Tech driven gridlock: Silicon Valley’s painfully long workday commutes now worse than LA’s.

Leave it to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to outshine us in Southern California when it comes to commutes.  San Francisco has already shown us how certifiably insane real estate prices can go.  Now we find out that Silicon Valley and the Bay Area have a higher percentage of commuters stuck in what we call mega commutes compared to the Satan inspired roadways of SoCal.  A mega commute is cutely described as one that takes you 90 minutes or more each way to complete.  First of all, we already have an army of people that take mega commutes from the Inland Empire into LA and OC all for the sake of owning a piece of real estate in what essentially is a hot desert.  Even if this means sitting for unhealthy lengths of time clutching a steering wheel or starring at the tail pipe of cars for hours on end.  Humans are not meant for this.  We didn’t evolve to sit in nice leather seats in a BMW moving along at an average rate of 5 MPH.  Hence the number of road rage incidents are now up along with YouTube views.  Frankly, driving up in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley I see little difference in traffic congestion.  This is one award that you probably don’t aspire to have.

Silicon Valley and mind numbing commutes

While the report is largely looking at commuting times it is hard to disconnect the underlying cause of all of this.  Ridiculously overpriced real estate and hardcore NIMBYism.  Now I know there are many gut busting Taco Tuesday fans of mega commutes since they enjoy being stuck in traffic just so they can say they own a home.  Who cares about the long-term impacts of sitting in a box for hours, just to go to work in a box, to type away on a box, and finally to get back into the box to go to your box (aka crap shack).

If you look at the rise in these mega commutes in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley it shot up in 2010:


Something fundamentally shifted here.  Of course you have your house humpers saying that this is great and somehow reflects a healthy market but in reality, it simply shows a hyper manic market of people desperate to claw into a crap shack.  And many are now having to endure Clockwork Orange like torture in traffic.  Many Millennials are simply saying no and are renting closer to work (or living at home with parents).

This is a big problem and many of you already know this.  It is amusing that some local cities in LA and OC have traffic as their central or one of their central campaign issues.  Given the rhetoric of this election you can see how ridiculous it must seem for some cities to be focused merely on traffic as their main subject.  But of course, many of these areas are completely oblivious to what is going on around the nation, let alone the world so it makes complete sense that residents are obsessed with the candidate that will shave off a minute or two on their local morning commute into their industrial cubicles.  The candidate that can get you to your Starbucks coffee quicker is the winner!

Here is the daily fun that many people endure:


For those in LA you know how bad traffic can be.  Even driving within the city is nuts.  Just try taking main streets in Culver City, Pasadena, or Santa Monica and you’ll see that people are already trying to find alternate routes beyond the freeways that run directly into residential neighborhoods.  And yes, it is bad for you beyond the psychological pain:

“(Science Daily) Pollution levels inside cars were found to be up to 40% higher while in traffic jams or at a red traffic light compared to free-flowing traffic conditions, new research indicates. The World Health Organization has placed outdoor air pollution among the top ten health risks faced by humans, linking with seven million premature deaths a year.”

All for owning a crap shack or for living within the halo of this housing situation.  It is so interesting to once again see the “drive until you qualify” meme permeating the housing industry.  People seem to think this is now a new permanent plateau, a new normal, yet ignore the low home ownership rate and the reality that momentum is turning.  But of course many are not paying attention – they are stuck in traffic apparently.  Mega commutes, rental Armageddon, and insane prices for crap shacks are all part of the game today.

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138 Responses to “Tech driven gridlock: Silicon Valley’s painfully long workday commutes now worse than LA’s.”

  • Been there and not doing it again. We used to live in Phoenix and our commutes into work were 45 mins to 1 hour, each way. Five days a week for many, many years. Lots of wear and tear on the vehicle and on the driver, me.

    So, when we moved to San Diego, we decided to rent as close to the office as possible and within financial sense. We found a house that’s under 20 mins commute each way. It feels very nice to have more time in the day that’s not spent wasted sitting in the car in heavy traffic. More time for walks. More time for video games. More time to relax and enjoy living in San Diego.

    We may decide to purchase a home, someday. But not at today’s insane prices. If and when rent/buy ratios flip around, we’re going to keep renting and saving time and money.

    • “Drive until you qualify”is the factor here. A better term is “pricing out”. The higher that house prices go relative to incomes, the more that households are sorted by “ability to pay for location”, with efficiency of choice relative to work and other regular destinations, swamped.

      This is the main reason why the UK’s cities are 4 to 10 times more compact that US cities and yet their average commute times are up to 50% LONGER, which is a classic example of an “unintended consequence” of central planning. The Planners of course assume that forcing a city to be more compact, with strict rationing of supply of land for growth, will “reduce commuting distances”.

      Hong Kong is the densest city in “developed world” data and yet its average commute is the most monstrously long. It is a myth that people crammed into apartments, merrily ride the elevator down every morning and stroll along the street for a couple of minutes to catch another elevator up to their job. The property market is so dysfunctional that people take whatever “housing” they can get and regard themselves lucky if they don’t have to commute in 90 minutes + each way from Shenzhen.

      In Phoenix, this effect would not be anywhere near this bad, but there will always be some proportion of the population being hardest-hit by this factor as long as house price median multiples are well above an systemically affordable “three”.

      • I was just in Hong Kong last week for work. And it was quite sad seeing people lined up for the bus stops outside the office towers at 7pm and 8pm at night – waiting for their bus rides out into the far reaches of Hong Kong. My colleague (who was a resident in HK) told me that the bus rides can be 1 – 2 hours home. Imagine getting off work at 630pm catching a 7pm bus and getting home at 8pm – 9pm….every weekday.

      • alex in San Jose

        QE – that’s like, on the island of Oahu, people who live in Waihiawa or Waipahu and who work in “town” (downtown Honolulu) or, people who live in Hawaii Kai and work on the far side of downtown or in Pearl City. In fact, when I lived near the University Of Hawaii and worked at Pearl Harbor, it was 1-1.5 hour each way and I had a bus stop right at the end of the driveway.

