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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cupertino: Work-Live-Commute

Jobs and Commuting
A look at the number of employed in Cupertino and how many commute in and out.  
Cupertino Community Hall
Cupertino: Population: 60,643 (2016 est.)
Land Area: 11.3 Sq. Mi.
Density: 5,361/sq. mi.
Examining census data (as seen in the graphics below) over the 12 year period 2002 to 2014 we find that:

  1. Very few (9%) Cupertino residents (new or old) work in the city.
  2. Cupertino has added housing, yet most new residents don't work in Cupertino.
  3. Most residents (91%) commute to nearby communities.  
  4. Most (93%) of those employed in Cupertino commute in from other cities.
  5. Over the 12 year period, more employees in Cupertino commuted from further away; 28% commute 25 miles or more to Cupertino, up from 24%.
  6. Despite more housing being built, housing costs increase, commutes worsen both in and out.
Commute Times Approaching Maximum
Commute times to Cupertino may have reached a point at which no further job growth is possible. It will become increasingly difficult to hire employees as potential employees won't apply because of the commute times.  Increasing housing density would increase housing costs making it harder for many workers to live in Cupertino, but since most residents (new or old) commute out, increased housing would have little or no impact on commute times to Cupertino.

("Increased density increases housing costs" is discussed in detail here:

(The Census Bureau tool used is here with an explanation of data sources here:  Instructions on use of the census tool are here: ).

Jobs per Resident:

The Jobs / Resident ratio indicates how equitable a city's housing and jobs situation is.  If it is high (many more jobs than residents) it might indicate the city is hogging all the jobs (and tax revenue from commercial business) and letting other cities bear the expense of providing services for housing workers.  Housing requires many more services than commercial offices.

Some cities like Saratoga and Los Altos prefer to be almost exclusively residential, but most cities want as much tax revenue as they can get from business and commercial to support the expense of providing services for residents.  Cupertino is within the range of normal for most job centers in the US as is Sunnyvale. Cupertino is starting to get an excessive number of jobs per resident, but this seems unlikely to continue very long because of increasing commute times.

Cupertino: Number of Jobs / Number of Resident Workers:
2002:  26,751 / 20,243 = 1.32 = 32% more jobs than resident workers
2014:  33,949 / 23,749 = 1.42 = 42% more jobs than resident workers

Contrast with Mountain View - Number of Jobs / Number of Resident Workers:
2002:  50,174 / 31,467 = 1.59 =   59% more jobs than resident workers
2014:  85,006 / 36,935 = 2.30 = 130% more jobs than resident workers (!)

...And Sunnyvale - Number of Jobs / Number of Resident Workers:
2002:  77,480 / 58,375 = 1.33 =   33% more jobs than resident workers
2014:  84,276 / 66,209 = 1.27 =   27% more jobs than resident workers

2002 In-Out Commutes

In 2002 Cupertino had:
20,243 workers residing in the city.  Of those...
  1,950 worked in Cupertino
             I.e., only 7% of all workers in Cupertino lived there.
18,293 workers commuted out of the city = 90% of resident workers commuted out.
24,801 workers commuted into Cupertino = 93% of those working in Cupertino came from outside.

I.e., 93% of the workers commute in while 90% of the resident population commute out. Maybe it changed 12 years later in 2014? (click image below to enlarge)

2014 In-Out Commutes

In 2014 Cupertino had:
33,949 jobs in the city - an increase of 7,198 = 27% growth in jobs over 12 years.
23,749 workers residing in the city - an increase of 3,506 = 17% increase in resident workers
  2,175 residents working in the city = 9.2% of residents worked in Cupertino (down a fraction)
            = only 6.4% of all workers iCupertino live in town (down a fraction).
21,574 workers commuted out of the city = 91% of resident workers commuted out (up 1%).
31,774 = 94% of workers commuted into Cupertino from other cities.

I.e., In 2014, 94% of the workers commute in - about same as in 2002  - while 91% of the resident population commute out.  (click image below to enlarge)

Most residents (80%) of Cupertino  Don't Work There

Over the 12 years 2002 to 2014, there was new housing for 3,500 more workers in Cupertino.  Yet only 225 more Cupertino residents worked in Cupertino.  Despite increased housing, 3,250 more residents commuted out and 7,000 more commuted in.

