Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 27, 2014

I’m glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda-ish — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

I had these three articles about the millennial generation opting to drive less in my drafts folder for a while, been meaning to push it out and given the discussion around the Del Monte project and the car sharing and other non-car transportation push, it’s relevant.  After all, I’m pretty sure that the Del Monte project is being marketed toward families and individuals that are not your typical two-car households.

The oldest article I had in the hopper was this one from Motor Trend from 2012:

The Great Recession’s effect on the ability of 16- to 34-year-olds to find a good-paying job has exacerbated this, according to the Frontier Group’s study, “Transportation and the New Generation,” by Benjamin Davis and Tony Dutzik, released last spring. If the U.S. automotive market has truly recovered from its 10.4-million-unit nadir in 2009 to an expected 13.5- to 14-million this year, it’s without much help from the under-35 age group.


The share of 14- to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license was 26 percent in 2010, up from 21 percent in 2000, the study says, quoting the Federal Highway Administration. In 2009, the 16- to 34-year-old age group took 24-percent-more bike trips than in 2001, even as its population shrank by 2 percent. The same age group walked to more destinations in ’09 than in ’01, and the distance it traveled by public transit increased 40 percent. Young people are returning to big cities and to near-urban, walkable suburbs, co-author Dutzik says. Many remain “connected” via smartphone for their entire mass transit commutes to and from work. They also are more interested in saving the planet, he says, though the economy remains the biggest factor. These young non-drivers are weaning themselves from cars, and won’t necessarily rush to buy them when the job market improves

The second article is from Time from 2013:

Gen Y has been dubbed Gen N, as in Generation Neutral — which is the way some describe how millennials feel about car ownership. Studies have shown that fewer young adults have driver’s licenses, that this group hates the traditional car-buying process more than other demographics, and that they prefer urban living and socializing online and therefore have less need for cars.

The latest data from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) bolsters the idea that younger Americans are much less interested in car ownership than their older siblings, parents and grandparents. Bloomberg highlighted data from the study showing that while consumers in the 35-to-44-age demographic were the most likely to be purchasing new cars four years ago, today it’s the 55-to-65-age Baby Boomers buying new cars with the most frequency. In 2011, boomers were 15 times more likely to purchase new vehicles than young millennials (ages 18 to 24), and even consumers ages 75 and up have been buying cars at higher rates than groups ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34.

The last article is one from the New Republic from earlier this year:

That today’s youth are driving markedly less than their predecessors seems clear. Between 2001 and 2009, a period in which the recession emerged and gasoline prices shot up, Americans of all ages reduced their driving. The U.S. population grew by about 10 percent during those years, but the total distance Americans drove fell by about 1 percent—a reversal from prior decades, when total miles traveled kept climbing, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Driving fell most sharply during the first decade of this century among those aged 16 to 30. Per-person miles traveled fell 2 percent among those 56 and older; 11 percent among those 31 to 55, and a massive 25 percent—more than twice as much as for the middle-aged group—among those 16 to 30. Another indicator: The portion of Americans aged 16 to 24 who have driver’s licenses fell to 67 percent in 2011, its lowest level in roughly a half-century, according to federal statistics cited in a report last year by the U.S. PIRG Educational Fund and the Frontier Group, two environmentally oriented organizations.

You can find articles earlier than 2012 wondering about whether this shift will last for millennials.  I imagine that even if the numbers cited above continue to drop (driver’s license ownership, vehicle miles traveled, car ownership, etc) we’ll still have yearly articles on “Are Millennials really abandoning their cars?”



  1. I don’t claim to know the hows or whys or the stats, but intuitively, it seems that jobs and demographics are driving this more than a secular change in life choices.

    The troubles young people are having finding work are well documented. We probably all know some 20-somethings who are struggling. Many have been forced to forgo the traditional first car purchase after graduation more because they couldn’t afford it, rather than a new paradigm.

    As for that new paradigm, don’t be too quick to extrapolate it. The Millennial Generation has more bodies than the Boomers (though that may depend a bit on which birth years one uses to calculate). Twenty somethings have a long history of moving into the center city or other urban neighborhoods when young, then migrating away to larger homes etc when they start families. Economic & other factors have prolonged their childless years, but it stands to reason that many millions of them will follow this same path, which, Lord Calthorpe please forgive me, includes a car or two.