      • Despite the long commute of a minor percent of HKers, they are remarkably happy and healthy. Don’t condemn their life when you are not part of it. Also, the residents of HK live longer than almost anybody, even with their congestion, bad air , traffic, and high cost of living. Their women live longer than almost anybody and the men run a close second to Japanese men for longevity.
        What constitutes quality of life for some people does not translate for others.
        Hong Kong is my favorite city in the world.

    • alex in San Jose

      I was born in S. California, grew up in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, the only place I’ve seen that actually idolizes S. California, and moved back to S. California just in time for the go-go 80’s so I know a little something about traffic. And the worst traffic I’ve been in, anywhere, in my life, was in Phoenix, Arizona. You can spend hours on end trying to get literally a few miles. There have been times I’ve seriously wondered if I should pull onto the shoulder and just sleep overnight in my car, and try getting home in the morning. There have certainly been times – when possible – I’ve escaped the gridlock and spent an hour or three in some coffee shop or obscure cafe’ rather than burn gallons of gas to travel a mile or so.

      • Try out traffic in the Washington DC area on a Friday afternoon during rush hour. I thought LA and Chicago were bad.

    • Now that Obama is finally gone (thank God) the gridlock caused on roads and freeways during his ‘visits’ will stop.

  • The bay area is worse than LA because we have far fewer freeways. If there is ONE accident, you’re screwed because there are no other roads to take in some cases.

    • And yet many voters have come to accept a lie from the anti-roads activists, that “induced traffic” means that congestion will be worse if you build more highways, and better if you build less. There is actually no data to support this. In fact you could easily prove that money spent on Transit instead, correlates with worsened congestion. The reality is that Transit subsidies devote most of the dollar to actually moving riders around. It can easily cost 30 cents per person-mile of travel enabled. But once you have spent your budget on a road, it is there forever and travel enabled falls in cost per person-mile, to converge on a fraction of 1 cent.

      Public subsidies do not pay for anyone’s car or gas or insurance or repairs, but Transit subsidies pay for all these things, i.e. the transit vehicle, the energy used, the system maintenance and capital costs, etc etc.

    • Also, (and unlike LA), a huge problem lies in the Bay Area’s geography itself: its basically a large cluster of different cities (SF, Oakland, San Jose) all built around a giant body of water and hemmed in by mountains. All of these cities are then interconnected by various bridges, tunnels and train systems- all of which can become intense “choke points” if any one thing goes wrong: an accident, malfunction etc… Indeed, there is no alternative if the one bridge that takes you home has an overturned truck on it.

  • Here in LA, LA, LAnd the evening rush hour on the 10FWY (going eastbound from Santa Monica to DTLA) starts at about 230pm and goes until 8pm, sometimes 830pm!

    On another note, the drive from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills (on surface streets) takes 45min – 1 hour during rush hour. That is a distance of about 5 miles.

    • For anything less than a 5 mile commute, people should consider riding a bicycle. If they aren’t in the best shape or don’t want to wear neoprene / arrive all sweaty, then an electric bicycle would probably be the way to go. They’re lots of fun;

      • alex in San Jose

        Riding a bike makes eminent sense, but it also amounts to admitting defeat. *Communists* ride bicycles. Having a car, having illegal immigrants manicure your lawn and raise your children, and $8 artisan toast may not be written into the California state constitution but they might as well be.

      • Why would you need to wear neoprene or arrive sweaty for a 5 mile commute?

        You can still beat the traffic at a leisurely pace and burn calories.

        I have had that commute before with no shower at work LOL…. I had to do that at a non-sweat non-neoprene pace

        I agree anyone less than 8 miles should think about riding a bike to work provided the roads are safe.

      • @NoTankinSight,

        Apparently you have never biked over freeway overpasses, or up hillsides in 90+ degree temperature to get to and from work. I miss my old commute in Anchorage, when the scenic route was about 5 miles, but it was only about 60 degrees throughout the day-

    • Absolutely! If you have some creative driving skills it can help but this man or woman speaks the truth. The 405 is basically a wall between Santa Monica and the rest of the city.

      I have a co-worker who lives by me (no i would never carpool with this douche) he says he gets home in 40 minutes (Cloverfield blvd in SM to Hollywood). He either has a jetpack or is just a perpetual liar, it takes me 1 hour and 10 minutes, i just end up working late so i don’t have to deal with the stress.

  • The problem is open borders. We are prisoners in our own neighborhood due to congestion. Vote for Trump. Build a wall

  • We definitely need a half dozen or so large Tech companies to fold. That should kill two birds with one stone, real estate prices and long commutes.

    • What we really need is less IT companies hoarding in one area. There is a lot of places they could build but refuse to do so or maybe the County/City provide good tax incentive reasons and maybe short commutes for the CEO’s?
      Problem over time if the area does not slow down it may very well just have workers work from home or telecommute. The commute is very inefficient in the long run due to the fact that everyone has to do the same thing. In and out won’t stop based on our work models. I can’t foresee this going much further.

    • They can take their H-1 Visa workers with them. Tech companies need to go back to Asia with their H-1 Visa workers and undocumented workers.

  • I live in the Bay Area, my wife and I take BART, our regional subway/train service that at least is a step-up from LA’s public transit. Still, the daily commute is an absurd grind. We at least live close to our jobs, but for most poor souls, Bart is packed like a sardine can. People stand for an hour, crammed-in under some stranger’s armpit and listen to the tracks screech and howl before they finally scramble out at their destination just to sit in a cubicle clicking the enter key all day long. Ah- Modern Life.

    Honestly, I can’t say which I prefer the least- grinding my teeth in a snarled traffic jam, or taking 1970’s era public transport that is woefully overcrowded beyond its operational capacity. Traffic here is now 24/7: you can get stuck in it at any hour of the day (or night)- any day of the week.

    On the weekends, we try just to stay within the city where we live. At least there are good ethnic eateries, a lake and hiking trails within the immediate vicinity. Venturing beyond city limits on a freeway to visit family or friends I basically dread; even a relatively short (in terms of distance) weekend journey becomes a blood-boiling foray into “Death Race 2000”. Please don’t move here…

    • There it is, the reality: so many things to do in CA, except people don’t who actually live and work there.

