Thursday, May 31, 2018

San Jose Crane Watch is up to 97 major projects

The Silicon Valley Business Journal has a great development map which you can access here. There are now over 97 major development projects, most of which are centered around Downtown San Jose. These include office, residential, hotel, health car, education, retail, and mixed-use projects that were either proposed or are actively under construction. The project has to be at least 100,000 SQFT in size to make it to the map (that means the pipelines has well over 10 million SQFT of projects).

Some of the latest additions include a 19-story, 220 room hotel tower on Santa Clara Street and a 500,000 SQFT mixed use project in North San Jose. Learn more and check out the map using the source link below.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Downtown San Jose Scavenger hunt template

The San Jose Economy Blog has a guest post by a Cohesity employee that created a team-building scavenger hunt. I love this idea. It's a great way to get local employees more familiar with Downtown--and there are many hidden treasures to discover in the area. Below was their list that you can use as a starting point for your own scavenger hunt. Check out the full post with more details over here.

Items to find:

  • Life-sized board game
  • Bear that belongs in the snow
  • Wolf on top of a street
  • Sensing WATER installation
  • Giant tank full of sharks
  • Little piece of Italy
  • Barbershop inside of a square
  • Find a Burning Man female sculpture that inspires peace
  • Sculpture worth 200,000 coins
  • Permanent iron hat
  • Giant dome that is in the center of a hall
  • Statue with two track runners
  • Silver girl walking a silver dog
  • Red tree with no leaves
  • Amusement park that opened in 1961
  • Plant across the street from a cemetery – find the center circle

Good Deeds to Perform:

  • Take a picture with a stranger and tell them to have a great day!
  • Give a flower to a stranger.
  • Throw a piece of trash from the street into a trashcan or dumpster.
  • Help someone in need, a random act of kindness.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Google's Diridon plan is starting to come together

If Google ends up building their 8 million SQFT campus in Downtown San Jose, it will be one of the most transformative events even in San Jose history. They have already spent over $250 million assembling various parcels of land in anticipation for the urban campus. Eventually 15,000-20,000 Google employees could be working in San Jose.

Google has started laying out a vision for the 240-acre land surrounding Diridon where they would local the majority of their offices. The improvements would be accessible to the public and benefit the whole community. Google wants to develop four corridors that each have their own theme: Los Gatos Linear Park, Paseo San Fernando, Cultural & Innovation Walk, and the Social & Commercial Loop.

The Los Gatos Linear Park would connect the Guadalupe River to the Los Gatos Creek via a green "eco-walk" and Santa Clara Steet outside SAP would be turned into a commercial district with retail and restaurants. Paseo San Fernando would feature retail, art, and event space.

This sounds very interesting and exciting. The more developed the plan becomes, the more likely this project will come to fruition.

Source: SVBJ

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Get More Done... Working with Virtual Assistants by SwagSam

SwagSam, Founder, of the podcast network WhatUp Silicon Valley just published his first book!

In the hustle that is Silicon Valley, we are all looking for an edge. We look at the latest trends and will try anything (within reason of course) to give ourselves a competitive edge. Always looking to increase productivity, increase bottom line … and in Silicon Valley to increase company culture!

If you can relate to this feeling that there just aren’t enough hours in a day then and want to reduce stress in your life; then SwagSam’s book “Success With Swag(ger)” is for you. In this book, SwagSam outlines just how he and his team at WhatUp Silicon Valley have used virtual assistants (VA’s)  to grow each of their respective businesses. It’s an actionable step-by-step guide to identifying what tasks that are wasting your time and guides you to hiring your first VA!

You can grab check out the book on Amazon by searching “SwagSam” or just clicking the link here.

WhatUp Silicon Valley is the podcast network on what’s trending in the South Bay for and by young professionals that live the Silicon Valley hustle.