Almost 7,200 more jobs were added.  Despite all those new jobs the percentage of residents who commuted out stayed about the same over 12 years.  Twelve years is plenty of time for residents to find a job in their home city of Cupertino if they want to.  Building more housing doesn't do anything to lessen commuting in or out.

It appears that for the vast majority of people, living and working in the same town isn't as important as finding a job that suits them, even if it means commuting.  They may live in Cupertino because they like the schools, or it is equidistant from jobs for both husband and wife, or any of a number of other reasons.  Commuting is not enough of a factor for them to move either home or job.

Commutes to Cupertino Get Longer

What we find in the next pair of data visualizations for 2002 and 2014 as seen below is that most people are commuting to Cupertino from further away in 2014 than in 2002.  (Yellow high-lighted numbers below.)  In 2002, only 6,400 (3458 + 2,938 = 6,396) or 24% commuted more than 25 miles.  By 2013 that had risen to 9,400 (5,320 + 4,074 = 9,394) or 28% (commuting over 25 miles) into Cupertino - nearly 50% more.  Nor can that increase be fully explained by private buses to San Francisco.  Further below we see figures showing the largest group commuted from San Jose - only about 1,000 (about one third) of that increase came from San Francisco.

Summarizing census data shown in visualizations below: (click table to enlarge)

The above data is from the two charts below.  

The 2 "radar" graphs show most everyone is commuting in from the North, South-East, and East.  Cupertino seems to be on the edge of a commute area.  The other thing to notice is that the commutes have increased in distance.  The number commuting has increased in all four distance categories but the longest commutes to Cupertino have increased more.  The "bike-able" Less than 10 miles category for commuters to Cupertino decreased from 50% to 48% while the two 'More than 25 miles' categories increased from 24% to 28% of commuters.  This suggests that Cupertino employers (mainly Apple) are having to go further and further to find employees.  Employees in Silicon Valley change jobs frequently and are not going to uproot their family just so one parent can bike to work.

Commuting on a luxury bus is better than driving but at some point the sheer time involved becomes a burden.  Getting home at 7:30 is a lot different than getting home at 6:00.  The commutes become too much for employees. Companies will relocate or expand elsewhere to find workers.
See your kids awake only on weekends?

Vehicle Miles Traveled:

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is the standard way of describing traffic.  For example, if 10 people each commute 12 miles, that is 10 people times 12 miles = 120 VMT.  How many VMT are logged by commuters to Cupertino is in the following table (click to enlarge):

The high-lighted last column illustrates that the biggest percentage increases were in further out commutes.  This is probably the motivation for Apple to start setting up a big campus in north San Jose.  Commutes to Cupertino are getting increasingly time-consuming for the average worker.  Put another way, Apple has run out of nearby workers so they have to go further out.  The longer commute likely makes it harder to hire.


Biking is very healthy and enjoyable.  Commuters who walk or bike to work actually enjoy their commute.  Cities should encourage it.  Does it make a difference in pollution, congestion, or GHG emissions?
Philadelphians Bike To Work
The last line in the previous table shows what VMT becomes if everyone who is within a 10 mile radius bikes to work (10 miles is about an hour by bike).  That is about 50% of all Cupertino commuters.  Most bike-to-work advocates would be ecstatic if they could get 10% to bike to work (second to last line in table above).  The impact of getting 10% or 50% of commuters to bike to work is seen in the following chart: (click chart to enlarge)

With 10% of all commuters biking to work we get a small but noticeable reduction in VMT.   With 50% biking we would get a noticeable (about 14%) reduction in VMT, but not really a "save-the-planet" or "clear congestion" difference.

This illustrates the "go big or go home" aspect of trying to reduce GHGs, pollution, or congestion by individual actions.  To get a meaningful reduction in GHGs we need all transit (including cars) to go fully electric with all electricity generated by renewable energy with some sort of storage (battery, pumped hydro, etc.) to fill in fluctuating usage periods.
Tesla Model 3 - 100% Electric - Saves the planet
So in answer to the question a few paragraphs ago: biking, despite its many virtues, does not make much difference in congestion or GHG emissions, even in the most extreme cases.  The arguments for biking should concentrate on child safety, health, and making life more enjoyable - all valid reasons to encourage biking.