      Did it for years, planning my shopping trips around traffic and crowd problems, and actually doing anything that CA offered, beach, concerts, a trip to the LA Auto Show, maybe a movie at the Chinese, was fraught with dread at the reality of actually getting there.

      • I have never forgotten a beautiful one-liner quoted in a magazine article on people leaving expensive, congested cities. A guy who had moved to Oklahoma City said “there’s less to do here, yeah, but now we have the time and can afford to do it”.

      • alex in San Jose

        All the great things to do in California major cities make them great for the idle rich, but I agree. 99% of the people here can’t afford to take time away from work and commuting and just surviving, to do them.

      • Phil you made me LOL. How true it is. Sad too because I was an actual born in Kali native.

        We love each other but just can’t live together.

      • Owned a home in L.A. until 2014, but didn’t live there for a long time. Last time I spent time there, tried to go see some sights … couldn’t get near the places we went, too many people and/or no parking! And, my favorite places along the coast from my younger days as a surfer … well anyone who’s spent time in So. Cal. knows how overflowing those beach communities can get on a decent weekend, and how hard it is to find a parking spot! Fortunately, I have more than made up for my water fix. I have a home that is 5 minutes from a huge lake that is surrounded by spectacular mountains, and I keep my boat in the water all summer. Lot’s of leisurely afternoons spent fishing and towing the tube around! And when I’m not in the boat, I’m hiking or enjoying all the wildlife that wanders across my property almost daily! Certainly better than sitting in traffic for 2 hours each day, only to sit in a cubicle for another 8 + hours!

    • Yes, and don’t come to Sacramento either. The freeways on Sundays is horrible due to bay area weekend commuters trying to take trips to the mountains. Trying to get to the bay area on a Sunday is madness with a possible 4 hour commute to the city. I would rather stay in my area too.

    • alex in San Jose

      Traffic here is indeed insane, and this is with BART, CalTrain, VTA, companies giving free transit passes to employees who want them, a lot more bicycles than I’ve seen anywhere else, and car ownership declining.

  • I did that for many years in SoCal. One day I said enough is enough and I voted for better quality of life in flyover country. In SoCal you might find a job easier but the extra pay does not justify the pain and ruined health. You earn more and pay more in taxes. Whatever else is left you pay for ever increasing car prices who are ruined really fast. Then you pay more in car maintenance and fuel – it is not cheap/economical to drive bumper to bumper. And you pay all that extra after the massive taxes from both the federal and state.

    Moving away was the best decision I ever made. Financially I am better off, the quality of life went up, no stress and I “commute” for 5 minutes at the most.

    • The same, Flyover. My final job took eight minutes from the time I clocked out to my shack in the desert.

      Now I’ll find an excuse to drive a bit for essentials just to get out and see the wide open spaces since I don’t put that many miles on my cars any longer.

      • I forgot to mention that on top of the CA massive taxation, people pay $200,000 downpayment if they want the “Privilege” of having a millstone (debt of about $800,000) hanged around their neck if they want to live in an area where bullets are not flying through the house.

        I chose not to partake in that “privilege” and I moved out in order to increase my standard of living.

      • alex in San Jose

        Flyover – I agree, if anyone can weasel some way to exist in flyover country without having to live in a hole in the ground and beg or collect cans, live on road kill for a living, then go for it. There are no jobs here in the Bay area, and *really* no jobs in flyover country, so it will take something like being retired, having some way to make money that’s location-independent, or being willing to become homeless.

        However, if say, myself, on $12k a year, can save up say 5 grand, and I can buy a piece of land in flyover country, then I’ve got a place to live. If there’s water nearby I can take buckets to, there’s water, or if I can dig a well, then that’s water solved. If it’s farm-able or there’s good foraging and hunting and gathering, then that’s another big piece of existing. If I can do the kind of work no one else wants to do such as cleaning bathrooms, yardwork, cleaning up after pets, etc., then a kind of life can be made, even in flyover country.

        It would amount to the difference between becoming, if from the very bottom of the bottom, part of a community or being homeless anyway, here in California, and being stabbed to death for your old flip phone.

        If I thought I could make the same $12k a year in flyover-land that I do here, I’d really look at it.

      • “no jobs”???? Unemployment in my city here in MT dropped from 2.5% to 2.2% last month. But keep on keeping on…

      • I guess it’s all about choice. I live in Irvine, CA and my commute is less than 2 miles. I usually bike it, unless it’s too windy or hot out, since it takes about 10 minutes either way. When I want to go to the beach, it’s less than 10 miles away, and normally takes less than 30 minutes to park in the city (free) parking lot and walk a few blocks to get to and cross the PCH and put my toes in the water

      • Alex, did it ever occur to you that your biggest enemy in life is your way of thinking?

      • alex in San Jose

        Flyover – all you do is complain. I went on about flyover country being extremely do-able if you can (a) get work that’s location-independent, such as making and selling stuff on Ebay or Etsy, doing phone bank type work, etc. Or (b) marrying into the family that has *the* Shoney’s restaurant then maybe you can be fry cook.

        It’s very very possible because you can buy land under $10k and build the house, or buy an old place, etc. Very very cheap. The thing is, again, you have to have some sort of little feeder line to tap into the far-away money river that flows through the cities, or you have to find your part of the tiny local money-stream. Trust me, when I lived in flyover country, I saw deals for being a janitor that looked really sweet – but I was 20 miles away with no car, so where I was, I was pretty much stuck at $5 a month or so unless I went into the nearest small town where I might make $60 on a weekend, or if more local, if I “flew a sign” or otherwise flim-flammed tourists passing through.

        I have been very positive about flyover country and not mentioned that: There’s just that one Shoney’s. Marry into that family or hunt jackrabbits for a living. There ain’t a whole lot of meat on a jackrabbit. Culturally, you can listen to a few different right-wing ranters on AM radio, the local venues have both country *and* western music, and there are plenty of churches in which to pray for the death of the unbelievers. If it’s a “speaking in tongues” type church, a good Cornholio impression would really bowl ’em over. And there are activities for kids: A friend of mine with kids in Gilbert, AZ high schools had a neat-o Nazi club. It was about … history and stuff. Did you know Hugo Boss designed their uniforms? So they were learning fashion sense. It was run by one of the HS teachers as an afterschool program so they do care about the kidlets. And with today’s interest in genealogy, you can always find a flyover town with long-lost relatives, all those kissin’ cousin, whoo’ee.