Friday, May 25, 2018

SJCA Style & Culture with Nicholas Jimenez

Nicholas Jimenez is and artist that works for MACLA as a Program Assistant for their Digital Media and Culture (DMC) Studio. He's also studying Industrial Design at SJSU. He has a weekly vlog called SJCA Style & Culture that highlights a lot of great things happening in the area.

When asked why he started the show, Nicholas responded with:

"I want to invite people to see a first-hand account of what it's like to experience some of the festivals, meet some of the great people, and see the many styles and cultures in our area.  Also, as you may know, working within the visual and performance art scene we meet a lot of interesting people, organizations, and gain exclusive access to some awesome stuff and I want to share it all! People can expect to see interviews with local artists, designers, entrepreneurs, and fashionistas that are working on interesting projects that affect us all. As well as, local music videos, event highlights of local acts and performers at events near the South Bay, and San Francisco Bay. And also some vlogs about the day to day activities of the team behind it all."

To access the weekly show and learn more, click here!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cinnaholic rolls out San Jose location

A rapidly growing vegan cinnamon roll bakery has officially opened Downtown at 115 East San Carlos. This is Cinnaholic's fifth location in California. Each gourmet cinnamon roll can be topped with one of 30+ frosting flavors and a selection of over 20 toppings. For more info on Cinnaholic, check out the press release below.

New location will soon grace taste buds across San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. – There is good news for San Jose residents with a sweet tooth.

Cinnaholic, the gourmet cinnamon roll bakery acclaimed for serving innovative, gourmet cinnamon roll creations, has announced that its San Jose location will open on April 27 at 115 East San Carlos Street. The San Jose bakery is the fifth in California.

The grand opening signifies meaningful and continued growth for the gourmet cinnamon roll chain. The new San Jose location joins the current locations in California, Texas, Georgia, Nevada and Florida. Cinnaholic gained national attention after the company was featured on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank.” The brand was recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the Top Eight Franchises that have appeared on “Shark Tank.” Cinnaholic began franchising in 2014 and currently has over 40 units in development, including Cleveland, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Florida, and Edmonton, Alberta.

“There is a tremendous amount of excitement to serve the award-winning cinnamon rolls to the people of San Jose,” said Xicayan Posadas, who has been in the food industry since he was young, helping his mother run her catering truck at a young age and then working as a bakery manager. Xicayan owns and operates the new bakery with his wife, Lizzeth. “Our delicious, vegan cinnamon rolls will fulfill a need for a healthier, sweet treat that locals have been asking for.”

A cinnamon roll experience unlike any other, customers can choose from a variety of Cinnaholic’s signature frosting flavors and toppings to create their very own, mouthwatering cinnamon roll experience. Customers can expect nothing less than the highest quality ingredients, as the vegan bakery franchise was founded upon a commitment that all ingredients must be animal-free and free of dairy, lactose, eggs and cholesterol.

“Xicayan and Lizzeth are the perfect team to grow the Cinnaholic brand in San Jose,” said Shannon Radke, co-founder of Cinnaholic. “Their experience in the food industry is outstanding, and they truly understand the Cinnaholic concept and business model.”

For more information on Cinnaholic, visit

About Cinnaholic
Founded in 2009 in Berkeley, California, Cinnaholic is the only gourmet bakery that allows customers to completely customize cinnamon rolls with more than 30 frosting flavors and over 20 topping choices. Each Cinnaholic cinnamon roll is 100% vegan and free of dairy, lactose, eggs or cholesterol, allowing guests to enjoy their mouth-watering creations without worrying about certain dietary or allergy restrictions.

To learn more about Cinnaholic franchise opportunities, call (404) 844-8661. For more information about Cinnaholic bakeries, visit

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday Wishlist: Loops

It has been ages since doing a Wednesday Wishlist, and I can't think of a more timely one than this one. Transportation is constantly one of the top complaints of living in the San Jose area. We are plagued by levels of traffic that give even LA a run for it's money. We're spending billions on road improvements and public transit, but it does not seem like the net results will ever keep up with the increased demands of a growing population. We live in the innovation capital of the world, there has to be a better way.

