Housing

An Attack is an Opportunity to Correct

No Comments
March 12  |  Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Attacks are often opportunities to correct, rather than cower.

A wonderful opportunity recently occurred from a somewhat surprising source: A column in the well-respected San Francisco Chronicle that referenced our 11th Annual CEO Survey. The columnist opined: “… that Silicon Valley somehow operates in a self-contained world of greatness, where it takes no responsibility for the very problems it complains about.”

What a head-scratcher.

Here’s what our nearly 400 member companies have done to address broad community issues.

On housing, the Leadership Group:

  • Created the nation’s most innovative Housing Trust Fund, which has raised nearly $70 million in voluntary contributions, leveraging $2 billion in private development, already assisting more than 10,000 families.
  • Was one of two Co-Chairs of the 2002 $2.1 billion statewide Housing Bond and the 2006 $2.85 billion statewide Housing Bond, which provided housing opportunities for more than 200,000 low income Californians.
  • Is currently convening major Silicon Valley stakeholders to determine what meaningful and measurable role we can play to help eradicate homelessness in Silicon Valley. Homelessness is not a “bottom-line business issue,” per se, but a moral imperative to help the most vulnerable in our Valley.

On traffic, the Leadership Group:

  • Has led, not just supported, four successive sales tax measures collectively contributing $10 billion for regional transportation improvements, including:
    • A 1984 measure to fund Highways 85, 101 and 237.
    • A 1996 measure to fund 19 key road and transit improvements, all delivered on-time and on-budget.
    • Measures in 2000 and 2008 to fund the Silicon Valley BART extension and major Caltrain improvements.
  • Currently, we are convening stakeholder meetings for a new traffic relief measure slated for the 2016 ballot.

When one considers that businesses in Silicon Valley pay more than 40 cents of every dollar in sales taxes collected, this investment in our communities are costs we cannot pass on as we compete globally.

On taxes, the Leadership Group has:

  • Supported more tax increase proposals than it has ever opposed, including measures we have championed for education parcel taxes and school bonds, housing, homelessness, transportation, open space, parks, flood protection, clean water and even general fund revenue for local governments.

Yes, attacks can be opportunities. My goal is not to attack back, but to dialogue rather than to give in to divisiveness. The Chronicle columnist would have known better had he picked up the phone before picking up his pen.

CEO Survey: Seeking Solutions

No Comments
March 5  |  Education, Federal Issues, Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If we want to increase employment, then let’s learn from employers.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group conducts a “CEO Business Climate Survey,” seeking direct input from the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive our region’s economy.

This year, 222 executives responded. The results are enlightening:

  • Last year, 2013, 62 percent added jobs in Silicon Valley, with only 9 percent subtracting jobs.
  • This year, 2014, 59 percent expect to add jobs here in Silicon Valley, with only 4 percent anticipating job losses.

Indeed, Silicon Valley continues to lead California and our country when it comes to job growth and economic recovery.

So what do employers, and our employees, need from policy makers to stay successful in innovation and job creation?

  • Locally, CEOs call for improvements on our local streets, roads and transit systems so that employees and their families can get around. We need quality schools for our children, and homes that working families can afford.
  • At the state level, we need meaningful investments in infrastructure to repair aging roads and ease traffic congestion. We need sensible solutions to the high cost of housing and investments in K-12 and higher education.
  • From Congress, we need immigration reform that ensures the best and the brightest can compete for our companies rather than against us, and tax reform that is fair to workers and keep our companies competitive.

This year’s CEO Business Climate Survey underscores that executives are willing to speak out, to search for solutions, to invest in answers. Silicon Valley’s innovation does not end within the walls of our companies, it extends through the neighborhoods in our communities.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

100 Percent

No Comments
February 19  |  Community, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Whether you are part of the “1 percent,” or the “99 percent,” why don’t we all focus on the “100 percent?”

For the past 17 years, it has been my pleasure to serve as CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group – a group of 385 progressive, proactive, problem-solving CEOs who focus on solutions to some of our region, state and nation’s most pressing problems. Perhaps it is simply the culture of our remarkable region, but we focus on issues that impact all of us – 100 percent:

  • Do homeless issues in San Jose and San Francisco, and every city in between, impact tech companies’ bottom-line? Not really. But from our vantage point, turning a blind eye to people in need is morally wrong; which is why working to help abate homelessness is a key goal in our work plan.
  • Does traffic congestion and a lack of transportation options effect our employers’ ability to recruit and retain top talent? Only tangentially, as other resilient regions like New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo have equally challenging traffic conditions. Yet we have led numerous successful efforts to provide traffic solutions; to bring BART to Silicon Valley, improve and electrify Caltrain, build Highways 85 and 237, and numerous other specific solutions. Yet, traffic is back, and so are our efforts for a new iteration of traffic solutions – to serve all of us – which will be our focus for the next three years.