    • Amen, made the same move out of San Diego 10 years ago and my life is soooo much better. More free time, better health (clean air, water, ocean make a huge difference), lower taxes, lower rental costs, and salary is same or better than I made or would make if I went back. If there was an accident I could spend 2 hours commuting 1 way, and forget about it the day before a holiday or 3 day weekend! It got to the point where I passed on doing a lot of stuff because the traffic would add 2-4 hours. Dreaded driving north through LA to visit family – so depressing! Decentralization and deflation are what this country needs! Build a wall, enforce the laws, enact term limits and end the DC lobby gravy train and watch this country come back to life! Every so called fix the corrupt pols offer seems to just be a scam to enrich themselves -through kickbacks from unions and increased taxes but nothing EVER gets better! I was in SoCal in June, driving around was like a video game of demolition derby.

    • Hey Flyover, thanks for giving your opinions and I am seriously considering to do what you did. Which state did you move to and would you have any advice? I moved to LA about 12 years ago from the Midwest and make a pretty decent income but honestly I don’t think it’s been a net gain for me when I consider all of the costs that aren’t necessarily easy to put a dollar sign on. I know I’d be giving up some things but they aren’t worth the crowding and high cost of living. There have been some fun times but at a certain point quality of life became a higher priority. I keep seeing license plates from out of state people that I guess recently moved in and think hey you can have it because it’s just way too crowded and a total slog for the most part.

      Is there anything in particular that you miss about Socal?

      • I moved out 20 years ago and never looked back. I still suffer for few weeks every year when I go to SoCal to visit family and friends.

        I like the look of Eastern WA, North ID and North Carolina. In N. Carolina I don’t like the humidity too much. I prefer drier climate but not very hot like AZ. Depends on your preference. As cities, I like Coeur D’Alene and Sandpoint (ID), Richland and Walla Walla (WA). For jobs, Richland would have the most jobs. The Richland (Tricities) area is the fastest growing in the nation – I think it offers better job prospects than most cities in CA, for a fraction of the CA housing cost (with what you pay the downpayment in CA, you pay off a house). Since I have my own business, I like more Sandpoint, Coeur D’Alene and Walla Walla.

        All these areas have very mild winters comparative to Midwest.

      • After moving from the midwest to LA in 1999, we moved up to Portland a couple of years ago. It’s fantastic. You can still drive anywhere in 5-15 minutes (except for rush hour,) and there’s so much to do both in the city and in nature compared to other mid-sized cities. Of course, we love it so much, I don’t even want to tell others how great it is, because people are already moving up here frequently.

    • That’s why you lease a car. All that nasty wear and tear while your car is sitting in traffic NOT adding miles to your car. Not to mention it is rather affordable. If you choose to make a long trip rent a car or you can even choose how many miles your lease will include.

    • Actually, a smart person doesn’t need to take even less pay in flyover country! You just need an in-high-demand skill, likely in tech, that allows you to work from home. My Daughter and Husband left the crowded city, made a killing on their home, moved to the inland northwest to a location of jaw-dropping scenery and outdoors recreation, built a home with a to-die-for view, all for way less that a crap shack in L.A. or the Bay area would cost. They’e got all the modern conveniences 20 minutes away, and have an ideal environment for raising our Granddaughter with uncrowded schools and a family environment. My Son-in-Law works out of the house and my Daughter has a short commute that is made much more ideal by her drive along a lake with mountains in the background … not sitting in traffic! The only problem is, don’t bring your liberal agenda’s with you … people there hunt, fish, carry guns, don’t like free-loaders, and think the traditional value of family are fine!

      • JNS,

        You are right on that one. Moving from a big city to a smaller town forced me to open my own business and my income increased threefold while the cost of living was cut in half.

        I was talking about averages not individual cases.

  • Last week I left century city at 5:30 PM and it took me 90 minutes to travel 14 miles. No accidents, nothing special that i could see. (except the poor planning of that many cars having to stop at a railroad crossing for the the expo line) There’s way too many people on the streets of LA.
    Like the political and financial system, Los Angeles needs one giant enema. We’ll see what the next great recession does to Los Angeles.

    • Um – too late. Massive illegal immigration has ruined state, and SoCal in particular, forever.

      • I hope that Trump deports them so I can get a parking space and the freeway traffic will go faster. I wish him Godspeed.

      • alex in San Jose

        Ira – a good old economic crash will take care of all of that and we’re about due for another one.

      • @Alex

        Blasphemy! Trump’s corporate deregulation policies will disrupt the economic cycle and keep the current economic expansion going…or at least real estate prices will magically continue to go up.

  • Out here in the Silicon Valley the Traffic is horrendous right now. The Worst EVER. Way worst that the previous peaks in 2000 and 2005-07. An They keep adding new buildings along the way… keep in mind that these new 5-6 story office buildings are not even leased or finished yet.

    One can only hope that by the time all these buildings are good to go. The App and social media bubble has burst. This bust can come soon enough.

    I have to keep saving so I can leave this forsaken place.

  • Yes many localS in SCA. are tired of the traffic that starts earlier and earlier every year and are taking the HOUSING loot and running away to other warmer climes.
    CA. is not the only place with sunny days. Places in are town have housing at 1/2 the price or less.

  • Life is too short to spend it being miserable.

  • It is considered normal in southern California. I’ve avoided long commutes by changing jobs, but there are a lot of people who just commute because they think they have to pay for the expensive house, expensive furniture, expensive vacations and flashy car (probably around $500 a month for the payment). They are slaves to own the stuff that they don’t even own…mortgage, car payments, etc.

  • i rarely come here anymore, it’s too depressing and my career is depressing enough.

  • Portland and Seattle are just as bad.

