Bay Area Housing Development

The Silicon Valley Business Journal has a story on housing development in the Bay Area, and it’s an interesting read.  They took a look at how cities are building housing as compared to their Regional Housing Needs Assessment – basically the extent to which cities are supplying the housing to meet their projected housing needs for population growth.  From the article:

Cities like Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Redwood City and Dublin have plenty to brag about. They at least build close to the number of housing units they needed to. Cities like Oakland, Palo Alto and Berkeley? Pretty dismal failing grades.

The article indicates that Sunnyvale has been building about 85% of the housing needed to accommodate its population growth.  That’s a pretty good place to be, since it means we’re pretty close to meeting our needs, without actually building so much housing as to attract additional growth that wouldn’t otherwise occur.  That’s very much the goal – to accommodate natural growth without creating more.  Morgan Hill and Milpitas are also doing very well, and Mountain View and Santa Clara are close behind us.  But other nearby cities are failing – Palo Alto has accommodated about 38% of its projected need, and San Jose is at about 46%.  While Palo Alto’s number is definitely dismal, San Jose’s failure hurts us more, given how big it is compared to the rest of us.  San Jose’s failure creates considerable housing pressure on the rest of us.

This creates interesting questions for Sunnyvale policy-makers.  Do we continue to carry our weight when cities around us refuse to?  Or do we reduce our approvals and basically throw renters and prospective homeowners to the wolves?  With rents going up 25% in a given year and the median home price in Sunnyvale at about $1.2 million, that’s an important question to consider, given the market’s very real impact on the most vulnerable of Sunnyvale’s residents.

Note that the article fails to discuss a critical aspect of housing development in our area – the percentage of low-income and affordable housing that is being constructed, something like 13% in Sunnyvale (from memory, so don’t run wild with that statistic).  New housing is disproportionately targeted at higher incomes, and addressing that disparity creates real challenges for us.

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