While Cupertino has the most successful municipal economy in the world, a lack of new housing units — particularly affordable options that allow teachers, nurses and service sector workers to live near their workplaces — threatens quality of life for all residents, housing experts say.
Silicon Valley has added 150,000 jobs between 2010-2014 but only 36,000 new housing units have popped up during that time — less than 7-percent of which were affordable. Last week, experts participating in a housing panel organized by Cupertino City Council recommended embracing housing density, with the aim of incorporating affordable units that would help local schools and small businesses retain quality professionals.
It was the third of a four-panel Speaker Series focused on the region spurred by recent stalled development, such as The Hills at Vallco Mall.
“We have enough resources available to us to stabilize prices to make things a little bit better and we should do everything in our power to do that,” said panelist Matt Regan, the senior vice president of Public Policy for the Bay Area Council. “I don’t think we’re ever going to be the most affordable place in the world but I think we can do much better than we’re currently doing.”
Creating more housing would allow residents to work closer to their homes, which would eliminate traffic and encourage residents to walk, bike or take public transportation, said Matt Franklin, President of MidPen Housing.
However, panelists agreed there are barriers in the way of housing creation, including land scarcity, aging infrastructure, construction costs, traffic and a lack of overhead labor workers due to expensive living costs.
Moving forward, said Franklin, the city needs to “be engaged” to promote smart growth.
“It’s a matter of engaging with your city staff and being part of the process so that your values and your needs are incorporated into what happens in the community,” Franklin said.
The next panel will be held on Sept. 28, 2017 and will discuss transportation. It will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave. For more information on the Speaker Series and upcoming panels, visit www.Cupertino.org/speakerseries2017.