    • The correlation is startling – cities tip libbewwal-lefty, trendy, “creative”, and go in for “smart growth” and environmental conscience; and their property prices blow out and so does their congestion.

    • Just as bad as LA??? We moved up to Portland from LA a couple of years ago, and Portland feels like a ghost town compared to LA.

      • No way, traffic in Portland for sure rivals LA now. Those damn bridges are always in accident mode and you’ll end up sitting in them for hours like clock work. I was there for 2 weeks and at least half that time was major traffic. Highly overrated imo.

    • Just moved to Portland from Irvine a little over a year ago. Bought a house at half Irvine prices in one the best school districts. Great so far. Except maybe the weather and extra flight connections when traveling from PDX (vs LAX). Admittedly, still miss the OC sunshine and proximity to family from time to time. But rt flights to LAX can be had for $100 so long weekend visits are cheap and easy.

  • I was a territory salesman for 27 years in and around SillyCon Valley / Grey Area. In the car, in traffic, every F-ing day. It sucked. I’m sure it shortened my Type A personality life by years. Paid MY f-ing traffic dues, never mind the scars…

    I bought rental homes. They pay my salary now. I try not to leave-the-house, or even answer the phone during the day. I’ve plotted my escape from this Bay Area hell hole / horror show and am work’in that, in the meantime

    My question is: WTF is a “Taco Tuesday” Boomer – your definition, please. This will help decipher your columns.

    Thank you and the commentors. Enjoy the Posts. Be Careful out there.

  • It is a wonderful day in The City, seeing people visibly shaken. Maybe sanity will prevail now. Probably not, every body can now grow 6 plants of Mary Jane. Interesting times.

  • Never mind.

    Enjoy your commute and don’t forget to pay rent.

    Adios. Sayonara, au revoir and Good Bye.

  • WHat does a Trump presidency mean for RE? If I had to speculate, it’s a safe bet that interest and mortgage rates will rise faster then expected. Deregulating big business and wall street will most likely bring about a new era of sub-prime lending. With foreign currencies declining, it’s possible foreigners sell US assets to cover losses at home increasing inventory and maybe a small correction early next year. Just my 2 cents.

    • Higher interest rates, yeah housing stops going up. Getting rid of Dodd-Frank makes some loans easier but putting in Glass-Stegall again means harder for saving and Loans and Bank mergers. Probably will go down 100,000 in LA and OC, yeah.

  • we live in a big country…look around. I’ve lived in LA, NYC, and moved to Bend, OR. from LA 10 yrs ago. Here our long commute is 15-20 minutes, the water is the best in the country, tech is moving in, albeit slowly. I can’t imagine why more tech companies just don’t move here. FB, AAPL have large data centers, there are a dozen or so software companies, 80,000 people..still a great secret for now.

    • Bend isn’t a secret. It’s where all Oregonians buy their vacation home.

      It’s not a secret from SoCal either…. it was the TRENDY place to move back in 2004-07… when Portland and Austin were just “so over” … the hipsters all moved in then the local economy (or lack thereof) TANKED, housing prices dropped by 50-80% and those poor coffee-maker-bike-shop hipsters were too broke to afford the bus fare outta town.

      The new Boulder, Bend is not.

  • I actually like a long commute. I wind down from work, listen to the BBC, CNN or dozens of other satellite channels in my car. Then I’m nice and relaxed when I get home. Not everyone, upon leaving work, wants to end up home in twenty minutes.

    • Nobody believes that.

    • Sounds like this is a win win for you. You can sit in your car for 3 to 4 hours per day and inhale freeway fumes and asbestos particles. Then you have the bonus of buying a big, cheap house out in the hinterlands. I salute you! 🙂

  • son of a landlord

    One reason for worsening congestion in L.A. is bike lanes. Not that bicyclists stay in them. But it does encourage them to ride.

    I despise bicyclists. They’ve infested Santa Monica like lice. They’re everywhere. They obey no traffics laws. Speeding through red lights and Stop signs. Driving out of alleys and across streets, right in front of your car, zipping from one alley to another. Riding on sidewalks. Righting side by side, outside the bike lane, passive-aggressively holding up traffic.

    Cars normally wait their turn at a Stop sign. Cyclists ignore Stop signs — and they expect to you to know it. They expect you to wait until they zip through their Stop sign. They’re cyclists, dammit, the most morally supreme people on Earth.

    I’d ban bicycles entirely.

    • Bicyclists must obey ALL rules cars do. That INCLUDES stopping at stop signs. However, the majority of them feel they do not have to obey this rule. Yes it is more work to stop but that is why you have GEARS on your bike.

      Santa Monica is infested with them and some of them decide to go places where “legally” they can but it will probably cause an accident if they do. Also a cross-walk is for PEDESTRIANS not bikes. I can’t imagine the lifespan of a bicycle rider is very long..

    • funny you mention that because I would ban cars if I could. And I’m not even a cyclist. I’d start with downtown areas of beach cities and we could go from there.

      • alex in San Jose

        I hate cars, and like hitting the “WALK” buttons etc to make things harder for ’em – sure I could dash across instead of using the signal, but anything to make things harder for the lazy fatasses in their steel coffins …

        Most trips are quite short. People are paying for gym memberships then not going, and when they do ride the Lifecycle “bike to nowhere”.

        The problem is, as we all know, You Are What You Drive and riding a bike means you’re a loser unless you’re riding a $2000 racy bike and lots of Lycra and Spandex. Not carrying any baggage or doing anything *shudder* utilitarian on the thing – back in the day on group rides, lots of people didn’t even carry a tool/patch kit. Some schlub like me would save the day …

        And if you’re jealous of bicyclists for going through a red light on the closed side of a T intersection, hopping up on the sidewalk to avoid big puddles or fresh asphalt, of any of a number of other things, you can always get a bike and join us.

    • Well Said! I can’t stand bikers either.

