Good questions about the lasting impact of Silicon Valley’s prosperity

In today’s San Jose Mercury News, long-time Silicon Valley reporter and columnist Michelle Quinn asks this question: What if this tech boom is, gulp, not a bubble after all, but a major, sustained period of growth?

It is a question surfacing more and more in Silicon Valley. Reverberations from the “prosperity bomb,” as Quinn calls it, undoubtedly will be long lasting. Most Silicon Valley veterans do not believe the area is in a “bubble,” but they do believe there will be an economic slow down. That won’t help the housing / jobs imbalance, however. Will all of Silicon Valley’s individual government parts be able to come together in a more regional way? Time will tell. In the meantime, here’s a part of Quinn’s column and a link to the full column if you’d like to read more.

-Steve Wright

Quinn: The housing crisis ahead of us

What if this tech boom is, gulp, not a bubble after all, but a major, sustained period of growth?

What if rather than tech corridors popping up all over the country, the need for a company to be here, of all places, only intensifies?

Where are the extra people going to live? Where are those 2 million additional people expected to flood the region over the next generation going to sleep?

These are some of the questions I’ve pondered as Apple gobbles up land in North San Jose, LinkedIn and Google tussle over swaths of real estate in Mountain View, Facebook’s workforce of 9,000 is predicted to grow as much as 20 percent annually and Toyota announced it is opening a $1 billion new innovation hub.

Global demand for tech products and services means a prosperity bomb is going off in the Bay Area that will reshape the region for decades to come.

In many ways, the impact is already being felt. Regional planners, in 2010, did their best, but they underestimated the five-year employment growth here by a whopping 90,000 jobs.

People grouse about the highway traffic, the crowded roads and inadequate public transportation. But that’s just a symptom of our current situation with jobs in one place and housing in another, says Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“Transportation is a servant, not the master,” he said. “There’s a massive imbalance; the transportation has to work that much harder to serve the pattern we’ve built.”

Feeling crowded now? Expect to feel more so. Looking ahead, one high-growth projection is that by 2040, jobs will grow 32 percent — an extra 1.2 million jobs — on top of the 3.7 million already here in the nine-county Bay Area, according to a new report out by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

The Bay Area population is projected to rise 30 percent to 9.4 milion by 2040, up from 7.2 million in 2010, according to updated projections from the Association of Bay Area Governments. This is a tsunami of people that the region, with its geographic constraints, will somehow have to absorb. Try 800,000 more housing units.

Of course, we need a strong regional response, as uncomfortable as that may be for those who eschew change. Cities that enjoy their roles as Bay Area job centers need to step up and allow housing projects. Residents in those cities need to vote in officials who support growth. Companies need to invest in offices that put jobs closer to where people live or near public transit. And homeowners like me who bought a while ago need to accept that things have changed and be open to accepting more neighbors and using public transportation to get around. Driving over the Bay Bridge in 20 minutes is not a birthright.

Read more here.