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Riffraff from SJ Valley buy $500K homes in Pleasanton
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Folks who can only afford $500,000 homes are riffraff.

Sounds crazy? It doesn’t if you are in Pleasanton and are among those speaking out against plans to build more affordable housing in the community of 70,000 where the medium income household income is $113,345 and the median home value is $813,000.

An argument advanced by one Pleasanton resident speaking out against more affordable housing was that $500,000 homes attracted Central Valley riffraff.

Whoa. Middle income families in Manteca would have a struggle paying the median Pleasanton rent of $2,500 let alone the mortgage payment on an $813,000 home.

Given the fact that during the Great Recession a sizable number of those who work in the Bay Area that had been forced to head east over the Altamont Pass to afford housing managed to return when housing prices dropped means the riffraff they most likely are talking about are hardworking folks who used to live in the Bay Area.

The perception of riffraff is obviously in the eye of the beholder.

Folks have been known to refer to some who move to Manteca as Bay Area riffraff.

In each case, those who sound the alarm are trying to blame growth for upticks in crime and quality of life issues. In their worlds, the only folks capable of crime and diluting the quality of life move into their communities from elsewhere. Crime isn’t home grown. It’s imported. At least that’s what they believe.

It goes in line with other die-hard assumptions.

• Renters are lower class people.

• The Northern San Joaquin Valley is Grapes of Wrath 2.0.

• Bay Area transplants who used to be disparagingly referred to by the shorthand acronym BATS

• San Joaquin Valley residents are all descendants of the Goad family — a nice way of saying hicks — and they’re not as smart or industrious as those in the Bay Area.

• There is no worth or value in manual labor.

• All Bay Area young high tech entrepreneurs are self-centered.

The list goes on and on.

Such generalizations besides being shallow are also way off base.

Renters often are better neighbors than many homeowners.

The San Joaquin Valley has its share of folks with college degrees and skills that have changed the world for the better although most of those are associated with keeping the world fed instead of clamoring for the next hottest app.

Blue collar labor is what built the Silicon Valley infrastructure as well as turned many high tech products into reality.

High tech entrepreneurs are among the most giving in terms of money according to various surveys.

You can speak ill of folks on the opposite side of the Altamont Pass from where you live but the truth is we can’t exist without the other.

And it’s not just because 12.5 percent of the nation’s food is grown in the San Joaquin Valley or that the Bay Area generates the lion’s share of the world’s high tech and Internet innovations.

We need each other economically.

Countless government studies show the Bay Area housing shortage becoming more acute as the region’s economy continues to grow. The Northern San Joaquin Valley has become one of the Bay Area’s key de facto affordable housing solutions.

At the same time, the higher median income of workers with Bay Area jobs forced to flee east across the Altamont to secure affordable housing spend most of their paychecks in the valley towns they call home generating jobs in the service, retail and professional fields ranging from store clerks to nurses and doctors.

Leaders of the two regions understand they must work more in synch at least when it comes to transportation options.

It is why nearly two decades ago Santa Clara and Alameda counties joined forces with San Joaquin County to get the Altamont Corridor Express passenger train service rolling.

While it helps relieve freeway congestion by getting commuters on both sides to take the rail to jobs in the Silicon Valley, it also is providing an economic boost to both regions.

It gives the Bay Area a workforce including food service workers that have been known to have their fares subsidized by their employees so they can take $12 an hour jobs in San Jose that go unfilled and still live in Stockton.

It also helps increase the income wealth on the east side of the Altamont while opening the door one day for a reverse commute where companies expand or relocate into the valley while key employees that are paid well and prefer the Bay Area lifestyle can stay living west of the Altamont.

In a nutshell, we need each other regardless of what side of the Altamont Pass we live on.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.