A Modest Proposal for Silicon Valley Housing

A modest proposal to fix the Bay Area housing crunch: Fill in the southern part of San Francisco Bay with landfill and build a 21st-century city of earthquake resistant glass.

All of the land from the Dumbarton Bridge south could be converted from salt marshes and foul-smelling sludge to a glorious city of the future. That could solve the housing shortage and bring prices back to earth, simultaneously allowing Silicon Valley to expand and grow still more.

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley has the highest real estate prices in the US. The reasons are many, including high salaries, pleasant climate, beautiful geography, jobs — and a dire lack of houses.

Yes, Silicon Valley real estate prices are the highest in the nation for many reasons. And all of them could go away if governments just let developers build enough more, and limited the ability to existing property owners to block what other people can do on their own land.

Local communities exercise near veto rights over development near them, and city planners and developers find it difficult to win many small battles over tiny plots of land. Broad expanses of land abound in the ridge of hills and mountains between the bay and the ocean. But those are widely considered beautiful, and it’s near inconceivable that such stunning parkland will be developed anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the southern part of the bay is not generally considered beautiful. It’s filled with famously smelly salt marshes that serve the only modest ecological value. Their benefits could readily be offset with eco-friendly preservation somewhere else.

Even better, the water comes within walking distance of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and Tesla. It’s a prime location, much more so than San Francisco, so many miles further north, away from the high tech center of the Bay Area.

A new city, literally in the bay, would provide expansion area and take pressure off of housing prices. Better yet, an inchoate city would allow the vaunted technology visionaries of Silicon Valley to experiment in urban design, engineering the public transit, housing, and earthquake resistance of the future, supporting their own high tech economy and showing an example for the world.

And no human infants need be eaten or sold.

Why not? Please share your reasons.

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