In Silicon Valley, liberal pols look to drive up cost of housing

In Silicon Valley, liberal pols look to drive up cost of housing

palo-alto-elyisumThe emergence of Silicon Valley as one of the wealthiest places in the world has led to plenty of media coverage that points out how it has become a poster child for income inequality. This is from a March Associated Press story:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Silicon Valley is entering a fifth year of unfettered growth. The median household income is $90,000. The average single-family home sells for about $1 million. The airport is adding a multimillion-dollar private jet centre.

But the river of money flowing through America’s tech mecca has also driven housing costs to double while wages for low- and middle-skilled workers are stagnant. Now the widening income gap between the wealthy and those left behind is sparking debate, anger and sporadic protests.

Some even with jobs get supplies from a food bank. Rants against the 1 per cent are spray-painted on buildings in wealthy towns. Security guards rally outside Apple Inc. demanding better wages with a banner that reads: “What’s the matter with Silicon Valley? Prosperity for some, poverty for many. That’s what.”

Here’s a bit from local media, specifically an Oakland Tribune reporter who writers for the Bay Area News Group, from February:

“The wage distribution gap is actually growing,” Hancock said. “We are losing our middle class in Silicon Valley.” …

In 2006, 21 percent of the households of Silicon Valley had yearly income levels of less than $35,000, 40 percent — the middle class — had income ranges from $35,000 to $99,000, and 39 percent had annual income levels of $100,000 or more.

By 2012 … 20 percent of households had incomes less than $35,000, 35 percent were in the $35,000 to $99,000 range, and 45 percent had incomes of $100,000 or more … .

High poverty? Let them eat microchips

So how do the liberal Democrats who control local politics across Silicon Valley propose to deal with this? By making the problem even worse. This is from a story in Sunday’s Mercury-News:

SAN JOSE — Hoping to preserve scenic parklands, wildlife habitat and farmland around Silicon Valley, the board of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority is scheduled to vote Thursday on placing a $24 per-parcel tax on the November ballot.

The tax, which would require a two-thirds majority for approval, would raise $120 million over the next 15 years to expand the agency’s network of open space preserves, currently located around Henry W. Coe State Park, Calero Reservoir and the hills east of San Jose.

“We need to pick up the pace of conservation in Silicon Valley,” said Andrea MacKenzie, general manager of the agency, which is based in San Jose.

Picking up “the pace of conservation” is code for blocking new construction and growth. Without new housing stock, Silicon Valley’s working class will remain impoverished or close to it by default. The main reason California has by far the highest poverty rate in the nation is the high cost of housing.

And now politicians in the Silicon Valley want to make that problem even worse. And the party they’re affiliated with claims to care about social justice.


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