    • I bike all the time, and I assume every motorist is trying to kill me. I switch between operating as a motorist in the bike and turn lanes, to the side-walk when it suits me. I run stop signs and red lights all the time, but only if I can see there aren’t any cars coming, or have waved to the one car approaching a 4 way stop before I run it.

      that being said, the only time I was hit by a car, I was on foot in the cross walk, with the walk signal blinking. I will tell you one thing, I wouldn’t mess w/ a cyclist. They are usually amped on endorphins and some carry pretty big metal tools on them

      • son of a landlord

        Jon: I run stop signs and red lights all the time, but only if I can see there aren’t any cars coming,

        And why do you feel entitled to break the law on a regular basis, dozens, perhaps 100s, of times a day? What makes you such a special snowflake?

      • alex in San Jose

        There are quite a few studies showing J-walking to be safer than using crosswalks, signaled or not.

        But then I live on The Street Of The Future(tm) which at any given time may have cars, trucks, “Mad Max” homeless bike-trailer combos loaded with something like an old fridge, the odd forklift, a friggin’ freight train going down the tracks that are in the street, and people walking, from zoned-out bums to a nice family walking to the flooring store across the street from the one they parked their new SUV in front of.

      • Anyone that stops for what should be a yield sign, does it because they are afraid of getting a ticket, and having their insurance premiums go up. They don’t stop for some sense of moral code, or civic duty. If that were the case, people wouldn’t drive the way they do on the freeway, constantly weaving in and out of traffic and cutting each other off, or riding the bumper of the car in front of them.

        Do you stop at a stop sign for a full two seconds when you are on foot, and have already looked both ways while approaching it? Then why is it different on a bicycle.

      • Bikers are often their own worst enemy. They need to understand their place in the food chain. I love to bike, but I dont do it anywhere near traffic if I can avoid it – and I almost always can. That said, I would like the really congested parts of big cities maybe shut off a lane here and there where possible for bikes, segways and other similar stuff. The remaining open lane(s) would be for deliveries, commuter vehicles, etc.

        Me, I just want to be as far away from the big cities as possible, but I think the above might help to make things better for the people who like cities or who are stuck in them.

    • we got to leave Cali, any suggestions(I have $1mil)?

      • Try Pacific NW but stay away from big cities like Portland or Seattle if you can. They are as crowded as SoCal with heavy traffic and bad commutes.

        Also, personally I don’t like the coast where it rains for most of the year. It is nice and dry over the mountains.

  • I solved that nasty commute-to-work problem. I retired. Work sucks.

  • So now that the election is over…

    what is the new story line for why house prices aren’t crashing???

    this is the time of year when sales volume and prices always tick down for the holiday season.

    • my guess is Trump (with his love of money and Wall Street) will appeal to his banker friends and juice the market with deregulation and low interest rates. Ergo, home prices will continue to rise through easier lending practices…

      • Businessmen prefer to buy low and sell high. With prices already high, the risks don’t justify the investment. Clinton criticized (unjustly) Trump for recognizing a buying opportunity during the last downturn during the campaign.

        To his credit, Trump rightly stated that ultra low rates have created a “false economy” and “at some point the rates are going to have to change.” Bank stocks are rallying on the prospects of higher, not lower, rates.

      • @QE Abyss

        Agreed. This will be a new era of big business. Expect to see reduced lending standards as interest & mortgage rates increase. Easy loans will keep the housing bubble afloat.

      • “@QE Abyss

        Agreed. This will be a new era of big business. Expect to see reduced lending standards as interest & mortgage rates increase. Easy loans will keep the housing bubble afloat.”

        Issuing more subprime loans if and when existing mortgages go bad isn’t smart business. Lending standards became stricter, not looser, when interest rates went up during the last downturn (under a Republican administration). And if Freddie and Fannie are set free from government conservatorship like a prominent Trump backer wants it to be, who’s going to buy up all the bank mortgages given the higher risks?

      • Hotel California

        It sure is some interesting sort of optimism which supposes Trump would look to reward the areas that voted against him and also happen to be the biggest beneficiaries of the low rates.

      • @ Prince of Heck

        If I remember correctly the sub-prime and Ninja loans came out when rates were around 6% and home prices had peaked. And no one said it was good business, but history has a way of repeating itself.

      • “If I remember correctly the sub-prime and Ninja loans came out when rates were around 6% and home prices had peaked. And no one said it was good business, but history has a way of repeating itself.”

        Subprime lending doubled from 2001 to 2006 — well before rates hit 6% and prices peaked in 2007. Sure, subprime lending continued to be high through 2007. But troubles showed up in 2005, and many financial firms began reducing their exposure to subprime in 2006. The horses had already been let out of the barn and took a while to corral.

    • I dub thee King Red Herring.

    • I am thinking its the same reason bank stocks are soaring. They all expect deregulation. Most home prices, especially on the higher end are inexorably linked to the financial markets.

  • son of a landlord

    For all those touting Oregon … the Pacific Northwest is ripe for a major earthquake. While SoCal’s next Big One is estimated to be at around 7.8, Seattle and Portland are facing a quake of at least a 9.0.

  • First off, adding trains does not fix traffic. Traffic is a marketplace. If you add a train and lets say it decreases traffic by 10%.. People will travel 10% long or make 10% more trips. I grew up in Green Bay where there is more cement than houses (in a square mile basis). It is a town of 250,000 an they have 6 lane highways.. We would all make tons of trips, forget the eggs? Go drive to the store. Need to get liquor? Go drive to the store. We would constantly be making trips. We did not plan for anything.

    Then I moved to Milwaukee. I started planning trips more efficiently. If I am on my way home from work I would stop at the stores I needed to.

    Then I moved to Los Angeles. I plan all my trips on one night of the week and just bite the bullet and get home at 9pm. I also order online even if it is pricier it can potentially save my a half hour or more just on my commute home. I live and work on the westside so that is without a doubt the worst traffic area in the region. I start a new job after thanksgiving so my commute hell will be improved to maybe a commute Indian burn.

    Point is that everything in life is a marketplace. Adding Trains is NICE because it gives people OPTIONS and who doesn’t love OPTIONS? But adding trains will NOT fix traffic on the freeways or even side streets. Someday we will have jet packs as an option for travel and hopefully teleportation which is my preferred travel method.

  • son of a landlord

    Hot and humid in Santa Monica today.

    Reports are that temps will hit a high of 87 degrees. By the beach. In November.

