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.

131014-sfsj-commuter-map

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






September 9, 2013

We’re all Bozos on this Google Bus

We thought about bringing up the Google Gossip about Sergey leaving his wife for Google Glass Gal, but we thought better of it. Nothing more predictable than yet another dude with too much money having a midlife crisis and discovering the joys of a relationship with a younger woman.  Instead, we bring you a different Google story, which is actually real-estate related.

Mapping Silicon Valley’s Gentrification Problem Through Corporate Shuttle Routes

20130908-googlebus-mapBY ERIC RODENBECK, Wired Magazine
09.06.13 9:30 AM

Digital flows of information and the capital that it’s generating are having a material input on the physical landscape.

Here’s an ironic thing: I spend a good part of my day designing maps and data visualizations that represent change, while working out of one of the most change-resistant corners in the city of San Francisco.

For the past dozen or so years, the 16th and Mission Street BART plaza below the studio where we work has steadfastly hosted a diverse, rotating cast of characters — from drug dealers and preachers to musicians and hipsters, cheek by jowl with families, social activists, Social Security poets (sadly a shrinking population), and, increasingly but haltingly, young workers in the great technology fields to the south.

It’s proven a remarkably resilient situation: It was this way when I watched it in 2001, at the nadir of the dot-com crash. And it’s this way in 2013, at the mid-point of what some are calling the next big tech boom, the bastard love child of late 1990s Delusion 1.0. Yet the city is just bursting with change these days, if construction is an indicator. When I look out my window, I see at least nine active construction cranes at any given time (and that number would be even higher if it weren’t for the new scaffolding blocking my view of the rest of the city).

Neighborhoods that just 10 years ago were once written off as un-developable are seeing barriers to change break down every day. Why? It’s tough to point to a single cause, but it seems abundantly clear that digital flows of information and the attendant capital that it’s generating are having a material input on the physical urban landscape.

130908-googlebus-posterNow, the title above is completely off the mark.  This article isn’t in any way about Silicon Valley’s gentrification problem.  It’s about San Francisco’s gentrification problem because of those high paying jobs in Silicon Valley.  You would never know from reading the Wired piece that there are “Google buses” all throughout Silicon Valley and its exurbs, not just running various SF to Mountain View routes.  We’ve seen the luxury shuttle buses in San Ramon, in Los Gatos, and in Scotts Valley.  Every one of those buses means the employees onboard are not driving their own vehicles to work, and they are free to come up with brilliant ideas during the commute thanks to onboard WiFi.

They’re also free to play video poker, just like hardworking Senator John McCain.  And like Senators, taking private shuttle buses insulates tech workers from having to deal with ordinary people on public transit. You would be amazed at all the resentment there is toward the Google buses.  Maybe it’s because all those highly-paid tech workers are driving up rents and sales prices, forcing everyone else to move to the East Bay.

Meanwhile, in order to figure out the unpublished list of private shuttle bus stops, Wired had to hire a bunch of bike messengers to follow the buses… and scribble notes on paper.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am

December 11, 2011

NASA encouraging Commuter Airplanes: This means War!

imageDid you know that your tax dollars are subsidizing the possible destruction of the Real Bay Area as we know it?

NASA is offering a series of prizes to encourage Green Flight.  These “green” flying machines are called SAVs, or Suburban Air Vehicles, which would have either VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) or ESTOL (extremely short yadda yadda) abilities.  “Pocket airports,” which need be no larger than 2 acres, could be placed anywhere as the planes would have electric motors. 

Electric motors would be much quieter than gas motors, so there wouldn’t be the noise factor that you get from a conventional airport.  Think flying EVs.  Being close to a pocket airport could be not a location fail but a location win.  Heavily trafficked areas could have SAV taxis rather than leaving the plane parked all day. 

imageWhile this X-Prize approach to solving traffic problems might sound all ecological and high minded (ha ha), this is a threat to our entire way of life!  Realize what this would mean to home prices in the RBA

NASA is encouraging aircraft designs that could have a range of up to one thousand miles per battery charge.  That means the RBA could expand as far away as Montana!  After all, why is the RBA so Special?  It’s close to the great jobs.  And what keeps commutes from further afield long and painful?  Gridlocked traffic!  That’s why people pay the prices they do for Burbed-worthy habitation!

imageNot only that, Google has just stabbed us all in the back by being a major backer of the prize money!  The first stage of awards, totaling $1.65 million, were made possible by Google’s involvement.

