Usually, local and regional governments will trip over themselves to lay out the welcome mat for any sort of “economic development” project that promises to bring more jobs to their area. But after many, many years of failing to build enough housing to keep up with an influx of people attracted by the tech industry, Silicon Valley (and other parts of California) find themselves without anywhere to put the humans who make all this success happen.
The Wall Street Journal today tells the remarkable story of a spat between the cities of San Jose and neighboring Santa Clara, which has proposed a major new development that, according to projections, “would add 49,000 jobs but just 16,000 housing units citywide by 2035.” Take a moment to soak in this sentence about San Jose’s opposition to this major economic development plan:
“San Jose has taken the rare step of publicly opposing the project, saying it would add far too many jobs, exacerbating the region’s housing shortage.”
A local government publicly opposing the creation of jobs. You can sit through city council meetings for a fucking lifetime and never get to hear that. Perhaps you, a rational human, are wondering: Why don’t they build more housing so that the people with jobs will have somewhere to live? Excellent question! The answer varies regionally, but it all comes down to an enormous failure of long-term planning. The WSJ explains that local governments often bring in less tax revenue from residential development than other types, so they tend to let it lag even as other development soars. And now look at the fucking mess these places have gotten themselves in:
San Francisco, San Mateo County and Santa Clara County together added 385,800 jobs between 2010 and the end of 2015, according to the California Employment Development Department. Over the same period, building permits were issued for just 58,324 housing units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, enough space to hold roughly 150,000 new residents.
YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE ANY TALL BUILDINGS YET.