    Is there is shift toward greener values and a less car dependent life? Yes. Is it a large enough shift to displace the demographic & other factors I describe? Unlikely, but we’ll see. At this stage we can only guess, but given that birth rates peaked approx 1990, one can easily envision 18-20 million autos/yr in the near future.

    Comment by dave — June 27, 2014 @ 6:25 am

  2. I’m actually witnessing this trend both in my neighborhood and in my family. My daughter and her husband own one car. My son in law takes the shuttle to work and my daughter drives. In my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that the younger families all have one car. Two of the families park their car during the week and commute by bus, the third household is a single person who doesn’t own a car, and he bikes everywhere. The fourth young family works from home.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 6:45 am

  3. The relevance of this trend, such as it is, to the Del Monte Project is near zero. The reason being that there is no guarantee that only one car and no car households will continue to occupy the units year in and year out. Even if every occupant uses public transit to get to work five days a week, as a whole, they aren’t going to rely on public transit to go grocery shopping or visit their friends. As the real world starts to intrude into idealism, and the two adults living in a unit realize they have to accept jobs in places not easily served by transit, if at all, they will each end up owning a car so they can pay the rent or mortgage to keep living in a pricey location. And ditto to #1.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — June 27, 2014 @ 7:03 am

  4. My understanding is that the development plans to offer neighborhood serving retail — which is something I would like to see as part of the entitlements for this project.

    Richard — I would say that any of us from the “older” generation have a hard time understanding this trend, especially if we aren’t experiencing it ourselves. But many urban developments are moving in this direction because they see the same marketing and sales trends.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 7:14 am

  5. 2:

    I’m part of that trend myself. For almost a decade I’ve walked or biked to work, or worked at home occasionally. (If it’s raining hard or I have an errand, I will drive, but not often). I often take care of local chores on bike instead of driving** and have lived almost my entire life in a walkable area.

    And yet between kids, errands, spouse’s job, etc, our lifestyle virtually demands 2 cars. We could cut to one but only at a great cost of time, convenience and safety. It’s reality. Or rather, the modern middle class reality of first world bourgeois comfort, but it’s still the reality in which we live, the reality of middle class life on an island with limited access and public transit geared toward SF and of little utility elsewhere.

    **One of life’s great little pleasures is to be carrying home groceries on my bike and see a local “smart growther/new urbanist” driving a car.

    Comment by dave — June 27, 2014 @ 7:21 am

  6. My son and many of his friends waited to get their licenses because of the restrictions on drivers under 18. ( Effective January 1, 2006, persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or other person specified by law when:1, Transporting passengers under 20 years of age, at any time for the first twelve months.
    2, Driving between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM for the first twelve months)

    They no longer offer driver’s ed in school, and driving school is expensive but, if you wait until you are 18, you don’t need to go to driving school. Plus, many of their parents cannot afford to help them get started in car ownership. He’s now 20 and bought a very old Toyota that gets great mileage, but only because his summer job (which pays really well) is in Walnut Creek. He went to high school in Oakland, so most of his friends used public transit routinely rather than driving, so there was no peer pressure involved in getting a car. That said, now that he does have access to a car, he avoids public transit like the plague. He’d rather stay home than spend an hour on public transit for a 15 minute car trip. I think the millenials have been delayed at entering the car market, but as long as they can get their hands on a reliable used car for under $5,000, they will eventually be driving. They may not be buying new cars, but they will be driving, especially when you have to go where the work is, and that’s not always a place with decent public transit.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 27, 2014 @ 8:09 am

  7. What I’m seeing is that’s actually what the car is used for — week-ends, errands, long trips, etc. I would imagine urban developments are not for everyone. But it’s nice to have options!

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 8:15 am

  8. “He’d rather stay home than spend an hour on public transit for a 15 minute car trip.”

    Taking public transit is like picking up 50 hitchhikers at once.