According to a study done using patterns in Sonoma County, removing just 3500 vehicles a day from the Golden Gate Bridge and San Rafael Bridges would alleviate gridlock (see page 27, Sonoma-Marin County Commute Model, also the traffic study itself).  That means commutes would be less painful for the automobile drivers as well as those on these SAVs (which everyone knows stands for Suburban Assault Vehicle).

imageNot only that, imagine these damned miniplanes hogging the ChargeStation and leaving your Leaf or Volt stranded!  I tell you, Real Bay Areans, contact your Congresscritter and demand that NASA stop investing in technology that will allow just anyone to get to work at Google yet also own a house on ten acres for half the price you paid for a mansion in Cupertino

Remember, high property values means nobody else gets in after you!  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

July 14, 2010

Bay Area traitors

The New Suburbs, a Plane Ride Away

Professionals Seeking Affordable Homes Move to Pacific Northwest but Keep Bay Area Jobs; Spacious Living Near Seattle

In the quest for vibrant, affordable neighborhoods, some Bay Area professionals are moving north—way north, to Portland and Seattle.

Scott McNeely is a transplant to the Pacific Northwest who kept his job in the Bay Area. Mr. McNeely, online director for San Francisco-based Internet travel company Viator Inc., used to live in the Mission District. But several years ago, he and his wife began pining for more kid-friendly environs after becoming parents.

High real-estate prices across the Bay Area made moving even to the East Bay a stretch. So about 18 months ago, Mr. McNeely and his family moved 650 miles north, to Portland. There, they bought a four-bedroom house for about $350,000 that was large enough to accommodate his two children and a Great Dane. Viator agreed to let Mr. McNeely telecommute, with occasional trips to its San Francisco headquarters.

"If we were going to move to the equivalent of the suburbs of the Bay Area, why not move to a place like Portland?" says Mr. McNeely, 40 years old.

There has been a northward migration for years by Bay Area residents looking for everything from affordable real estate to better public schools. But moving usually meant giving up their jobs, which are generally more lucrative and plentiful here than in the Pacific Northwest, especially for technology workers.

Now it is getting more practical for people to live in the Pacific Northwest and continue working for Bay Area-based companies, as more employers loosen their telecommuting policies. Technology also is making it easier to stay connected all the time, and travel between San Francisco and cities to the north has become more convenient, though hard data on Bay Area transplants to the Northwest who retain their local jobs are hard to come by.

Alex Payne plans to move to Portland with his wife next month, while keeping his job at San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. Last October, Mr. Payne caused a stir when he blogged about his frustrations with San Francisco’s quality of life, including criticisms of its public transit and high cost of living.

In contrast, the 26-year-old believes Portland is a "model of urban design." Mr. Payne is especially impressed with the revitalization of Portland’s Pearl District, a once-grimy industrial neighborhood that now teems with art galleries and restaurants. Portland’s lower property costs also are appealing, though he initially plans to rent.

"It’s actually affordable by mere mortals," Mr. Payne says. "I looked at buying a place in San Francisco, but you’re talking a half million dollars for a hovel."

San Francisco’s median home value in late February was $691,600, compared with $362,800 for Seattle and $236,100 for Portland, according to real-estate site Zillow Inc. San Francisco’s median home price increased 1.1% over the past year, while the average price fell 7.1% in Seattle and 9.9% in Portland, according to Zillow.

Mr. Payne says the short plane ride between Portland and San Francisco—about one hour and 45 minutes—was a big factor in making the arrangement work, since he plans to spend four or five days a month at Twitter’s headquarters. Twitter will reimburse him for the flights, he says. In Seattle, commuters can now bypass the city’s thick traffic by hopping on a light-rail line to the airport, while San Francisco and Portland began offering similar transit options in the past decade.

Alaska Airlines recently began running advertisements promoting flights between Portland, San Jose and Austin as "nerd birds," because of the preponderance of tech-industry commuters shuttling between those locations.

Egads. Something must be done about this. This is unacceptable – taking up Bay Area jobs, but then living sales tax free in Oregon in a cheap home? Unacceptable!

If you’re only working in the Bay Area, but not buying or renting a home to support the landed gentry of Prop 13’ers, then you are not adding value! What’s more important? Your financial future and your children’s financial future? Or helping Prop 13’ers with their retirement?

These are Bay Area Traitors.

I propose Prop 131313 – If you work in California, you must live in California. Period.

Whose with me on this one? Meg? Jerry?

Comments (48) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:33 am

September 20, 2007

We’re in the Top 10 again! Woohoo!

Nothing makes me happier than to see the Bay Area as #1 or Top 10.

And once again, we’ve done it!

San Jose Mercury News – Mr. Roadshow

Look at that – New York didn’t even place. TAKE THAT NEW YORK.

Woot!

It’s only a matter of time before we (as in Palo Alto and Cupertino) surpass Manhattan in price per square foot. I can smell victory.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:29 am