    I hate SoCal weather.

  • son of a landlord

    Just read an update. Latest reports are that temps in Santa Monica will hit 88, not 87.

  • Seen it all before Bob

    I think a good topic for the Dr would be to offer his expert observations on how proposed Trump policies will affect housing.

    1) Revocation of Dodd Frank? Easier sub-prime loans?
    2) Banishing of Yellen? Rate increases.
    3) Deportation of 100’s of thousands? Less rent demand, less traffic?

    Anything else?

    • Yeah, you forgot the biggest factor. The liberals in California are so traumatized and hysterical that their sudden and irreparable loss of confidence is going to cause the Silicon Valley bubble burst and housing investment to drop. They see his victory as a coming apocalypse, so they will be in no mood to make huge financial commitments in an exuberant market.

      • Trump doesn’t understand technology or the tech sector, so it’s going to be painful while he attempts to learn.

      • So What if Trump doesn’t understand tech. That why he has Peter Thiel as Chief Technology Advisor.

        I seriously believe that 90% of all H1B visas Indians and Chinese are not “Talent” They are Cheap labor on contract with less benefits and can quit or complain type employees. Maybe only 10% is real talent that can’t be found in the USA.

      • Trump doesn’t have to understand the cyber. His 10-year-old son is really good at the cyber, the best.

      • Hotel California

        Yep, been thinking the exact same thing, the hysterical reactions taking place are a metaphor for this bubble bursting. Remember Thiel’s impassioned Trump plea a few weeks ago and how he warned about bubbles? Mmm hmm.

      • “So What if Trump doesn’t understand tech. That why he has Peter Thiel as Chief Technology Advisor.”

        You’re assuming he’s going to listen to Peter Thiel. He’ll take advice from his 10 year old kid before he asks Thiel for anything.

    • Mortgage rates have already jumped to 4%+ on 30 year fixed conventional since Trump was elected. Bond yields soaring at a record pace.

    • I would love to see more on this topic too. Maybe keep the political mug slinging to a minimum… it is what is it… so what do we think some of the ramifications will be to Bay Area and SoCal housing?

      I would like to add:

      4) Political Environment that is less friendly to the silicon valley. i.e. Reduction in H1B visas. Pullback in tech investment / tax incentives. Will this start a deflation of the tech bubble? Less foreign tech workers snatching up homes and living 2-3 generations deep? Higher salaries for domestic workers?

      5) Increased rates. If the cheap money dries up will property investors start selling in order to cash out and chase better returns?

      6) Chinese buyers. If immigration becomes or is perceived to be harder… what do they do with all the property they have been snatching up?

    • 3) Deportation of 100’s of thousands? Less rent demand, less traffic?”

      A few years ago the Mexicans/Latino community protested, and didn’t show up for work one day. I can’t remember what they were protesting, but I had to do a lot of driving that particular day, during peak traffic hours in the SFV

      Streets that were normally busy were nearly vacant. I couldn’t believe how little traffic there was. I was getting to all my destinations in record time. I finally realized that the only thing responsible had to be their protest, and staying off the roads. It was only a one-off, but it was truly bliss.

  • Trump’s win…. Good for the economy which means higher interest rates sooner than expected. If you can get a house at under 4% do it now folks. the norm going forward in mid 2017, mortgages 5.5% at least, CD’s 4.5% which is good for savers.

    • Great. That’ll push down home prices.

      • I will speculate that if they really want higher rates there will be a big push to sell those zombie foreclosures sooner. Ah yes “Soon”. Probably will be lax lender standards with higher rates. However, what if the foreclosures are sold to people with a certain income in order to qualify? That may help keep prices from crashing.

      • “I will speculate that if they really want higher rates there will be a big push to sell those zombie foreclosures sooner. Ah yes “Soon”. Probably will be lax lender standards with higher rates. However, what if the foreclosures are sold to people with a certain income in order to qualify? That may help keep prices from crashing.”


        High unsustainable prices, not the quality of lending, is always at the heart of real estate bubbles. The higher prices are relative to incomes, the higher the chances of defaulting or falling behind on mortgage payments are. Prime, not subprime, borrowers were the main culprit for mortgage failures during the last downturn.

  • AirBnB – the controversy rages on

    I found it interesting that it only takes about 3 months of renting a room on AirBnB to make a years’ worth of renting a room.

  • Sure Robert, Feel free to lock in today’s record home prices at record low interest rates. I will pass.

    • Seriously. Why would I want to ‘lock in at a low rate’ when these low rates are inexorably linked to high home prices, and the higher propery taxes that go with them. As and added bonus you also have less of a mortgage interest deduction. In fact, I can’t think of a single good thing about a low rate environment for the average consumer when it comes to housing

      • Jon…Do you believe home prices will crash back to 2008 levels if rates climb to 6%? If you and others believe that than the many years I have posted on this site many still are waiting. Buying a home is based solely on what a buyer can and can’t afford and not the industry as a whole. In buying anything I don’t care if the economy at the time of purchase is good or bad, I only worry about the transaction of the property I’m buying.
        If you lose your source of income in a great economy who cares you are hurting, if home prices drop but you can’t buy that is bad for you.
        Shut out all the noise around you, buying a home is a process of what the final payment, taxes, location that makes sense for you no matter what the buyer down the street paid or interest rate, don’t care, just want to know about the property that you are interested in, if it doesn’t make sense move on, America always has opportunities, you must work to find them.
        One persons financial circumstance is another persons opportunity to purchase.
        There are two words that need to be discounted “All and “everybody” they are only used when anything goes bad in life, it makes you feel good that all and everybody are in the same boat?
        take care

      • Robert, I think rising interest rates will bring down home prices some on their own, but it’s the combination of other financial crashes that I believe will lead to the big housing drop. As charts have shown, once a real estate market gets much past 5 on the median income/median home price ratio, crashes happen. It’s just not sustainable without periodic crashes.

      • If you are sitting around waiting for 2008 housing prices again, I believe you will be waiting a long time.