2002: Where the Jobs Are

The blue "heat maps" below show where the jobs were most densely concentrated in 2002 and twelve years later in 2014.  The actual numbers have increased in all job centers so the maps show relative concentrations of jobs.  There are no surprises.  (click on chart to enlarge).

2002 - Where the jobs are
In 2002, the jobs were mainly concentrated in Cupertino, San Jose's North First St., Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.  The data in the lower right corner of the graphic above shows two out of three (67%) Cupertino residents were able to commute less than 10 miles.

This is a much greater percentage with short commutes than is typical in the area.  It largely explains why Cupertino is so expensive.  People pay more to have shorter commutes.  The people who can pay more tend to have better educations.  This means their kids have the social and financial support to do better in school so the schools are "better" reinforcing the attraction of Cupertino to educated people in a self-reinforcing cycle.

2014: Where the Jobs Are

By 2014, Google had become a major jobs presence, Apple had grown tremendously (the iPhone came in 2007).

The more intense blue in Mountain View in the 2014 heat map below shows that Mountain View became a much more major job source relative to Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and San Jose's North First St.  Sunnyvale grew the number of jobs but not as fast as Mountain View - the decline was not in absolute numbers but relative to other nearby areas.

2014 - Where the jobs are

The data at the right of the visualization above shows that the percent of Cupertino residents who commuted nearby actually decreased from 67% to 64% while the number who commuted more than 25 miles increased from 15.7% to 18.2%.  This runs contrary to the narrative that building housing and increasing density for people allows shorter commutes.  It also runs counter to the narrative that adding jobs to a city lessens commuting distances.  Could it have increased commuting distances by Cupertino residents?  Perhaps building housing and adding jobs did nothing whatever.  Perhaps the number of jobs around the SF Bay area increased randomly with respect to geography.  Many people seeking jobs consider first, how it helps their career, and only second, commuting distance.

Where Workers Commute From:

The graphic tables below show that the distribution of where workers commute to Cupertino from is relatively constant.  Most come from San Jose, followed by Sunnyvale and Cupertino.  The difference between 2002 and 2014 is that a smaller percentage of workers are commuting to Cupertino from nearby, and more commute from further out.  The numbers from all cities have increased but disproportionately greater from more remote communities.  Sunnyvale had 400 more commuters to Cupertino than 12 years before and Mountain view added 200.  Note that more Sunnyvale residents worked in Cupertino than did Cupertino residents (2,540 vs. 2,275).  Not huge amounts, but it shows falsity of the idea that if cities build more housing fewer will have to commute.  The direct opposite occurs.  (click on graphics to enlarge)

2002                                         2014

The visualization below shows a 10-mile radius circle centered in downtown San Jose.  For 2014, the data on the lower right of the chart shows a jobs / worker ratio of 1.05 (703K / 669K) - very close to one job per worker.

10 mile Radius from Downtown San Jose
Extending the radius of the circle from 10 miles to 15 miles (below) includes all of Mountain View and parts of Palo Alto and Fremont.  

15 mile Radius from Downtown San Jose

The number of workers goes up nearly 100,000 but the number of jobs goes up nearly 200,000.  This shows the extreme imbalance of the jobs vs. workers in the area between Santa Clara and Palo Alto.  Now the jobs-to-worker ratio is 1.17 which is still low or moderate.

There is much discussion about teachers not being able to buy a house in the towns they teach in.  The solution is not to build more housing - that only increases the demand for land thereby increasing the value of land thus making housing even more expensive.

If increasing density by building "up" lowered housing costs, why does a Manhattan studio condo with no parking cost $615,000...

... the same as a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs?

The solution is a more logical and also equitable distribution of jobs.

The peninsula area from Santa Clara to San Mateo will in the foreseeable future be a center for start-ups.  That area is close to the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Rd. in Palo Alto who don't want to go very far to check up on the start-ups they fund.

