A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that Silicon Valley is the hottest job market in the country right now.
Many of us didn’t need the report to know that’s true. Tech companies are hiring like mad, and they’re expanding their operations to match. Anecdotal evidence says that Sunnyvale is at the center of the region’s job growth – its vacant office space has plummeted from near 30% to single digits in just the past year and a half, with office development applications setting a record pace so far this year. Cities like Mountain View, Cupertino, and Palo Alto don’t have much available space, making Sunnyvale the focus of corporate expansions, and we’ve seen Google, Apple, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, NetApp, Juniper, and Amazon all grabbing available Sunnyvale office space and even building new space.
Personally, the hiring evidence comes from recruiter calls. After about two years with nary a contact from the valley’s many corporate recruiters, I had multiple hits from both corporate recruiters and private recruiting firms when I was job-hunting last year. Since then, I get a couple of calls each week from someone trying to fill a vacancy somewhere. Companies that said “no” to me when I went to them last year are now approaching me with opportunities.
This is a very encouraging market right now. But it creates pressure on Sunnyvale in other ways, as we have to respond to the increased service demands and changes to our city that will result. We’ve already seen an increase in housing development proposals, some of which make sense, some of which don’t. And we have a choice with these new jobs – add housing (and put more pressure on our services) or refuse to (and put more pressure on our roads). The new jobs mean more pressure and wear on our roads, regardless of our housing decisions. Increased recreation program demands, library usage, utility usage, and demands on other services will follow. High-tech companies tend to use a lot of water, in particular.
We’re already responding to some of this. We have a massive road rehabilitation program in its second year, and you’ve probably been warned about street closures that will follow. We will be adding 7.5 acres of new park space just in the next year, with the new Seven Seas Park, the new park near the O’Brien homes. We have also now budgeted to expand Orchard Gardens Park. Serra Park’s amenities will also be finishing their replacement and upgrades in the next few weeks. And more park expansion will follow in future years, as our increase in park dedication fees begins to kick in. We’ve now revisited the library facility and civic center issues, and we’ve set a path to possibly address the woefully inadequate library service levels caused by our lack of library facilities (more on that to follow shortly).
Sunnyvale has one significant asset when it comes to dealing with changes. Our staff knows the city and its operations inside and out, and they study everything to death. We have statistics on statistics. When we fail in our long-term planning, it is rarely because we didn’t anticipate a change – it is invariably because we made the wrong policy call, having known the change was coming. The real pressure created by these changes will be on us to make hard calls about resources and services to adapt to the changes headed our way, or to more aggressively say “no” to some of the proposed changes that we simply cannot handle as a city.