County Holds Forums about Cost of Living in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is enjoying its fifth straight year of unfettered growth. Job growth out-paces the nation. Driverless cars, the Internet of things, web apps and a crop of IPOs promise greater, unprecedented wealth.

But the valley's economic ascent only worsens the region's affordability crisis.

More than half of new jobs through 2018 will pay $50,000 or less, according to state employment projections. Meanwhile, the cost of housing continues to climb, pricing low- and middle-wage workers out of the market.

Santa Clara County's Office of Human Relations is inviting public testimony about the cost of living in Silicon Valley.

"The Price We Pay" forum takes place over two sessions, one at 2pm and another at 6pm, on Monday at the County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding Street. Interpreting and free child care will be provided. Click here for more information about the event.

The county says it already began collecting feedback:

Concerns already gathered from the community include: the difficulty of living from paycheck to paycheck; inability to find sustainable income through one source of employment; the need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet; inability to save for emergencies, higher education of children and retirement; reliance on payday lending; inability to access affordable housing; high adolescent and young adult unemployment; reliance on food banks, even while working; increased youth and adult crime.

Sources within the county tell San Jose Inside that Supervisor Cindy Chavez has been aggressively pushing the topic of living wage ordinances, despite the fact that the county would have little control over enforcement or changing the status quo.

Testimony from the sessions will be compiled into a report for the Board of Supervisors, "so they can have the information as they develop policies and practices," according to a county announcement.


    • Cognitive dissonance? I’ll tell you about cognitive dissonance.

      Cognitive dissonance is failing to have a grasp of the reality that there are over 6 billion people on this planet, most of whom live under worse economic circumstances than we enjoy here in silicon valley.
      Cognitive dissonance is failing to grasp the reality that vast numbers of them would rather live here despite the highly advertised horrors of unaffordability.
      Cognitive dissonance is not having a clue that no matter how many “affordable houses” we cram into this valley it will never be enough.
      Cognitive dissonance is believing that by trashing our hometown we’re actually helping “the poor” when the truth is we’re only helping the fatcat developers.

      Get a clue.

  1. To me, this looks like a prelude to the rent control expansion beyond just mobile homes and apartment buildings.
    I mean, look at the results so far!

  2. OK fine but can we please look at all the communities in Santa Clara County. San Jose has the least amount of city services, the least amount of revenue coming from business and the most amount of housing. I am tired of being the only city doing our fair share to combat this issue. Step up Palo Alto, Mountain View and Cupertino!

  3. Those concerns, from all those compassionate, well-meaning folks, should be printed up on pamphlets and distributed under two titles, one in Spanish “Bienvenidos Ilegales,” — to be passed out at hospitals and every other place offering something for free, the second in English, “Your Sanctuary Dividend” — to be distributed at constructions sites, warehouses, restaurants, hardware stores, and the employment office.

  4. The best way to bring down housing costs in the valley is to get rid of the restrictive zoning practices that make it impossible for affordable, market-rate housing to be built close to jobs. Palo Alto, Saratoga, Cupertino, Mtn View, and SJ are in thrall to the upper middle class neighborhood votes that want to keep their neighborhoods low density, which means that 99% of the valley can’t build affordable, high density housing because supply is limited. Open up supply, free homeowners from restrictive zoning, and watch a thousand flowers bloom.
    BTW on a related issue: has anyone noticed how downtown sj homeless populations seems to have boomed this summer? Has something changed?

  5. Yeah, something changed… all the mental and disability hospitals have closed, the general population is booming, and housing costs are through the roof. The homeless population has been booming here for about 3 years, judged by the regression of Saint James Park. Residents are frustrated, and we don’t see many developers rushing to build “affordable housing”. In a valley where too many pay over half their income on mortgages, exactly what is “affordable”?

    • Thanks Downtown Dweller for the update. If we’re all noticing the increase in homeless population downtown, and if it’s because of the closing of mental and disability hospitals, I guess the next question is: Why are they coming to DTSJ?

      • I really don’t think they’re coming to DTSJ per se…pretty much everywhere you’ve seen the homeless population historically have had the same increases. But your other point about zoning is well taken, if the government tells auto makers that they’re only allowed to build Cadillacs, we shouldn’t be surprised when you see a lot of people without cars.

  6. It would be nice if these wonderful politicians would do something about the high taxes that make living in this area a high cost nightmare.

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