    Comment by Jack — June 27, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  9. Now we’re wearing long sleeves
    And the heating comes on
    (You buy me orange juice)
    We’re getting good at this
    Dreams of clean teeth
    I can tell that you’re tired
    But you keep the car on
    While you’re waiting out front

    Comment by Jack — June 27, 2014 @ 9:16 am

  10. I would point out that having retail spaces available is no guarantee that they will be filled. There seems to be quite a bit of commercial stock that is empty in Alameda. I don’t see how it would be possible to require commercial retail tenants as a condition of allowing residential occupancy, but even if that were possible, that wouldn’t guarantee that there continue to be commercial tenants as businesses move, grow, or go out of business.

    Comment by Jennifer — June 27, 2014 @ 10:33 am

  11. You folks must lead boring lives. Is all you need a car for work & groceries? Life in California is defined by The Road Trip. Have you never watched Huell Howser’s “California Gold”? The best thing about life in California, unmatched by any other state, is automotive proximity to the beach, the mountains, the desert, the redwood forests, blah, blah, blah…I think some people have been reading too many East Coast rags [NYT, the Atlantic…] A Californian sees her car as an extension of herself. Who moves to Alameda envisioning they will never leave this island to enjoy the state around them, except on public transit?

    Comment by vigi — June 27, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  12. #10 Jennifer, I was thinking coffee shops, small grocer, etc.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 11:07 am

  13. And restaurants. These are what the developer said he would provide. I can’t imagine providing anything less.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 11:54 am

  14. Judging by the traffic jam at rush hours and beyond including on the toll plaza at every Bridges ,
    Commute length as John said it take 1`1/2 hour to go to Palo alto or there by …on a previous post .
    It does not look like there are less car on the road to the contrary !
    But then who knows I am a blind driver.

    Nice try pushing every development in the City using such excuse .
    By the way UC Berkeley is currently building one of the largest parking garage right in the middle of the university
    One of the largest project if not the only one for the last 30 years on the east bay .
    You know for these peoples which are constantly bombarding you how you should leave your life.
    They want you to ride a bicycle use cattle buses so they can have the road for themselves ….Ironic .

    Just in case you wonder where the excavation material went , The Oakland airport ????
    aside of this project all the debris from the north bay end up right there ,
    One Co SS trucking made thousands of trips , most of them at speed which would have landed everyone else in jail ,
    I am talking 40 and 50 Mph as per the APD display in the street {calibrated by the way} leaving skip mark 150 feet long at most traffic light .
    Next thing they will enlarge the airport , Have fun bay point and bay farm you are in the take off and landing path .
    Just stop the hypocrisy and simply tell the residents what the future will be , an airplane taking off every 5 minutes and less , 300 plus houses at the point , few hundred at crab cove , few hundred where the old chevy was , couples hundreds off fruitvale bridge , couples hundred at the old Creosote plant on clement …..
    You do the math Peoples will use public transportation because there will be no way to get in and out off the island , by the way there are no plans to increase either Police Dept nor Fire Dept , you are adding thousands of new resident but no contingency for vital services ? The actual Police Station is too small , we all know the Fire station condition .

    Prove me wrong

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — June 27, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

  15. Talk is cheap, Karen. I’ll believe that there will be commercial tenants once the leases are signed. We certainly don’t have retail businesses flocking to fill the vacancies on Park St or in Southshore. Restaurants are refusing to move to Alameda at the Target shopping center. What restaurant owner is going to agree to gamble on a smaller location in a primarily residential neighborhood? I think getting a coffee shop is probably the most realistic tenant since the closest cafe is Jay’s.

    Comment by Jennifer — June 27, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

  16. The developer said that 20,000 to 30,000 sq feet would be commercial. Coffee shops yes, but alot of the residents want to see a small grocer as well.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  17. 16
    How do you know what the residents want when there are no residents?