Here’s a thought. If through hard-work, risk and an element of luck, you are part of the “1 percent,” never forget those who aren’t. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to help others.

If you are part of the hard-working “99 percent” of American citizens fighting each day to hold a job, pay for housing and feed your family, let’s count the blessings we do have, and continue to serve others with the time and treasure we can afford.

In Silicon Valley, let’s never allow sharp elbows to replace joined hands. Together – 100 percent – we can make positive change.

Tagged , , ,

Palo Alto Needs Affordable Homes for Seniors: Vote Yes on Measure D

No Comments
October 30  |  Housing  |   Carl Guardino

As CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I have spent countless evenings at City Council hearings across the valley to voice support for more homes near transit, jobs and services. It doesn’t matter what city I’m in, I often hear the same concerns.

This debate is currently underway in Palo Alto over Measure D, an affordable housing proposal for seniors on the Nov. 5 ballot. There, a nonprofit developer won approval to build 60 affordable apartments along with 12 single family homes.

The Council’s unanimous approval of the proposal reflects the understanding that affordable housing for seniors is sorely needed. Thanks to modern technology, people are living much longer and as a result, seniors will continue to make up a much greater share of our overall population. The proposal is close to El Camino Real and the types of transit and businesses that are needed by our aging population. In addition, the affordable housing proposal directs growth in an environmentally sustainable manner, building within our cities instead of suburban sprawl.

Palo Alto needs affordable homes for our senior citizens. Urge your friends and family in Palo Alto to vote yes on Measure D.

Tagged , , , ,

There’s No Place Like Home

No Comments
June 14  |  Housing  |   Carl Guardino

“There’s No Place Like Home.”

That phrase is more than just a great line from the film classic, The Wizard of Oz.

In Silicon Valley, it also reflects the enduring work of a quiet yet effective group of grassroots leaders called the Housing Action Coalition.

Last week, the Housing Action Coalition celebrated its 20th Anniversary of advocacy for well-built, appropriately located, affordable rental and for-sale homes for Silicon Valley workers and their families.

And what a 20 years it has been. Consider the numbers. In just 20 years, the Coalition has:

  • Endorsed 229 affordable home proposals.
  • Those thoughtful developments represent 65,059 new home opportunities.
  • 179 of those developments have been approved, built and occupied.
  • 27 more have been approved and are currently being built.
  • Less than 11 percent were rejected or dropped.

More than just homes, the Housing Action Coalition advocates for developments with nearby transit options, neighborhood services and safe communities.

Due to their efforts, tens of thousands of families can utter that famous phrase, “There’s No Place Like Home.”

To learn more about the Housing Action Coalition, visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group website at svlg.org.

Tagged , , ,

Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s 35th Anniversary

No Comments
July 11  |  Government Relations, Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought… Are you making your mark or simply marking time?

Thursday July 18, marks the 35th anniversary of when HP Co-founder David Packard created the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Today, 375 CEOs personally engage to strengthen the economic health and quality of life of our region, state and nation.

Through Packard’s vision, the impacts have been measurable:

* In the 1980s, the Leadership Group co-led Measure A, which built Highway 85 and improved 101 and 237.

* In the 1990s, the Leadership Group led Measures A and B, delivering 19 key road and rail improvements on-time and on-budget.

* In 2000 and 2008, the Leadership Group co-led sales tax measures to fund the capital construction and operations costs to bring BART to Silicon Valley.

* In 2000, the Leadership Group established the Housing Trust Fund, which has already helped 10,000 families secure homes in high-cost Silicon Valley.

* And most recently, the Leadership Group led the effort to secure a Regional Patent Office in Silicon Valley.

Can private citizens truly make a difference? As David Packard proved, we can – and we must – if our Valley will continue to drive the earth’s Innovation Economy.

 

Santa Clara County Housting Trust : Celebrating Success One Family at aTime

No Comments
April 11  |  Housing  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought – don’t be afraid to fail.

Recently, we celebrated the 13th anniversary of the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County. Created in the boom years of 1999, the Housing Trust was established to help first-time homebuyers, provide affordable rental homes, and – for our valley’s most vulnerable, assistance for the homeless.

Our ambitious goal was to raise $20 million in voluntary contributions, to leverage $200 million in private development, assisting as many as 5,000 families in this high-cost valley.

Well, those were not the numbers we achieved.  In fact, we exceeded them. To date, we’ve loaned out $45 million, leveraging $1.8 billion in private development, helping 9,369 families with safe, affordable, well-built homes.

When we launched the trust, a cynic stated that our efforts would be, quote, “The biggest failure in the history of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.” Yet in Silicon Valley, we are not afraid to fail. It is in our DNA to be bold in tackling even the toughest of challenges.

Undaunted, the Housing Trust was launched – and to date, nearly 10,000 families have been helped, and the voice of the cynics have been stilled.

To the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County and all its investors – we salute you.