(From Wikipedia:  "Sand Hill Road, often shortened to just "Sand Hill",[1] is an arterial road in Menlo Park, California, notable for its concentration of venture capital companies.[2] The road has become a metonym for that industry; nearly every top Silicon Valley company has been the beneficiary of early funding from firms on Sand Hill Road.[3]" )

It isn't a matter of how high or densely you can build but how do you move people in and out?  You could, in theory, house all Apple workers right next to work (see image below).  And what would Wolf Road and Highway 280 look like when they decide to go shopping or go to a local park?  (Click image to enlarge)

“Of course, the bigger question,” says Jones, “is why the employees would want to live in a community like that.”  from:
Cupertino is on the periphery of the populated area.  It is bounded by protected open space on one side and equally densely-packed small cities on the other.  There is a point at which further job growth is not possible without extreme strain on housing and transit - which we are currently seeing.

The following chart of a 10 mile radius around Cupertino shows that for the area as a whole, (Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and parts of San Jose and Palo Alto), there are many more jobs than workers.  The ratio is 1.5. That is because of the large spaces to the south west of Cupertino with very few people.  Moving the center of the circle to Central San Jose as shown above, largely takes care of that problem.

Just looking at the the numbers living inside each 10-mile radius circle, we see 669,000 living in the circle centered around San Jose, but only 487,000 living in the Cupertino 10 mile radius circle.  This is a 37% increase in the number of available employees.  More importantly for the employees, it makes it easier to commute from more affordable areas.  This by itself should make central San Jose more attractive to employers.  Sure, there are plenty of engineers in the Cupertino and surrounding area, but you also need accountants, clerks, security guards, maintenance workers, etc., etc.  Being within a desirable commute area is good for everyone.

Building 'up' is not a solution to housing price inflation, as seen by looking at the densest parts of major cities like London and New York.  The desirability of living in the center results in the bidding up of land values with concomitant higher rents and prices.  It is no accident that a nice single family townhouse in Mayfair in the center of London costs $7M.  Land is the limiting factor and we can't make more of it.

Lower Manhattan
Cheap Housing?

No matter what some may say about changing attitudes, most people do not want to live in a condo high-rise.  They want a single family home and will commute as far as necessary to get that.  We see that already with 93% of new workers in Sunnyvale commuting from Morgan Hill, Livermore, Fremont, and Pleasant Hill. (c.f.,


The map below shows the urbanized areas of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Cupertino is clearly on the very edge.  Which implies it is on the edge of the easy commute area.  The area to the west of Cupertino is simply not going to be urbanized.  As we have seen, it is getting increasingly difficult to commute to Cupertino so Apple has to expand elsewhere in order to continue to grow.  Google is in the same situation.
Cupertino is on the very edge of the Urbanized Area
Based on census data for the last 14 years,
  1. If Cupertino adds housing, much of the new housing will go to people who commute out of Cupertino, giving no relief to those commuting into Cupertino.
  2. Increasing housing density would further increase the cost of land and therefore the cost of housing built on the land.   ("Increased density increases housing costs" is discussed in detail here: and here )
  3. Cupertino is already very expensive so further increases in housing costs would be unmanageable for most of those who rent there.  They would have to leave to be replaced by more affluent workers who can afford the higher rents.  This would cause even longer commutes by the less affluent from lower rent locations resulting in greater difficulty in hiring people to work in Cupertino.
It appears Apple as the main employer in Cupertino has no choice but to expand closer to where workers are.  They will be doing just that with a new campus in San Jose north of the airport.  See below:

86 Acre Future Apple Campus in San Jose
As Apple and Google expand in San Jose, housing costs in Cupertino and other communities will stabilize.  Housing prices won't decrease because most residents of Cupertino don't work there.  People will continue to pay high prices to be in the highly rated Cupertino school district while commuting to other cities.
What Home Buyers Really Care About
As downtown San Jose develops, housing prices within central San Jose will increase because people pay more to be close to major job centers.  San Jose has 180 sq. miles and about 1,000,000 people.  Cupertino has 11 sq. miles and 61,000 people = 6% of San Jose's area and population.  San Jose can absorb the influx much more easily than Cupertino.  A few neighborhoods near downtown and transit depots will see an increase in property values, but most neighborhoods won't even notice.  Schools near the new high tech job centers will 'improve' not because of anything teachers do but because the students will be the children of more highly educated parents.

Over time - and I mean years - more and more engineers will find housing near the new job center in central San Jose to be closer to work.  More and more companies will locate there to be near where they have access to more engineers.  Thus starts a self-reinforcing cycle making San Jose a big tech center.  Eventually, as office building leases expire and older employees retire, it will be easier for Apple and Google to relocate most of their headquarters functions there as well.