Elon Musk has recently given a presentation on the first "Loop" tunnel, which is currently being built in the LA area (full video below) by The Boring Company. A loop is a lower-cost variant of the Hyperloop proposal a few years back. Stations 1-2 parking spaces wide would allow up to 16 people to enter a pod, which would then descend into a tunnel. The pod would then autonomously travel point-to-point to another station at up to 150 MPH. Rides are targeted to cost $1 per person, less than existing public transit stations.

Critical to making this concept successful is reducing the cost of tunneling by a factor of 10 from $1 billion per mile to $100 million per mile. This is possible by using autonomous boring machines with electric motors and batteries (surprisingly the same motors as the Tesla Model 3) that are faster and more efficient than existing machines. Most of the engineers working on the machines are from SpaceX--if anyone can figure it out, it'll be them. After all, they did figure out how to land rockets back on earth on a moving barge.

Given that we are at the precipice of next-generation transportation technology, San Jose should be doing everything possible to make sure we're one of the first cities to get access to Loops. Instead of investing in transit systems of the past, we should look to the future. Can you imagine connecting SJC, Diridon Station, and Downtown to every other part of San Jose within a 10min trip? Now's the time to start thinking bigger--or lower--for San Jose.

Monday, May 21, 2018

SJC is the fastest growing airport in the Bay Area

There is good reason why San Jose continues to get additional flight routes month after month. The airport has grown passenger traffic an astounding 18.5% year-over-year. It will only be a matter of time before SJC passes Oakland as the 2nd largest airport by passenger volume. In February, San Jose's year-over-year passenger growth was an even more impressive 20.8% while it was 11.5% at SFO and 5.3% at Oakland. That puts SJC and OAK neck-and-neck for 2nd place.

In March, international travel was up by 23% year-over-year. This is the most lucrative market for the airport and city, as international trips tend to bring the largest economic impact and taxes to the city. It also helps support San Jose companies while giving residents more travel options.

With a major $1 billion expansion in the works, the future looks bright!

Source: SVBJ

Friday, May 18, 2018

MOMENT at San Pedro Squared opens today!

One of the most exciting retail improvements to Downtown San Jose in years is launching today. San Pedro Squared is a Knight Foundation-funded project that adds four micro-retail spaces on the ground floor of the San Pedro Square garage. San Pedro is arguably the most lively street Downtown right now, but has always been held back by only having restaurants, bars, and the occasional shop on one side of the street due to the massive parking structure. 12 parking spaces have been converted into four 400 SQFT businesses for local entrepreneurs.

It gets better. The four businesses are all women-owned ventures with strong ties to San Jose offering unique and innovative products. You can see the descriptions of each below along with links to their websites.

San Pedro Squared is having their grand opening today at 11am. Please patronize our new local businesses--this is the type of grassroots project that adds character to Downtown!

Innovative retail destination reinvented in Market-San Pedro Garage, continuing people-first development efforts in downtown San Jose

SAN JOSE (April 30, 2018) – With the conversion of parking into micro-retail shops at the Market-San Pedro Garage completed, four locally owned retailers will be part of the new destination’s grand opening May 18.

The shops collectively will be known as MOMENT at San Pedro Squared.
MOMENT exercises a new approach to retail that allows temporary shops to coalesce with traditional brick-and-mortar experiences.

We want MOMENT to serve as a platform for small businesses to make the leap from part-time to full-time,” said Kevin Biggers, chief strategist for San Jose Made, which is curating the vendors and managing the spaces for San Jose Downtown Association.

The conversion of parking spaces into retail shops was called San Pedro Squared because it adds activation and street life to the garage side of San Pedro Street on one of downtown’s most popular blocks.

The SJDA proposal to turn 12 parking spots on the San Pedro Square side of the garage into four 400-square-foot business spaces was a winner of the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that seeks to make the cities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.

