October 19, 2013

San Francisco & San Jose: Two Different Metros. WTFF? WHY?

131014-sfsj-bayareaThe conventional definition of the Bay Area was always the nine counties that touched SF Bay somewhere.  These were:

  • San Francisco, which everyone used to acknowledge as The City, because it was a City and a County both!
  • Alameda, its close-by yet cheaper urban commuter residence, home to Oakland, Berkeley, and of course, Hayward.
  • Contra Costa, further away, and featuring the lovely features of Richmond contrasted with the excitement of the I-680 corridor.
  • San Mateo, the nicer bedroom county. Not as nice as Marin, but easier to get to, and more importantly now, waaaaay closer to Google.
  • Santa Clara, formerly the valley of fruits and nuts, now home to the real economic engines. As in Google and Apple and Facebook and Intel and Cisco and a bunch of other places that make it possible for you to read this blog every day.
  • Marin, home to aging hippies and even more aging real estate, it’s the whitest part of the Bay Area
  • Sonoma, rural and removed from, well, everything above.
  • Napa, even more rural and removed except when the tourists clog up the wineries.
  • Solano, our very own Stockton on the Bay. That’s a reference to their finances, not their cattle ranching. Vallejo has a different economy.

Yet The Bay Area is often missing from lists comparing different parts of the country because the Census Bureau (now in shutdown mode!) decided to break The Bay Area into two different metropolitan areas.  There’s the San Francisco Metropolitan Statistical Area, and there’s the San Jose one.  San Francisco also got Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin counties. 

What did San Jose get?  San fucking Benito.  Thanks a LOT, Census anal-retentives.  You take the fifth largest metro area in the country and bust us into number 11. And number 34. Thanks a fucking lot, people counting geeks.  We really appreciate all the respect for our geographic integrity.


Breaking SF and SJ into different metros is utterly stupid. Also, SF gets San Mateo AND Alameda Counties, which have plenty of commuters crossing into Santa Clara County.

I finally found some actual commuting numbers in this chart here.  72 thousand San Mateo County residents commute to SF and 61 thousand commute to Santa Clara County.  But… this was in 2010. Lots more people even in SF taking the Google Bus now.  (SF-to-SCC commuters was 18K, the reverse was 7K)

You know what else is stupid? This graph. The size of the arrows seems to have little to do with how many commuters they represent when compared to the same size arrow in another county.  That big-assed snot-green one coming out of Contra Costa to Alameda?  It actually is the biggest inter-county commute, with 120 thousand people crossing the line to get to work. But the two opposed arrows out of San Mateo County, going to SF and Santa Clara County?  The baby shit brown one is longer but the purple one represents 10,000 more people.  Similarly, the same two colors coming out of Alameda?  That fabulous purple arrow is longer and just as wide, but there’s 6,000 more people heading to Silicon Valley than The City.

The chart key says arrow width is what matters, not length. But that’s bad design.  A stubby arrow connotes direction but also represents area.  A longer arrow should either show a longer commute or also more commuters.  And both SF vs SJ (well, SCC) arrows are not equilinear, yet the danged chart doesn’t tell us why that is.

131014-sfsj-commuteThere are more jobs in SCC than any other county in the Bay Area, too, 953K.  The next biggest job center is Alameda County with 737K, and The So-Called City is third with 621K.

Feel free to talk about your commute, where your job is in relation to your house, or anything you want. It’s not like we’ve ever removed a post for being off-topic.

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:01 am

18 Responses to “San Francisco & San Jose: Two Different Metros. WTFF? WHY?”

  1. dollarbin Says:

    I’m a green arrow, SC to SM represent!

  2. nomadic Says:

    Wow, madhaus, you sound fuckin’ mad.

    I wouldn’t show on the map. I don’t cross county lines to get to work.

  3. dibber Says:

    Agree SF and SJ are part of same metro area. Everyone that lives here thinks of it that way. When combine, Bay Area is 4th biggest in terms of populations, so bigger than Houston, Atlanta Miami, Phili, Boston, Detroit etc. Of course, I’m not sure it matters.

