Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero CA
Pigeon Point Lighthouse – Pescadero, CA

By Mariamne Beuscher, communications intern

Just over the Santa Cruz Mountains, the South Coast stretching along Highway 1 remains the least densely populated segment of the Bay Area. Nicknamed “the Slowcoast” by locals, the area is home to fewer than 3,000 people.

“The affluence of Silicon Valley—located just ‘over the hill,’ as many residents say—has not touched [people on the South Coast] except by making their lives more expensive: fog rolls over from the coast and cost rolls the other way,” describes a recent report from the Mountain View-based nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF).

The SVCF report shines light on the fact that these unincorporated towns along the South Coast – Pescadero, La Honda, San Gregorio, and Loma Mar – are sorely disadvantaged due to isolation, in spite of being so geographically close to Silicon Valley, which is home to several large tech companies. Hampering their progress, these tiny communities lack basic infrastructure such as a sewer system, public transit and Internet service.

However, the area’s seemingly most urgent dilemma is a shortage of affordable housing.

As demand for housing in Silicon Valley has caused rents and home prices to surge, rents have similarly spiked on the South Coast, leaving farmworker families struggling to afford a decent place to call home. The coast, with a history shaped by farming, shares little in common with Silicon Valley’s wealth. According to the San Mateo County Department of Housing, the median household family income is currently $115,300. For South Coast families, however, SVCF reports a median household income of just $26,000.

Based on assessments, the South Coast is in need of more than 1,000 units of farmworker housing to eliminate competition with other residents for market-rate housing. Puente de la Costa Sur, or just Puente for short, is a local South Coast community center that provides many residents’ basic needs and is currently planning a program that will match farmworkers with empty vacation rentals to help alleviate the housing shortage problem.

But hurdles remain to providing sufficient affordable housing, including vast swaths of protected land and difficulty accessing the infrastructure that makes development possible.

To read more, go here: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/silicon-valley-pescadero/531423/