For Release Friday, April 12, 2013
Bill Dodge’s April 6 Citiwire article proposed that a “Bay Area Grand Bargain” will stimulate an important discussion about regional decision-making in my region. However, I disagree with a number of his premises. In the spirit of dialogue with a Citistates colleague, I outline them below.
First, what’s the best unit of analysis when focusing on this dynamic region? It’s true, Silicon Valley – my base – has a strong relationship to San Francisco based on a shared workforce, commute patterns and an increasingly integrated business community. This was not the case a decade ago, when technology industries tended to locate in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, while San Francisco was still dominated by headquarters of finance, professional and business service firms as well as culture and tourism. Silicon Valley and San Francisco have become more fully integrated, due to the explosive growth of social media firms and tightly linked commute patterns in both directions.
The traditional nine-county definition of the Bay Area used by regional agencies is less relevant today than when it was established in the 1960s. The East Bay, including Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is now developing its own economic identity around UC Berkeley and its national labs, the port of Oakland, the Tri Valley including Bishop Ranch, as well as the emerging Livermore Valley. Likewise, Napa and Sonoma counties are developing their own unique economic identify focused on world-class wine, tourism and experience industries.