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Silicon Valley vs. S.F.

It's like comparing apples to oranges. (Or would Apples to Androids make more sense?) At yesterday's Bisnow Future of Silicon Valley event at the Santa Clara Marriott, experts laid out the differences (and consequences of confusing them).

Orchard Partners managing partner Mike Biggar points out the number of jobs that have grown in S.F. since 2004 has doubled to 60,000. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley's got 220,000 jobs. That number has in no way doubled over the past decade (it's risen several percentage points a year), but S.F. is still a market that's a third the size of the Valley. We need to remember we are sitting in the innovation capital of the world, he says. Every car corporation has a presence here, as does Walmart (that's when you know you've made it). When BART stretches from S.F. to Milpitas as early as 2017, that 60-minute commute will have a positive effect on that corridor but it will take time. He expects to see more of a residential than office effect.

BNBuilders VP Nick Pera is all smiles because he's sitting right in the heart of his hometown. (We should've just held the event at his house.) He has some great projects near Apple's campus. The biggest risk on the contracting sideLabor and the availability of it. Also, there are many new regulations and requirements put on projects that create a different level of complexity. 

Hey, wasn't Kilroy Realty SVP of NorCal Mike Sanford on our SoMa panel last week? Clearly Kilroy is killing it all over the Bay Area, with a lot of Silicon Valley developments cooking, too (it's not all about S.F. and Salesforce). Kilroy has a 330k SF project in downtown Redwood City and a development in Sunnyvale for LinkedIn. He's mad it took him one hour and 15 minutes to drive to the panel from San Mateo (45 minutes to go three miles amidst Mountain View madness). Our infrastructure clearly can't support the density we want to have in Silicon Valley. He wonders how many Millennials will want to relocate from the city to Silicon Valley down the line.

The Sobrato Organization prez of real estate Rob Hollister agrees that traffic is scary right now. He says it's not about pitting the Valley against S.F., but rather looking at the two as urban vs. suburban. But in order for valley cities to thrive, it's got to have more of an urban and walkable environment. Of course, within Silicon Valley communities, there's little contributed funding going toward transit options tied to new projects. There's an incredible backlash when it comes to growth right now, he observes. (They should get a scrawny 12-year-old boy to give an impassioned pep talk about how much better things are when you're bigger.)

Allen Matkins partner Sonia Ransom, who moderated, hit the all-male cast with a surprise question that's usually reserved for the ladies: How do you have work-life balance? The answer seems to be the beauty of technology, which brought the convo full circle (if it weren't for Apple in Cupertino, we'd always be late for dinner with no notice).  

During San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's keynote, he mentioned a big program underway. As the largest city in Silicon Valley, San Jose is taking the lead on launching a much-needed regional economic initiative to make it easier for new entrants and developers to understand how the tech hub works (the concept is not reinventing the wheel; it's getting our own wheel, he says). Chuck's got six months and 18 days left in office and wants to use that to get more deals done, projects approved, and tenants in buildings to solidify our area as the capital of innovation. He's not slacking; he was in a city council meeting until 1:30am the night before.