“The parking garage has been transformed into a vibrant venue that promises to bring new life to the community and serve as a destination for residents of all kinds to meet and connect,” said Danny Harris, Knight Foundation program director for San Jose. “The new MOMENT retail stores are a great example of people-first development, aiming to address resident needs and advance the economic vitality of the neighborhood.”

The Knight Foundation, along with the Downtown San Jose Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) and City of San Jose – owners of the garage – funded the project, including a new parklet that extends along the sidewalk into a seating and social area in front of the shops.  The parklet replaced five street parking spaces.

“With MOMENT, the entire block of San Pedro between St. John and Santa Clara streets becomes more active at the perfect time when new residential developments around the square near completion,” said Chuck Hammers, PBID president.

The initial roster of MOMENT tenants includes four women-owned businesses:
  • Bobo Design Studio:  Angie Chua has created a lifestyle wanderlust brand featuring brilliant designs crafted on everything from pins and patches to bags and graphic apparel, handcrafted and made in California.
  • Fractal Flora:  Through Fractal Flora, Yuri Lee and Sarah Lim have a mission to reconnect people to nature, be it through their wonderful curation and care for the plants and flowers they sell or their popular DIY terrarium workshops.
  • Blooms Privé:  Sarah Coronado and Marie Coronado of Blooms Privé have created the next evolution of women’s underwear (patent-approved), prioritizing an empowering and inventive design for women anywhere.
  • Sea Senorita Studios:  For Sea Senorita Studios, Sofia Arredondo uses her incredible artwork to power a diverse range of products, featuring everything from paper goods to T-shirts to accessories.
For small business owners like myself, MOMENT provides an opportunity for us to get back into our community, engage with our customers and build a presence that is increasingly more difficult to do online,” said Angie Chua of Bobo Design Studio, a San Jose native who quit her job in a tech-based startup to pursue her dreams as a creative business owner.

San Pedro Squared was designed by Gensler and Eaton Hall Architecture, and built by TICO Construction.  The project’s evolution has been documented

This project achieves a number of collective community objectives – incubating local talent, transforming the public realm and creating a cluster of destination retail in our city center,” said Blage Zelalich, downtown manager in the city’s Office of Economic Development.  “We’re confident that MOMENT is going to be great for San Pedro Square and downtown San Jose.”


About PBID
Established in August 2007 and managed by the San Jose Downtown Association, the Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) provides cleaning and tree-trimming services, beautification and street life projects, downtown ambassadors and secondary police enforcement units, and business development assistance.
MOMENT is a set of four dynamic micro-retail spaces designed and programmed to advance, grow and celebrate creative retail. Powered by San Jose Made, MOMENT embodies the urgency, immediacy and verve of today’s new retail and creative culture, featuring makers, creatives, artists and emerging brands for varying short-to-mid-length durations. The first four shopkeepers will occupy the spaces through August 2018.  Visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About the San José Department of Transportation
The San José Department of Transportation (DOT) plans, develops, operates, and maintains transportation facilities, services, and related systems that contribute to the livability and economic health of the city. Our goal is to provide a transportation system that is safe, efficient, and convenient for all modes of transportation, and which supports San José’s livability and economic vitality.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Downtown Doors student art exhibit “Class of 2018” announced