San Jose will evolve into a major city with a vibrant and exciting cultural life that people from the boring suburbs of Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Fremont can visit for an evening or weekend before returning to their quiet little homes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mountain View: Work-Live-Commute

Mountain View
Mountain View City Hall and Center for Performing Arts
A look at the number of employed in Mountain View and how many commute in and out.

Mountain View: Population: 77,846 (2013 est.)
Land Area: 12 Sq. Mi.
Density: 6,487/sq. mi.

Part of a series looking at Silicon Valley work-commute issues including:

Examining census data from their ongoing surveys compilation of records from other agencies, over the period 2002 to 2014, we find during those 12 years:
  1. Mountain View has increased jobs 70% but housing only 17%,
  2. The number of long distance commuters (over 25 miles) nearly doubled (11,000 to 21,000),
  3. 91% of the jobs in Mountain View are held by those who commute in,
  4. To house all their workers, Mountain View would need to double their population.
  5. Sunnyvale added housing resulting in fewer Sunnyvale residents working in Sunnyvale, and more commuting to Mountain View.
  6. Biking to work isn't going to "move the needle" on anything.

Number of Jobs / Number of Resident Workers:
2002:  50,174 / 31,467 = 1.59 =   59% more jobs than resident workers
2014:  85,006 / 36,935 = 2.30 = 130% more jobs than resident workers

(The Census Bureau tool used is here with an explanation of data sources here:  Instructions on use of the census tool are here: ).

Implications for Sunnyvale:

A similar analysis of Sunnyvale "worker-commuters" showed that despite all the housing and jobs added in Sunnyvale, fewer Sunnyvale residents worked in Sunnyvale, and more commuted to Sunnyvale from further out (like Morgan Hill and Livermore).  (This is detailed in: ).

For Sunnyvale, this implies that adding housing in Sunnyvale simply enables more people to live near their work in Mountain View.  If Sunnyvale decided it is not it's destiny to be a bedroom suburb of Mountain View (MV) and stopped adding housing, then MV employees would have to commute further.  This would exert greater pressure on companies in MV to relocate to a more central location with better transit - as Google is finally planning to do at Diridon Station in San Jose.

2002 In-Out Commutes

In 2002 Mountain View had:
50,174 jobs,
31,467 workers residing in the city.  Of those...
  4,609 worked in Mountain View. 
             I.e., only 9% of all workers in Mountain View lived there.
26,858 workers commuted out of the city = 85% of resident workers commuted out.
46,565 workers commuted into Mountain View = 90% of those working in Mountain View came from outside.

I.e., 90% of the workers commute in - 85% of the resident population commutes out. Maybe it changed 12 years later in 2014? (click image below to enlarge)

46,000 Commute IN, 27,000 Commute OUT, 4,600 live-and-work in Mountain View
It changed in that many more commuted in, as seen below:

2014 In-Out Commutes

In 2014 Mountain View had:
85,006 jobs in the city - an increase of 35,168 = 69% growth in jobs over 12 years.
36,935 workers residing in the city - an increase of 5,468 = 17% increase in resident workers
  7,335 workers working in the city = 20% of residents worked in Mtn Vu (up from 15%)
            = only 8.6% of all workers in Mountain View live in town (down a fraction).
29,600 workers commuted out of the city (up almost 3,000) = 80% of resident workers commuted out (down 5%).
77,671 (up over 32,000) = 91% of workers commuted into Mountain View from other cities. (up a bit)

I.e., In 2014, 91% of the workers commute in - same as in 2002  - while 80% of the resident population commute out.  (click image below to enlarge)

77,700 Commute IN, 29,600 Commute OUT, 7,300 live-and-work in Mountain View

Most residents (80%) of Mountain View Don't Work There.

Over the 12 years 2002 to 2014, there was new housing for 5,500 more workers in Mountain View.  Of those 5,500 just over 2,700 worked in Mountain View.  I.e., about half of all new residents worked in Mountain View, half commuted out.

Almost 35,000 more jobs were added.  Despite all those new jobs the percentage of residents who commuted out actually increased in 12 years.  Twelve years is plenty of time for residents to find a job in their home city of Mountain View if they want to.  Building more housing doesn't do anything to lessen commuting in or out.

