, transient workers don’t vote locally, and landlords want people to pay that high rent.

        That leads to a huge market manipulation, that is patently Anti-Capitalist, and dramatically disadvantages the Bay Area economy. It isn’t part of the success story, it is all about the parasitic relationship the rich have with their local government.

        • geraldfnord

          I can’t agree with you in many particulars—I think your faith in the Market ignores externalisation, is too Coatesean in its faith that initial conditions don’t matter, and blurs the difference between Pareto-optimal and lowest cost.

          But I think we could have common cause in those areas where even 1895* Capitalism differed greatly from a Free Market.

          *Karl Rove and a few other right/business Republican leaders have identified 1895 as The Best Year Ever…I realise that this were far from universal a Republican or ‘libert’arian sentiment, for example those not wedded to Mr James Crow.

    • Noelle

      There are lots of people in Palo Alto living in RVs. Better than living in tents? Oh well.

      • jakeleone

        Yes, but only because the city council in Palo Alto caved in and repealed an ordinance banning sleeping on the streets, in your car, in Palo Alto. If there hadn’t been any political opposition, such an efficient way to solve the housing problems (temporarily) would have been very expensive and disruptive, as your RV or van gets towed.

  • geraldfnord

    The most interesting places stay interesting because they attract the most interesting people from all over. Sure, J.D. Vance is moving from San Francisco to Columbus, Ohio, but to the folks he elegised both might as well be Sodom.

  • marte48

    This crisis has been going on for decades. How many shows have you personally hosted on this subject, Michael?

  • marte48

    I wonder if there are any statistics on how many mansions and penthouses are vacant most of the year.

  • William – SF

    “Negative re-enforcement is” not “a better way to train your children.”
    And … if you’re training your children you need parenting lessons!

  • Bob Stone

    Can your guests talk about quality of life. I don’t want San Francisco to be the next Shanghai or Mumbai: crowded, polluted, urban nightmare.

    • Robert Thomas

      You could mummify it. People pay money to see mummies.

    • jakeleone

      The reality is that higher density results in less per-capita pollution. People in cities make more and pay more taxes per thousand gallons of water used then farmers. As the guest pointed out, we use water to fund low value agricultural export (low valued compared to our industrial and technological export). Taking 15% of the water away from farmers and giving it to cities, could double California’s GDP.

      If that extra water is used to support, urban density, that means fewer cars on the road and less pollution less smog, more trees more forests and open space.

      People in cities ARE THE LOWEST per capita water users, yet PEOPLE IN CITIES, account for 80-90% of California’s GDP. And people in cities, have the shortest commutes.

      Our housing problem, our big environmental problems in the Bay Area, are caused by Nimbys.

      • jurgispilis

        So you’re saying that a hectacre of farmland uses more water than a hectacre of suburban subdivision?
        ‘per capita’ may not be the valid statistical denominator.

        • jakeleone

          Per Capita, in this case is Per Person.

          • jurgispilis

            Exactly. Cities use more water! Not less – than farms. It’s merely statistical gymnastics that makes it look like the farmers are the bad guys, when in reality, they are the good guys.

    • lunartree

      Crowding happens when you don’t build enough infrastructure.

  • marte48

    When you talk about the “high wage sectors” please remember the high taxes that they pay – nearly 30% income taxes before the paycheck is even delivered.

    • Jessica

      I think it’s more

  • Steve

    All the talk of growth being so desirable. How can we face the fact that all this growth may be leading to a deteriorating quality of life? California has only a limited supply of water. Growth leads to more pressure on traffic and open space. Are population and economic growth perhaps not the most desirable goals here?

  • marte48

    Twenty years ago, I started saying that only the children of the rich will afford to have jobs.

  • Ben Rawner

    Can your guests talk about the inherent ageism in the new hires. I know many people above the age of 40 who are having a really hard time finding a liveable wage job.

  • marte48

    Steve Jobs’ last gift to the bay area is a building as big as the Pentagon in a small city never designed for such magnitude of traffic or housing The thousands of new apartments will all be market rate.

    • Robert Thomas

      The little far-Northeast corner of Cupertino “pooched out” North of Hwy 280 that Apple Park inhabits is at the convergence of Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara and is really more a part of the latter two communities than it is of Cupertino. Most of the employees that will occupy it already work here. The facility’s roadway access is well designed. The operations are easily accommodated.

  • marte48

    Our president is planning to build a wall that will keep out the labor force we will need to build the housing we are talking about.

    • jurgispilis

      I thought that was to keep out the drug dealers, freeloaders, anchor mothers, gangbangers, rapists, etc. Workers can get a visa, and come through the front door.
      Am I missing something?

      • William – SF

        You’re missing plenty. Try introducing yourself to someone who farms your food, …read John Steinbeck, …

        • jurgispilis

          You’re beating around the bush. Tell me what I’m missing, and be specific.