    If we want to turn this into a rah rah Bay Area site, you should also look into the fact that the market capitalization of public companies based in the Bay Area is now the biggest in the US. In other words, sure the NY stock exchange and the Nasdaq are based in NYC, but the companies are all out here now.

  4. Steve Tyler Says:

    What do those arrows look like when BART is shut down?

  5. Real Estater Says:

    I don’t care about SF and hardly ever go there. I’d rather keep SV as its own Metro area.

  6. Real Estater Says:

    Just saw this new PA listing.

    Let’s be real here. Eichler homes are crap. It’s worth exacty zero value. There is no sense in restoring any such home. Knock it down and use the opportunity to improve the neighborhood.

  7. very amused Says:

    value is in the land!

  8. mtv-renter Says:

    Opportunity to restore an original Eichler? That’s hilarious. That’s like buying an old Yugo for the opportunity to restore it.

  9. nomadic Says:

    I don’t know guys. It’s one of the best PA listings I’ve ever seen on here. The lot size is even approaching reasonable.

  10. mtv-renter Says:

    In my opinion, if you’re going to be buying into Palo Alto, you should buy a place which lets you make use of Palo Alto’s nice features. Palo Alto is one of the few nice downtowns on the peninsula, so I totally understand paying top dollar to live there given the paucity of housing around here, but this Eichler is Palo Alto prices nowhere near “nice” Palo Alto, you’re just paying for a zip code.

  11. Real Estater Says:

    #10, keep in mind it’s priced accordingly. Basically it’s an alternative to living in Sunnyvale 94087.

  12. dollarbin Says:

    In Palo Alto, $1.2 mil is more “chump change” than “top dollar”. Plus, between Google buying up East Meadow Circle and leasing the Mayfield Mall site, South Palo Alto will be practically walking distance from thousands of Google jobs.

    Eichler haters can suck it. This model still has a lot of the original touches intact, like the mahogany paneling and the globe lights. It wouldn’t take much money to fix it up into something the ever increasing numbers of Eichler fans would pay top dollar for. If you think something built in 1957 is worthless, tell that to people who get $30K to $100K or more for a 1957 Chevy.

  13. Wave9x Says:

    Facebook is in San Mateo County, not Santa Clara, BTW…

  14. The DQYDJ Weekender, 10/26/2013 — Don't Quit Your Day Job... Says:

    […] week old, but a great piece at Burbed – who decided that San Francisco and San Jose were different metro areas for census purposes?  We’re sick of losing to you marginal census defined MSAs because an idiot with a slide […]

  15. SiO2 Says:

    Would PA have some restrictions prohibiting the buyer from scraping and rebuilding? If not, $1.2m for the lot is actually reasonable by sv standards.

  16. dollarbin Says:

    Some of the snootier Eichler neighborhoods have zoning overlays which prevent adding a second story, but I don’t believe Janice way is in one of them, so you could probably have your way with the lot. There’s an older Eichler development closer to Oregon Expressway (Marshall Dr. and Moreno Ave. between Louis and Ross) where the originals sell for about $1.3 Mil as teardowns.

  17. dollarbin Says:

    The market has spoken: the Janice Way Eichler closed for $1.83 Million or $1103/sq ft. Did they buy it for the dirt or to fix up a mid-century gem in the rough? Only time and building permits will tell. But even in Silicon Valley it’s hard to imagine someone with that kind of bread tolerating the indignities of having only two small bathrooms. R.I.P.

    Speaking of teardowns:
    $1.9 Million or $1699/sq ft on the formerly “wrong” side of Oregon Expressway. This is one of the teardown Eichlers I was talking about above, I’m surprised they even bothered sweeping the floors before flipping it.

  18. Real Estater Says:

    Inventory is nose-diving. Only 7 houses left on the market in Palo Alto. If inventory doesn’t pick up in January, you’ll see the same scene as last year replay again.

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