It appears that for the vast majority of people, living and working in the same town isn't as important as finding a job that suits them, even if it means commuting.  They may live in Mountain View because they like the schools, or it is equidistant from jobs for both husband and wife, or any of a number of other reasons.  Commuting is not enough of a factor for them to move either home or job.

Commutes to Mountain View Get Longer

What we find in the next pair of data visualizations for 2002 and 2013 (2014 data was missing) as seen below is that most people are commuting to Mountain View from further away in 2013 than in 2002.  (Yellow high-lighted numbers below.)  In 2002, only 21% (10,725) commuted more than 25 miles.  By 2013 long distance commuting (over 25 miles) into Mountain View had nearly doubled - growing from 10,725 to 21,146.  Nor can that be fully explained by private buses to San Francisco.  Further below we see figures showing the largest group commuted from San Jose - only 6,500 (little over half) of that increase came from San Francisco.

(Note: comparing the number of Mountain View employees in 2013 and 2014, note employment increased from 75,000 to 85,000.  I.e., about 10,000 jobs were added in one year.)

Summarizing census data shown in below visualizations:

 2002 Commute Distance:

Total Primary Jobs = 50,174 

Less than 10 miles: 21,405 = 43%
10 to 24 miles:        18,044 = 36%
Long Distance Commutes:
25 to 50 miles:          6,173 = 12%  (12% + 9% = 21%)
More than 50 miles: 4,552  =  9% of workers

2013 Commute Distance:

Total Primary Jobs = 75,831

Less than 10 miles: 29,792 = 39%
10 to 24 miles:        24,893 = 12%
Long Distance Commutes:
25 to 50 miles:        13,759 = 18%   (18% + 10% = 28%)
More than 50 miles:  7,387 10% of workers

The above data is from the two charts below.  The "radar" graph shows most people are commuting in from South East (Sunnyvale, and San Jose).

The blue "heat map" below shows where the jobs are most densely concentrated.  The "Radar Map"in the upper right corner shows where and how far people commute from.  The table in the lower right shows what percent commute from how far. (click image below to enlarge)

With more jobs, hiring companies went further and further out to find candidates.   They depleted the number of workers available in the narrow area between the protected open space to the West, and SF Bay to the East.  All that was left was to go even further South and North.

The 'radar' map and data below show that more commute from further away than 11 years earlier in the previous visualization.  The blue "heat map" below shows where the jobs are most densely concentrated.  The "Radar Map" in the upper right shows where and how far people commute from.  The table in the lower right has the numbers for the "radar map" visualization. (click image below to enlarge)

Bike or Walk to Work:
Philadelphia Mayor Bikes to Work - 2013
Biking is great exercise and people who bike to work actually enjoy their commute.  You should try it, if possible.  Is it a part of a solution to commuting woes in the majority of cases?  We can easily calculate this and the maximum difference this could make for GHG emissions and congestion.

The typical biking speed is about 10 miles per hour (  That limits the number of those who can reasonably bike to work to 39% in 2013 in Mountain View (less than 10 mile commute = 1 hour max each way - data from lower right corner of chart above).  If getting 10% of people to bike to work is the goal, in Mountain view in 2013 that would be 7,500 commuters.  That 7,500 is 25% of the 30,000 who live within bike-able 10 miles of work.

A simple and easy calculation of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) from the census data above for 2013 gives:
  1. 10 miles or less = (avg 5 mile) X 30,000 commuters = 150,000 VMT =   9.7%
  2. 10 to 24 miles = (avg 17 mile) X 25,000 commuters = 425,000 VMT =  27.5%
  3. 25 to 50 miles = (avg 37 mile) X 14,000 commuters = 518,000 VMT =  33.6%
  4. Over 50 miles = (use 60 miles) X 7,500 commuters = 450,000 VMT  =  29.2%
  5.                               Total 77,500 commuters;   Total = 1,543,000 VMT  =  100%
If 25% of those within a 10 mile range actually biked to work, it would be 25% of the 150,000 VMT from that "10 miles or less" group.  25% of 150,000 = 38,000 VMT.  This is only 2.5% of the total 1.5 Million VMT.

