Affordable housing takes center stage as Silicon Valley civic, business leaders gather to chart future

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The words "affordable housing" rolled out of the mouths of two Bay Area mayors, who took the stage today at one of Silicon Valley's largest events -- the annual luncheon of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which invited them to discuss innovation, diversity and public policy.

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The issue is critical to cities, employers, and workers because of a large deficit in housing to meet demand. Carl Guardino, the Leadership Group's CEO, says "We need about 200,000 more homes every year to meet demand in California. We're only producing 80,000 a year."

The president of Summerhill Homes Land, part of a company that has built over 5,000 homes in the Bay Area, says regulatory requirements and getting approvals can make new home projects challenging and expensive. "It makes it difficult to find the project where we can afford the time, the money and have the market to sell," says Joe Head. "So it's fewer and fewer sites that work for us."

RELATED: Number of Bay Area homes priced under $500,000 falling

However, if those hurdles can be overcome, and if there is a collective drive to address the housing shortage, Head believes a dent could be made in the deficit in five to seven years.

Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) said dense housing is needed to help workers locate near their jobs in Silicon Valley, but there may also be a need to re-think about the space needs of a changing work force and different generations. He suggested that some individuals might need only 300 to 500 square feet, and not a large lot with a single family home.

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