20 new pieces of student art added to downtown landscape in 2018

SAN JOSE (May 3, 2018) – The 20 students selected for 2018 Downtown Doors exhibition shared personal insights and emotions to create artworks with themes ranging from the portrayal of strong women to the comical, all the while splashing vibrant colors and utilizing an abundance of techniques and styles on downtown San Jose’s urban landscape.
These compelling pieces of art will add aesthetic relief to San Jose’s core by being attached to downtown service doors and utility boxes located mostly on key thoroughfares.  The artworks also offer food for thought to thousands of pedestrians.
The winners of the annual competition -- now in its 13th year -- were among 170 submissions from students at 20 different San Jose-area high schools.  Downtown Doors are produced by the San Jose Downtown Foundation at 110 sites in the city’s core stretching from SoFA to north of San Pedro Square.  Using the same application seen on some light rail trains and buses, their pieces are enlarged, transferred onto vinyl decals and affixed tosingle- and double-panel service doors of large buildings, and a number of utility boxes throughout downtown San Jose.
Since the program began in 2003, 272 student works have been selected.
“Success is often measured by the amount of wealth, however, true success is measured in how we make the world a better place,” said Diana Beechie, past president of the San Jose Downtown Foundation.  “Our students have achieved great success by creating a more beautiful vibrant downtown.”
One central theme in this year’s collection of selected pieces celebrates women such as “Who We Are Is Who We Were” by Joann Nguyen (Piedmont Hills), “Cyber Story” by Elizabeth Thach (Evergreen Valley) an untitled work by Alexa Hernandez (San Jose HS) and “My Mother” by Keleila Taylor (Del Mar).  
Other works focus on nature and environmental awareness, such as the odd “rabbitsparrow” by Jennifer Deng (Pioneer), “Exploration of Impossibility” by Sunny Liu (Westmont), “Lured” by Lauryn Sugai (Leigh), “Belly Up” by Serendipity Tinsley (Del Mar), “Red-Shanked Duoc Monkey” by Ana-Gabriela Cadenas (Lincoln), “Tropical Toucan” by Romelia Zarate (Lincoln), Jakoby Leonard’s (Andrew P. Hill)  “An Avian Stare,” and “Summer Days” by Alan Camolinga (Leigh).
Techniques and styles ranged from watercolors to acrylics and abstracts to digital mosaics. Downtown Doors highlights include Emily Won’s (Leigh) “The Boy and His Umbrella” watercolor, Sam Rios’ (Andrew P. Hill) digitally produced “We Tread on,” “Abstract Still Life” by Cloe Smith (Del Mar), “Love at First Bite” by Hannah Cho (Santa Teresa), untitled work by Michelle Luu (Independence), Dillon Mulvany’s (Willow Glen) modern nighttime streetscape “Into the City” and “ARCANDYA” by Identically named friends Michelle Pham (Yerba Buena).
Downtown Doors has proven to be a stepping stone toward better grades, graduation, college and a leadership position in society.  Students often claim that the Downtown Doors competition confirms their talent as artists. Every person selected shows excitement at being included on the prestigious list of Downtown Doors winners.
A private reception honoring the artists and their works will take place May 10 at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Program sponsors include: Catered Too!, City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, Cornish, Carey, Newmark & Knight, Kimley Horn, KQED, Offices of Councilmembers Dev Davis , Chappie Jones, Johnny Khamis, and Don Rocha, Orchard Commercial, Pestana Properties, Republic Services, Silicon Valley Community Foundation – Donor Circle for the Arts, and SV Creates.  In-Kind contributions by Adobe, Catered Too!, Juan Borrelli, Mangold Designs, San Jose Museum of Art and University Art.
2018 site hosts include: Imwalle Properties (former Camera 12 Cinemas), Fairmont Hotel, Westin San Jose, City of San Jose, The 88, Digital Realty, Harvest Properties at 60 S. Market St. and Hammer Theatre Center,

This year’s new installations and a walking map of the art sites are posted at The students’ work will be viewable for several years before being replaced.

The Downtown Doors Class of 2018:
Andrew P Hill High School

Title:  An Avian Stare
Artist:  Leonard Jakoby, 10
Location: CSJ Utility box at the southeast corner of Market and Santa Clara streets

Title: We Tread On
Artist:  Sam Rios, 11
Location: Imwalle Properties, on the former Camera 12

Del Mar High School

Title: My Mother
Artist:  Keleila Taylor, 11
Location: Imwalle Properties, on the former Camera 12

Title: Belly Up
Artist:  Serendipity Tinsley, 11
Location: Digital Realty

Title: Abstract Still Life
Artist:  Cloe Smith, 11
Location: Hammer Theatre Center