Subtracting out that 38,000 VMT miles "biked" from the 1,543,000 VMT leaves 1,505,000 VMT.  This can be seen in the graph below (click to enlarge):
Compare the bottom bar of the graph with the one just above it
If 10% of of commuters biked to work, it would be barely noticeable.
Even if you got everyone in the 10 mile range to bike or walk to work (40% of all commuters), their 150,000 VMT would only represent about 10% of total VMT.

The reason biking has negligible impact on Vehicle Miles Traveled is that the 10% of commuters who live more than 50 miles out contribute 3 times the VMT as the 40% who live nearby.  Even assuming electric vehicles, that is a huge impact on roads, and traffic.

How realistic is getting 10% to bike to work?  The highest percentage of bike-to-workers of any (non-college) metro area is Portland, OR.  The city of Portland proper (about 700,000) is at around 8% biking to work, but the entire metro area of 2 million people is at 2.2%.  The avg. for the SF Bay area is currently about 1.5% (down from 2.2% several decades ago).  Getting 10% to bike to work will be a challenge.  I cover that in more detail here:

Which Cities Workers Come From:
Looking now at which cities people commute from, we find that in both 2002 and 2014, San Jose dominates, with Mountain View, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara occupying the next slots.  Commuters from Sunnyvale increased from 4,670 to 7,040 - a 50% increase.  Contrast this to what we found in our earlier study of Sunnyvale, which saw an actual decline in the number of Sunnyvale residents who live and work in Sunnyvale.  That suggests Sunnyvale is becoming a dormitory for Mountain View, providing housing for those who can't find housing in Mountain View.  This has had a "knock-on" effect in Sunnyvale in that 93% of the increase in commuters to Sunnyvale came from Morgan Hill, Livermore, Pleasanton, and Fremont.  The number of commuters from San Jose to Mountain View also increased by 50%.

The "heat maps" below show where commuters are from in 2002 and 2014.  San Jose is darkest indicating they provide more commuters to Mountain View.  Note that in 2002 there were more people commuting to Mountain View from San Jose and Sunnyvale than "commuted" to Mountain View from Mountain View (click image below to enlarge)


In 2014, it got "worse" in the sense that the numbers of people commuting from San Jose increased 50%.  That increase (5,000) was about double (in numbers) the increase in MV-to-MV commuters (2,600).

Resident Stability

According to census data, (see table below) over 70% of renters in the US have been in their unit for 3 years or less.  (22.9% + 26% + 14.1% + 8.2% = 71.2%).  Over 60% have been there 2 years or less. (click image below to enlarge)

Assuming this is also true for Mountain View the effects are that many residents are likely to have less attachment to the community of Mountain View.  Since all available space for detached single-family housing in Mountain View is taken, anyone seeking a single family home is forced to commute from further and further away.  Which is what we saw in the above commute data.

(Renter duration with median of 2.1 years is also expressed as 50% avg. turnover for apt. dwellers - i.e., half of all apt. residents leave every year.  C.f., ).

Conclusion:  Mountain View has more than 2 times the workers they can house.  Adding more housing simply does not solve the problem because you can't make people work where they live.  Roads are clogged, commutes are getting worse.  Public transit cannot handle all this traffic.  As Mountain View high-paying employers keep on expanding in Mountain View they find it harder to get employees to come through the traffic.   And if employees do come, they are not likely to stay very long unless they can afford $2M for a modest house in town.  If they can afford that, they squeeze out all those that can't afford $2M.  The commutes will get longer and more crowded either way.  For every highly paid engineer with stock options and hiring bonus there are 5-10 more moderately paid people in book-keeping, building maintenance, food service, etc., etc.  So for every engineer hired who CAN afford to live in MV, there are 5-10 people hired who CANNOT afford to live in MV and must commute from outside.

What if all 10,000 employees at Google headquarters in Mountain View were provided on site housing?  Alfred Twu envisioned it as seen below.  Average apt. size = 800 sq. ft. (click image to enlarge).