          • William – SF

            No bush beaten in my comment. Acquaint yourself with both. In addition, a wall doesn’t keep out anyone except those who try and can’t get over/around it …temporarily. Trump’s wall is a metaphor for condoning hate, which your comment mirrors. Your characterization of those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally is offensive, and blind to the plight of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

          • jurgispilis

            Trump’s wall is a metaphor for basic fundamental national security.
            My characterization of those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally is meant to be offensive.
            Everybody on the planet is seeking better life for themselves and their families. But that is best done (as Dorothy states) at home – your dreams come true at home – not in a strangers land.
            I have read Steinbeck. I’m not blind, but you are.

          • Gene K.

            I guess we all should have stayed home or self deport now. I am sure the native Americans would be a lot happier if we all would have followed your advice.

          • jurgispilis

            I appreciate the support of our indigenous brothers and sisters.

  • Jessica

    Isn’t half of the housing in SF owned by Chinese people who don’t even live here because they can’t technically buy housing in China? I would be interested to know about that and if that housing is sitting empty or what?

    • Noelle

      They have a lot of cash they can’t use in China and come here and invest in real estate.

  • ES Trader

    Why not simply let demand/supply forces regulste itself regarding service workers?

    Eventually the demand for service labor relative to their willingness to either commute or live in less than desirable conditions be met by the willingness of the demand to pay for it ?

    Quality of life will force a loosening of wallets to pay for restaurant servers, dog walkers, housekeepers etc.

    Artificial interference will only create a Winchester Housecor the sad state of mass transportation, piece mealed together.

    • Jessica

      Right? Who’s gonna walk your dog and do your dry cleaning if they can’t live anywhere near you.

      • Mood_Indigo

        Why not just speak for yourself, and give that old strawman (“who will do xxx for you?”) a rest? When people can’t afford something, they will pay more, do without it, or find an alternative. That’s what Capitalism 101 teaches….

  • Robert Thomas

    From where I live in Santa Clara, one development of 825 apartment homes began being occupied at the end of last year and four other new developments totaling 1,500 units are being built within walking distance from my door.

    What is to be done? What’s going on in San Mateo County?

  • Joe

    It seems that the YIMBY movement in the Bay Area is being leveraged by real estate developers for short term profits in the name of more affordable housing, when in reality they are building luxury housing that is not improving the “housing crisis”… And since there is no available land, the “infill” development being approved and promoted by the YIMBYs and groups like SPUR is actually driving the demolition of existing PDR and the elimination of the more diverse non-tech jobs they were providing.

  • Joe

    Your guests are classic examples of shills hired by the real estate development interests who are simply taking advantage of the housing crisis for short term profits. They will extract their profits and then move on to greener pastures.

  • Noelle

    There’s that new huge Google development proposed at San Jose Diridon transit station downtown. Are they going to build housing for their workers as well?

  • Winjas

    High-density housing is great, but how are older people going to live in these 3 story living units? Need elevators?

    • Noelle

      yes, why not? Lots of older people are living in New York City with even higher density housing.

      • Winjas

        I agree. My point being that there are no elevators or ways for older people to live in these 3 story townhouses.

        • Noelle

          ok

        • Robert Thomas

          The three and four-story condominium complex near where I live was built in 1980 and has elevators. All multi-dwelling developments I’ve seen in the region of four stories or greater include elevators.

          • Mood_Indigo

            Robert,
            Winjas is referring to what I call “chimney townhomes”. Each unit having three floors. Terrible design but gives everyone a garage and a postage stamp size “backyard”.

  • Deanne Callahan

    I just sold my house in the Bay Area and moved to Portland OR Folks here in
    Portland are expressing the same opinions we don’t want to grow we don’t want you here
    housing prices are going up your affecting our quality of life

  • Livegreen

    The Bay Area expects Oakland & Richmond to build all their inclusionary & low income housing. This is simply not fair, it has lead to long-term erosion of the tax base in those cities, and less money available in those cities for other Public Services. (It’s only in the last couple years that market-rate housing has surpassed below market rate housing).

    How can the State & Bay Area Council actually DO something about getting other cities to build low-income & moderate priced housing? Are there any plans to sue municipalities to build more housing like Jerry Brown did to Pleasanton early in his administration?

  • We live in the “Age of Cities” with 50% of the worlds population living in urban center, and an estimated 75% by 2050, according to the London School of Economics. Imagine cities of the future that are integrated with nature, clean, equitable, healthy, and beautiful. How do we make this happen? Who is responsible for building our cities?

    SB-1069, AB-2299, and AB-2406 are the beginning of a powerful movement, “home-owner driven development.” Cities belongs to the people who live in it, therefore, the people should have a means of participating directly in transforming that city. Currently, urban and suburban communities are dependent on real estate developers for the provision of housing. This needs to change.