Evergreen Valley High School

Title:  CyberStory
Artist:  Elizabeth Thach, 12
Location:  Fairmont San Jose

Independence High School

Title:  Untitled
Artist:  Michelle Luu, 12
Location:  Westin San Jose

Leigh High School

Title: Summer Days
Artist: Alan Camolinga, 12
Location: The 88

Title: Lured
Artist: Lauryn Sugai, 12
Site Host:  Fairmont San Jose

Title: The Boy and His Umbrella
Artist: Emily Won, 11
Location:  Westin San Jose

Lincoln High School

Title:  Ana, the Red-Shanked Duoc Monkey
Artist:  Ana-Gabriela Cadena, 10
Location:  CSJ Utility box at the southeast corner of Third and San Carlos streets

Title:  Tropical Toucan
Artist:  Romelia Zarate, 11
Location:  Fairmont San Jose

Piedmont Hills High School

Title:  Who We Were Is Who We Are
Artist: Joann Nguyen, 11
Location:  Fairmont San Jose

Title:  Untitled
Artist:  Hannah Le
Location: Hammer Theatre Center

Pioneer High School

Title:  Rabbitsparrow
Artist:  Jennifer Deng, 11
Location:  Fairmont San Jose

San Jose High School

Title:  Untitled
Artist:  Alexa Hernandez, 12
Location: Imwalle Properties, on the former Camera 12

Santa Teresa High School

Title:  Love at First Bite
Artist:  Hannah Cho, 12
Location: Digital Realty

Westmont High School

Title: Exploration of Impossibility
Artist:  Sunny Liu, 12
Location:  Harvest Properties, 60 S. Market St.

Willow Glen High School

Title: Into the City
Artist:  Dillon Mulvany, 12
Location: CSJ Utility box on Santa Clara Street, between Second and Third streets

Yerba Buena High School

Artist:  Michelle Pham and Michelle T. Pham, 12
Location: Fairmont San Jose


About:  The San Jose Downtown Foundation (SJDF) promotes cultural awareness and civic participation in San Jose and Santa Clara County through youth education programs, public events and art exhibits.  SJDF is the 501c3 arm of the San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA), whose mission is to represent business and property owners to improve downtown and enhance downtown’s vitality and livability.

 School tally of Downtown Doors Winners (2003-2018)

East Side Union HS District
(19) Piedmont Hills – 09, 09, 09, 10, 11, 11, 11, 12, 12, 12, 13, 13, 14, 14, 15, 15, 17, 18, 18
(17) Santa Teresa – 06, 09, 11, 11, 12, 12, 14, 14, 14, 15, 15, 15, 16, 17, 17, 17, 18
(15) Evergreen Valley – 09, 09, 09, 09, 10, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13, 15, 15, 15, 16, 16, 18
(11) Andrew P Hill – 12, 12, 13, 13, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 18
(9) Independence – 12, 13, 14, 15, 15, 16, 17, 17, 18
(9) Mount Pleasant –  04, 05, 10, 10, 11, 11, 12, 16, 17
(8) Yerba Buena – 10, 14, 14, 15, 16, 17, 17, 18
(3) James Lick – 11, 12, 16
(3) Oak Grove – 07, 07, 07
(2) Silver Creek – 12, 13
(97) East Side SubTotal
(50) Lincoln (includes Saturday Art Academy) – 03, 03, 03, 03, 04, 04, 04, 04, 04, 05, 05, 05, 05, 05, 05, 05, 05, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 06, 07, 07, 07, 07, 07, 07, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 10, 10, 12, 12, 13, 14, 14, 18, 18
(32) Notre Dame – 06, 07, 07, 07, 07, 07, 07, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 09, 10, 11, 11, 11, 12, 12, 12, 13, 13, 13, 13, 15, 15, 15, 16, 16, 17
(13) Leigh – 09, 11, 12, 13, 15, 15, 16, 17, 17, 17, 18, 18, 18
(12) Homestead – 12, 12, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 14, 16, 17, 17
(12) Pioneer –12, 12, 12, 12, 13, 13, 13, 14, 14, 17, 17, 18
(9) Gunderson – 14, 14, 14, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16, 16
(9) Willow Glen – 12, 14, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16, 16, 18
(8) Del Mar – 12, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 18, 18
(6) Cupertino – 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 11
(5) San Jose High Academy – 04, 05, 05, 05, 05
(3) Downtown College Prep – 04, 07, 07
(3) San Jose High – 16, 17, 18
(2) Bellarmine College Prep. – 10, 17
(1) Leland – 16
(1)   Westmont – 18
(1) Castillero Middle – 12