Google Ville
Employers who cannot compete with the highest paying companies will lose employees who cannot afford to live nearby and will ultimately be forced to relocate.  Auto repair shops, mom-and-pop services like dry cleaners, and small restaurants will close and move.  As housing costs are forced up further by the increasing average incomes, small retail that cannot keep up with the increase in rents will leave.  (Discussed in more detail here: )

There are 78,000 residents in Mountain View of which 38,000 are employed - roughly half of residents are workers.  To house the 85,000 workers in Mountain View, assuming the same ratio of workers to residents, there would need to be housing for 170,000 residents - over 2 times the current population (2.18 times to be precise).  To illustrate what that means, every house would become a duplex, every 2-story apt. building a four-story, and every four-story an eight-story apt. building.

Every single family house becomes a duplex

Every two-story apt. becomes a four story

Every four story apt. becomes an eight story apartment:

Of course, schools would also double in size, as would traffic.  Since school mitigation fees for commercial buildings are grossly inadequate for school expansion (limited by state law), expansion of schools will require some sort of parcel tax or increased class sizes or both.

And of course, we can't ignore the implications of global warming.  Glaciers are rapidly melting, seas will rise, and much of Mountain View will go under water as seen below (click image to enlarge):

Mountain View - 2060 - Already "Baked In"
Sunnyvale - 2060

I cover that in more detail here:
and here:

Even if you forget about sea level rise (it won't forget about you, though) most of the new residents are likely to commute out, based on past experience seen above.  The residents of Mountain View would need to decide if doubling their residential density is desirable.

With increased density comes increased housing prices as the limited available land is bid up in price. This is standard "bid-rent" theory as exemplified most clearly in Lower Manhattan and San Francisco.  It is such a widely accepted demographic principle it is taught in high school in AP Geography.  (C.f., AP Teacher's guide, page 75, week 31 here: ) (click image below to enlarge)

(C.f., or )

Mountain View housing will become more expensive if jobs and population increase.  For more discussion of that principal of Urban Economics consider the following:

"First an increase in the population size has fairly straightforward effects. Indeed, a rising population makes competition for land fiercer, which in turn leads to an increase in land rent everywhere [emphasis added] and pushes the urban fringe outward.  This corresponds to a well documented fact stressed by economic historians.  Examples include the growth of cities in Europe in the 12th and 19th centuries as well as in North America and Japan in the 20th century or since the 1960s in Third World countries."  (From page 83 section 3.3.2: Economics of Agglomeration:... by Fujita, Thisse).  

We see this in the growth of Chicago as charted below.  The population reached the city limits and kept on expanding outward to less and less dense (and therefore less expensive) areas.
This is discussed in detail in

Google is (finally) setting up a job center near transit in San Jose, where the single greatest number of their employees come from.  They are doing it because they must.  Google is running out of potential employees near by.  The lengthening commutes discourage potential hires from further out.

Even if you get a free commuter bus with Wi-Fi, arriving home at 7 PM (or 8 PM if there's especially heavy traffic) is a lot different than arriving home at 6 PM, especially if you have kids.

See your kids awake only on weekends?
When Google and other tech cos. expand to San Jose it transfers the problem from Mountain View and its neighbors to San Jose, but San Jose has 15 times the population (1M vs 78,000) and 15 times the land area of Mountain View  (180 sq. mi. vs 12 sq. mi.).  Housing is a lot cheaper and transit option are better.  San Jose can absorb the increase in jobs and residents much more easily.

Hyper-Growth => "Displacement"

The term gentrification has given way to "displacement" as a term for saying people are getting priced out of neighborhoods because of the constant increase in higher income tech employees.

Protesters block a Google-employee commuter bus in San Francisco bound for Mountain View
From the article in Fortune Magazine:  "The buses are certainly one of the most visible indicators of the thriving tech industry, which is held largely responsible for escalating city rents and a rise in evictions for residents who can't afford to keep up."

"Two newly homeless people and a witness secured entry for a meeting with Housing Officers"
As a problem for the SF Bay Area, the only real solution is for companies located here to expand to other less crowded and less expensive areas.  Tech cos. have done just that in expanding to Austin, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Raleigh-Durham, NC; and lately Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.  Companies need to consider other areas as well.  The US is a big country, with a lot of beautiful areas and lots of smart people. (click image below to enlarge).

(Note: California is also a town in MD.  C.f.,,_Maryland )
STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) Concentrations in US

I have covered housing more thoroughly here:
Search for "Raleigh" to find where in the above post (ctrl-F Raleigh)

For now, this is...