    These new statewide laws open the door for homeowners in single family zones, a large percentage of our cities land use, to take an active roll by investing in their greatest asset (their home) by transforming their single family home into investment properties up to 4 units.

  • marte48

    Didn’t Mountain View vote down the Google housing?

    • Noelle

      yes

  • nothing_to_see_here

    Is it possible to partially repeal prop 13 in just the Bay Area? For example have a region wide property tax increase on higher density homes, and earmark some of those additional money for transportation. This will give cities the incentives to build higher density housing, and add more money to fix the regional transportation issue

  • Russ Beckwith

    As a realtor I witness the high cost of rentals and home prices on the peninsula daily. As long as we bring in jobs, but do not allow more construction of housing units, we will have much more demand than supply and excessive cost inflation. Higher density housing construction along transportation corridors, I.e., Caltrain el Camino Real, is critical. Sure the area will change in character, but it will also change in an uglier way without a healthy balance between jobs and housing.

    • Mood_Indigo

      No conflict of interest here, I suppose 🙂 That “ugliness” you speak of is easily rectified by market forces so that the job growth here is only in high-paid sectors.

      • marte48

        so why do the magical market forces fail to work for decades?

  • Mood_Indigo

    This program foists so many strawman and questionable assumptions that makes my head spin. They have a couple of guests who have vested interest in seeing endless “growth” — you know, just like cancer. Who would need policy think tanks and economic institutes if Bay Area had a small steady growth in GDP that beats inflation by say 0.5% per annum, and almost zero growth in population? Well, Michael, that’s what exactly many of us in Bay Area would prefer.
    One of the guests mentioned that lack of housing growth means no inflow of people from elsewhere. That’s utter nonsense. People who retire on smaller incomes (or others who can’t afford this place) should and do leave. I myself left once when I was out of a job and came back after I had one.
    What we need is better and faster transportation from Bay Area surroundings to Peninsula and South Bay. How many folks working in Manhattan actually live on that island?

  • Mood_Indigo

    Another strawman I heard in this discussion. Each tech job is now apparently generating less than 3 jobs instead of the 4 they did earlier. What’s the problem if it generates zero additional jobs? Oh — I see the problem. Then the wages of the support industries (janitorial, hospitality, etc) will rise and the latter will not need self-righteous progressives to advocate for them. Big problem for some!

  • Kjeld Pedersen

    I felt the discussion felt a lack of compassion to all the struggles felt by now a sub-class in the Bay Area.

    Looks like today you are either a Techie or you serve one.

    Community can’t be built in a city where living here it’s like fashion, people come in and leave. I displaced the earlier people during early 2000’s,
    and now I’m out of touch with the new SF, only sleeping here and working to pay the ever high cost of living, and don’t see many pro’s for me. Issue is that community never develops, in comparison to NYC where 3 generations can be there.

    Some extreme contrasts,

    I spoke to a homeless that has a job in SF but can’t afford a place to live. He lives in the shadows, pretends to be like most, go to coffee places, and tries to blend in.

    Opposite to,

    Home sales all in cash went from 6% to 20%, now is this normal? Articles points that the bay area became a place to park capital as their returns are higher than many other investment options. China has a right that the current administration is trying to close that, a loophole that allows its citizens to bring a large sum of cash, things that other countries can’t. Due to US debt with China. Articles point that much of that money was parked here.

    Back to the lack of compassion on this talk, fair that sometimes the truth hurts and as an economist, highlighting the numbers shows that those who are suffering might do best to leave this place, that doesn’t care about you as a person, for that tip, as much as a hard pill to swallow I like this forum talk.

  • jakeleone

    We spent trillions to fight the Xenophobes in Afghanistan. And mistakenly in Iraq.

    If we had only spent that on worthy medical improvements, like organs for the ill. Maybe even regenerating or growing them.

    We would have saved millions of lives, instead of wasting money taking them.

    Ignorance, costs lives.

  • Tom McNamara

    This segment is causing me to wonder about Forum’s producers: no mention by either guest about rent stabilization or redevelopment agencies…which are the most important tools to alleviating the housing shortage.

    Was this an intentional omission by Forum or could the bookers not find anyone to articulate this point?

  • jake3_14

    I was angered by the snide, fact-free responses of your guests to listeners concerns. For example, the assertion that California has plenty of water for current and future needs was completely unsupported. The state’s water system was designed for an era of high snowfall, followed by meltwater runoff. Scientists point to a future that’s drier and warmer, where much of the Winter water comes as rain. CA cities are not designed to catch and re-use rainwater.

    I could go on and on, but I don’t want to write an essay. If technocrats have so much expertise, they are obligated to demonstrate it rather than summarily dismiss criticism. Otherwise, they really are, as another poster asserted, shills for real estate developers.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor