Friday, December 20, 2013

Silicon Valley Is Detroit: Are Zoning Laws to Blame?

Detroit was yesterday's Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is well on its way to becoming tomorrow's Detroit at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic convergence of the Innovation Economy.

Postscript: Rezoning and supply-side economics won't solve San Francisco's gentrification problem.


Pete Saunders said...

I wrote once that Detroit in its heyday was like Silicon Valley and most of the urbanist crowd said no freakin' way. So many parallels: the the high tech economy; the number of high-paid engineers; even the lack of devotion to a well-designed built environment.

The SF Bay Area is unique in that it has three poles: SF, Oakland and the Valley. Whatever happens in the future, SF and Oakland are more adaptable cities, but the Valley will be slammed if the Googles and Facebooks leave.

Dave said...

I think the Silicon Valley as Detroit analogy would only fit if SV had remained strictly a hardware phenomena (chips, printers, disk drives, etc). But it has transitioned, seemingly effortlessly, from hardware to software to Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 to hardware design (phones, pads, and now robotics) and apps for this newer hardware. An equivalent for Detroit would have been if it had transitioned into Aerospace after WWII, which it failed to do in any significant way.

But even if SV does falter (I assume it will some day, but it doesn't appear to be imminent), Pete makes a good point about the multi-pole Bay Area. SF has developed important and lasting institutions - another area where Detroit struggled - which will keep it relatively successful for a long time to come, in my opinion.