(167) All other districts Subtotal

(2) Okayama, Japan – 14, 16
(2) Pune, India – 14, 16
(2) Tainan, Taiwan – 14, 16
(1) Dublin, Ireland – 14
(1) San Jose, Costa Rica – 14
(8) International Subtotal

(272) TOTAL

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Guest Post - A Crisis Means Opportunity

Below is a thoughtful post by Leslye Corsiglia on affordable housing in Silicon Valley. This is one of the most significant issues San Jose currently faces and I have personally seen a lot of great San Joseans that have contributed to the local community leave town because they could no longer afford to live here. While there is no simple solution, there are several ideas to move the needle in the right direction below.

A Crisis Means Opportunity

Last month, the Mercury News published stories about a burned out house in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood that sold for more than $900,000 and a condemned house in Fremont that fetched $1.2 million. These stories are vivid reminders of the Bay Area’s housing crisis and exemplify the dilemma faced by our residents, where even families earning six figures have trouble finding a decent place to live.

A new study by the California Housing Partnership found that Bay Area residents need to earn more than four times the minimum wage or about $60 an hour to afford Bay Area rents.  And even that might not be enough. Last year, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development classified a family of four earning $105,000 as low income.

But in every crisis there is opportunity, and right now we have two options: (1) allow the housing crisis to fester, turning the Bay Area into a gated community, where only the wealthy can live, or (2) start laying the foundation for economically diverse communities through the development of affordable housing, so that all people have a chance for success.

Option one seems oddly un-American. Option two is closer to what the promise of America represents. So how do we get there?

First, we need a more regional approach to the housing crisis. Luckily, there is no shortage of ideas, and some are already hard at work on the problem. CASA—the Committee to House the Bay Area—is working on regional solutions that would increase residential production, preserve existing housing, and protect current residents facing displacement. CASA will complete its work later this year. Check it out:

We need our local communities to step up with solutions. Many are. San Jose has a plan to add 25,000 new homes, including 10,000 that are affordable, in the next five years. Mountain View just approved the North Bayshore Precise Plan, which includes 9,850 new homes. Palo Alto just approved a progressive Housing Work Plan to significantly increase housing production, and, of course, there is the County’s Measure A, which voters approved last year to create more than 5,000 new homes, a significant percentage for homeless families and individuals.

We need help from the state. Our Bay Area Legislative Caucus was instrumental in passing an historic 15-bill housing package last year, which included Senator Bob Wieckowski’s bill to increase accessory dwelling units (granny flats) and Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 35, which is streamlining housing development in cities like Cupertino in exchange for making 50% of the units affordable. But more tools and more money must be forthcoming.

We need the assistance of the private sector. New start-up companies like RAD Urban and Factory OS in Vallejo are using modular construction techniques to reduce the cost of building safe, attractive homes for people of all income levels.  

And we need you. We now have an emerging consensus that the housing crisis is bad for the Bay Area and California, and we need to offer ways for residents to do something about it. This week’s Affordable Housing Week provides that opportunity. The week is designed to educate, inspire, and engage the public about the housing crisis and what we can do about it with 27 different activities. Check it out:

To create opportunity from crisis, we must act locally, community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, person to person.

Leslye Corsiglia is executive director of Silicon Valley at Home.