        First and foremost Trump is a real estate developer and owns vast amounts of RE in the US. Last thing he would want is to crash the RE market and will do whatever it takes to keep the market afloat. That’s why I said earlier I wouldn’t be surprised to see some form of easy lending emerge as rates increase.

      • I think everyone is missing on how money is made in almost any market, volatility. Does Trump want higher interest rates, or the RE market to crash? I have no idea, but you can’t continue to inflate a bubble forever. And for what it’s worth, I was in Alaska in 2008, and oil prices, and other factors largely insulated it from the housing crash that decimated parts of the lower 48. All I know is I am glad I trusted my instincts and didn’t buy;,-149.903341,61.210316,-149.918597_rect/15_zm/1_rs/

    • Michael…Record breaking home prices? The overwhelming number of homes are not in record territory, I check (because I’m a investor) public records very 2 weeks in the tri state are of Ca, Az, ,Nev . Tremendous amount of homes have never sold and delisted because of no offers. Many homes DOM at all-time high, don’t believe the NAR or extreme areas that only 1.5% of buyers can afford. Sellers are looking to sell and if you offer what they owe or much below market value you will get a home.
      Friends of ours were looking in Moorpark area of Ventura county Ca. They like a 945k house but way out of their league. I pulled the house up on the market 414 days and they owed 735k. Called the agent, they have to sell and want to move on in their life.
      I put a offer in for them at 775k, no home inspection, sellers supply a home warranty of 1 year, we can close in less than 45 days. Sold
      They moved in last week.

      PS what would you rather do, buy a house for 650k at 3.75% (2900 a month) or wait and buy the house
      at 550k at 5.5% ( 3100 a month )down the road. That is what buyers have to ponder.

      • Home warranties are crap. Good luck to them if something major goes wrong in the next few months.

        Friends don’t let friends wave home inspections.

      • Robert, of course this one : 550k at 5.5% ( 3100 a month ). Btw having no home inspection is a big mistake. And home warranty insurances are last thing you need when buying a home. Just read some reviews of customer of home warranty insurances. Its just another tool for the realtards to convince you to buy a house and make you feel like you got backup in case something breaks or is already broken but not visible (because you did not do a home inspection).

      • Brain.. These homes I describe were both under 8 years old and only used as a incentive to the seller to accept the offer in there depressed circumstances.
        Certainly please don’t make this a acceptable practice I agree with you, in many cases a home inspection and land report is vital.

      • SoCalRulez . Again the use of a home warranty in these offers were only a tool, you are very correct, home warranties are for the most part useless, I found only one that is somewhat good but expensive about $900 a year.
        For the most part a home inspection is the rule not the exception. thanks

      • Now I understand why Robert thinks it makes sense to buy now with record low rates, he is in the RE industry, where its always a good time to buy a home!(TM)

  • son of a landlord

    Jon: Anyone that stops for what should be a yield sign, does it because they are afraid of getting a ticket, and having their insurance premiums go up. They don’t stop for some sense of moral code, or civic duty.

    I do. I come to a full and complete stop at EVERY Stop sign, even if the streets are deserted and I can plainly see there’s nowhere a cop car can be hiding.

    I also ALWAYS obey solid white lines. There’ve been times when I was the only car on the road. I wanted to turn, but kept going and going until I arrived at a break in the white line so I could turn legally.

    My passengers are sometimes frustrated at my refusal to break the rules of the road. Tough on them.

    I also ALWAYS drive with BOTH hands on the steering wheel, like I was taught in driver’s ed over 30 years ago. I’ve never broken that rule. Never even occurred to me to drive with only one hand.

    I ALWAYS follows the rules of the road, yes, out of a sense of moral/civic duty. And I expect others to always do the same. I LOVE traffic cops. ABSOLUTELY love them. I’ve never had any trouble with them. I LOVE it whenever anyone is ticketed.

    constantly weaving in and out of traffic and cutting each other off, or riding the bumper of the car in front of them.

    I never weave in and out of traffic. Never ride on bumpers.

    Do you stop at a stop sign for a full two seconds when you are on foot, and have already looked both ways while approaching it? Then why is it different on a bicycle.

    It’s not “different” for a bicycle. You’re obligated to obey the rules of the road — ALL the rules — ALL the time — same as everyone else. I do.

    And ALL the rules should be vigorously enforced. I wish there were 100s of traffic cops in Santa Monica, ticketing EVERYONE for EVERY violation.

    If everyone — cars, bikes, pedestrians — obeyed all the rules, all the time, traffic would flow much easier.

    • Get off your pedestal. You sound like my Mom, who with all her ‘safe driving practices’ is one of the most dangerous people on the road. Even the autonomous cars on the road that have been in accidents have been because they follow every law to an absolute T, and get rear-ended or side swiped as a result. BTW, keep using The ’10 and 2′ steering wheel position they taught you 30 years ago.

      ‘For decades, the standard instruction was that drivers should hold the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 positions, as envisioned on a clock. This, it turns out, is no longer the case. In fact, driving that way could cost you your arms or hands in particularly gruesome ways if your airbag deploys.’

  • Hotel California

    Speaking of rates, has anyone noticed the following in Trump’s tax plan?

    “The Trump Plan will increase the standard deduction for joint filers to $30,000, from $12,600, and the standard deduction for single filers will be $15,000.”

    It would take higher rates to make the MI deduction pencil out against that level of standard deduction.

  • The weekend after the election and there are a bunch of new for sale signs in Manteca,
    (60 miles east of SF). Are people afraid the RE market is going to tank?
    I doubt the Bay area will not because of the jobs and hot Chinese money. but it usually starts in the fringe areas like the Central Valley and Inland empire.

    Is this happening anywhere else?

  • As mortgage and housing prices rise, how long before we start seeing the 40 year mortgage as a viable option?

  • Robert,

    I realize in many places housing has not recovered that is except in the big cities. My perspective is where I live in the SF bay area prices. Also your assumption is that house prices will remain flat. That may prove to be a bad assumption at some time in the near future.

    • Michael…No crystal ball for sure, uncertain is the key word, that is why I practice only what is good for you, only on a property that makes sense, in good times or bad, losing money on deal hurts no matter what the economy at the time dictates. stay safe

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