Disrupting Silicon Valley Housing and Homelessness

storify of and notes on discussion July 12-17 about new approaches to affordable and transit-served housing in Silicon Valley:

Brian Davis works for Google in Business Development.


Zoe Hoster works for LocalMotion, a San Mateo-based startup providing car sharing and fleet management for corporations, campuses and governments.

Caltrain is the commuter railroad between San Francisco and San Jose. RWC is Redwood City, where the rail spur to Google & Dumbarton Rail Bridge connects to Caltrain main line. BART is Bay Area Rapid Transit, which connects San Mateo County, San Francisco, and the East Bay. It’s current southernmost stop is Fremont, across the Bay from Palo Alto and Facebook headquarters.

Adina Levin is VP Products at Socialtext, a collaboration software company based in Palo Alto; also, active community organizer with Peninsula Transportation Alternatives, Friends of Caltrain, etc.

AJKhn is Asher J. Kohn, a recent law graduate, freelance writer and editor, and new arrival to area who is interested in urban access to natural resources in California’s Bay Area.

I’m referring to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, Palo Alto residents, recent donation of $120M to East Palo Alto schools.

Egon T is Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director for SPUR, (formerly known as San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association. SPUR has recently opened a branch office in San Jose, and Terplan has presented locally on Mountain View planning & housing issues.

#OurPaloAlto is a series of community planning meetings being held by the City of Palo Alto. I have been discussing with the organizer, PA’s Director of Economic Development Tommy Fehrenbach, the idea of panel or workshop event(s) on innovative housing approaches for the city.

Maker Cities is an initiative of Institute for the Future in Palo Alto.

StanfordDSchool is Stanford School of Design.

LiberationTechnology is the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford, founded by Terry Winograd, bridging computer science, engineering, and social science.

Urban Prototyping is an initiative founded by Gray Area Foundation for the Arts which has put on several festivals in San Francisco and other cities to explore rapid urban building, installation, & placemaking approaches.

line from “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan has become a thriving city of 100,000+, and a remarkable laboratory for informal urbanism. This was discussed in a July 4, 2014 feature in the Sunday New York Times by head architecture critic MIchael Kimmelman “Refugee Camp for Syrians in Jordan Evolves as a Do-It-Yourself City.” I subsequently got in touch with the UN official in charge of the camp, Kilian Kleinschmidt, to discuss how we might apply some of their models and methods for homeless needs in SIlicon Valley.

Martha Bridegam is a San Francisco lawyer experienced in low-income housing and homelessness issues.

The Sobrato Organization is a major Silicon Valley-based property developer and owner. Sobrato Philanthropies is its philanthropic arm.

SFPUC is San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

a few days later, Lauren Hepler of Silicon Valley Business Journal wrote a feature on Jennifer Loving, Coyote Creek camp, and the Downtown Streets Team homeless-employment non-profit: “Can new jobs and microunits help fix Silicon Valley’s homelessness epidemic?”

The story quotes Loving, executive director of San Jose homeless services organization Destination: Home” (and quoted in Twitter transcript above):

“How do we disrupt or innovate our approach to land use and housing?” said  “That’s a call to the Valley’s disruptive thinkers.”


updated Friday July 18, 12:20pm: 

I connected with Downtown Streets Team (founded in Palo Alto, 2005) after they noticed my mention of them on Twitter:




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