Housing Dominates the Conversation at SV Leadership Group’s Annual Luncheon

Housing and public safety were the hot topics at Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Annual Luncheon Friday.

Hundreds packed into the Santa Clara Convention Center to hear from politicos and business leaders including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, State Controller Betty Yee, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Governor Gavin Newsom’s Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary. But the “Community Conversations,” as the Leadership Group called them, stayed in line with some of California’s biggest issues.

“I would say that the biggest issues on our agenda are really about affordability and opportunity,” O’Leary said about Newsom’s priorities. “You can’t live anywhere in California without realizing that the prices [are] so real. We put $1.75 billion dollars into our budget on affordable housing, but we have so far to go.”

When he took office earlier this year, Newsom vowed to build 3.5 million homes over the next five years. But to do that, O’Leary said they’re going to need to collaborate with local governments. California’s third largest city, San Jose, hopes to contribute to some of that housing stock. In 2017, Liccardo set a goal of building 25,000 new homes—10,000 of them affordable—by 2022.

On Friday, Liccardo said he wants Silicon Valley’s so-called capital to play a more innovative role in the construction industry. While there has been some progress in boosting interest in prefabricated backyard homes, it hasn’t been enough to keep pace with the growing need for affordable housing.

“We’ve been able to permit more ADUs, or backyard homes, in the last year than we saw in the last four years combined,” Liccardo said. “And we think we can really drive that cost down now with prefabricated modular construction so this is a great opportunity for us to get affordable housing built and partner with a lot of homeowners.”

Liccardo also gave attendees an update on his gun liability proposal. The mayor announced the policy in August, just weeks after a gunman opened fire on a crowd at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The plan would require firearms owners to carry liability insurance for their weapons. If someone wasn’t able to acquire the insurance, they’d pay a fee to help offset the cost of gun violence in San Jose.

Liccardo said that his team has been working with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown For Gun Safety, among other organizations, to review the legal aspects of the policy.

“If you can imagine it is complex, of course any time you’re dealing with a constitutional right,” he said. “But we expect to be at council in the next couple of months with a formal proposal that would have insurance mandate for anyone owning a gun in the city.”

Liccardo said he hopes other cities and states take notice and follow with similar policies.

Schaaf also chimed in on the region’s housing crisis, but from a transportation angle, blaming the Bay Area’s traffic jams on the inability to “plan adequately for housing.”

“If we wanted to solve our commute problems we could do it faster and cheaper by just building affordable housing near jobs,” she said.“These mega commutes are really unhealthy for our families and for our planet.”


  1. > “You can’t live anywhere in California without realizing that the prices [are] so real. We put $1.75 billion dollars into our budget on affordable housing, but we have so far to go.”

    These lunkheads have apparently never heard of the laws of supply and demand.

    If demand for housing in California is HIGH, then spending taxpayer dollars to lower the price of housing (or increasing supply) will jack up demand to even HIGHER levels, which will — surprise –escalate prices!

    And the politics is even more pathological: cramming the government clients demanding “affordable housing” into urban stack and pack voter warehouses just concentrates and increases the clamor for “affordable housing”, which undermines any market based solution.

    Socialized food production creates food shortages (famines).

    Socialized housing policies creates housing shortages.

  2. On queue, the Metro conditions the brainwashed Bay Area voter to fund projects for the rich to collect rent on. The Metro is as bad as newspapers that convince their readers to fund football stadiums.

    If you want cheaper housing, convert all Open Spaces to residential zoning, build build build and end sanctuary city policies. Prices would drop to $200K-$300K. A nice by-product would be a growth of great middle class jobs. Urban sprawl is the middle classes best friend.

    But your overlords (and their message boards like the Merc and the Metro) won’t, because … ?

      • Are there parcels in the County of more than 1000 acres owned by single individuals that could be converted for housing?

        • > Are there parcels in the County of more than 1000 acres owned by single individuals that could be converted for housing?

          So, after the government confiscates (or coerces) all the 1000 acre parcels in the bay area and converts them to cheap housing for grateful Democrat voters, then what?

          Who’s going to feed all of the thousands of people who can’t afford to house themselves?

          I know! They’ll get jobs at Google! The impoverished, unfed, unhoused future Democrat voters know how to create software apps for the cloud, right? Or, if not, they can monitor the G-mail accounts and web searches of Google users, right?

          • Did I ever say confiscate?

            Why not allow the owners a chance to develop them?

  3. Watching from the outside I’m impressed by ball bearing of California spiraling down a giant funnel of chaos and anarchy, it spins faster and faster the lower it goes. Just before it drops into the wasteful abyss of totalitarianisms, the politician launches another ball of wisdom to take your eye off the terrible pitfall of the scheme of socialism.
    The inevitable downfall of a once vibrant and productive society, Kerplunk!

  4. Surprising that homeless impacts aren’t the #1 issue. Despite millions spent on shelters, treatment, and low income housing in a roaring economy, homeless and their impacts continue to spiral upwards. Yet we continue to avoid solutions that have and do work for many.

    The Salvation Army’s program is one. Yes, those that fail to follow their rules get evicted. Probably not suitable for those severe mental health problems either. But their success rates are far better than the few homeless services providers that publish outcome data. And they don’t accept public funds.

    Elmwood began as the County’s poor farm. And Agnews was available for those too mentally ill to care for themselves. Both worked and used inmate labor to offset food costs by growing crops.

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