    Comment by Jack — June 27, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

  18. These are the real numbers someone who is starting a business in Alameda Shared.

    70% of Single and Joint tax returns in 94501 and 94502 made less than 50,000

    IRS Data of Salaries and Wages in 94501 by those filing jointly and single…..28,822 Total Returns

    4104 made between 0-10,000 With the average making 3,952 in Salary and Wages

    5158 made between 10,000 -25,000 with the average making 12,483 in Salary and Wages

    7229 made between 25,000-50,000 with average making 30,040 in Salary and Wages

    4830 made between 50,000 -75,000 with average making 48,730 in Salary and Wages

    2688 made between 75,000-100,000 with the average making 67,253 in Salary and Wages

    3757 made between 100,000-200,000 with average making 103,913 in Salary and Wages

    1056 made more than 200,000 with the Average making 198,888 in Salary and Wages

    IRS Data of Salaries and Wages in 94502 by those filing jointly and single…..6623 Total Returns

    999 made between 0-10,000 With the average making 3658 in Salary and Wages

    653 made between 10,000 -25,000 with the average making 9,775 in Salary and Wages

    922 made between 25,000-50,000 with average making 23,977 in Salary and Wages

    927 made between 50,000 -75,000 with average making 41,356 in Salary and Wages

    742 made between 75,000-100,000 with the average making 58,996 in Salary and Wages

    1642 made between 100,000-200,000 with average making 106,493 in Salary and Wages

    716 made more than 200,000 with the Average making 232,395 in Salary and Wages

    Total Tax Returns in 94501 and 94502

    24,822 make less than 50,000 out of the 35,445 in Salary and Wages or 70%

    Comment by Don't let numbers get in the way of a good story — June 27, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

  19. #16 — Because I went to the developer workshop last week and people spoke about what they wanted to see at the Del Monte.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  20. And had these people already committed to being a resident of Del Monte or were they just voicing general Alameda talking points?

    Comment by Jack — June 27, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

  21. #18 — Looks like you’re the one trying to tell a story. Are you a reporter?

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 27, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

  22. 21…..No story…… Just trying to figure out why we have so many Empty Storefronts at Southshore and other places…The good news is we have many new businesses in Alameda….The other side of equation is many went Tap to open up spots for these new ones ….I wish the best to the new entrepreneurs …..Maybe 70% of Single filers and joint filers making less than 50K might be reason business environment and the storefronts are empty and why kids are not buying new cars. Who knows.

    Comment by Don't let numbers get in the way of a good story — June 27, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

  23. 21 Re # 18./22 That’s just what John does
    But don’t you think ,Karen, that it would be better if the Del Monte residents jumped on their bicycles and biked 5 minutes to Marina Village for groceries and coffee? Wouldn’t that tend to make a Marina Village strive to make itself more attractive younger residents? There used to be a restaurant in that round building across from the Oakland Yacht Club near the estuary that closed then became the Tide House Brew pub, IMO that sort of establishment would appeal to the residents of Del Monte instead of cloistering them in to the building they live in.

    Comment by Jack — June 27, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

  24. Jack, I think a nice restaurant, a coffee house, and a small grocer would be a great amenity for the homeowners that live in the Del Monte. I also agree with you that Marina Village and the Tide House property has great potential for improvement once the Northern Waterfront is developed.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 28, 2014 @ 6:27 am

  25. “He’d rather stay home than spend an hour on public transit for a 15 minute car trip.”

    Taking public transit is like picking up 50 hitchhikers at once.
    Comment by Jack — June 27, 2014 @ 9:10 am

    Comment by Jack — June 28, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

  26. Having whatever amount of commercial square footage doesn’t mean there will actually be tenants. See Park St and Southshore for examples. That was the point of my earlier comment. If there are no leases signed with commercial tenants and no negotiations or declarations of interest, it is just the developer saying whatever has to be said to get the project approved.

    Now, if it is possible to make commercial tenants a condition of residential occupancy, then that’s a different story.

    Comment by Jennifer — June 28, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

  27. A lot of urban developments provide some retail in their condo apartments developments. You’re right Jennifer not all of it gets leased, but the trend now is to lease it if they can because it adds value to the project.

    This is a project that Signature Homes did in Oakland called the Broadway Grand which included 20,000 sf. of retail:

    The tenants include Starbucks, high-end restaurants Ozumo and Picán. I’m not sure of the timing when the retail went in, but Signature Homes is still leasing up the project, and both restaurants are open for business and are pretty popular.

    Another residential development Signature Homes is doing in Oakland called the Hive already has a tenant list for the retail spaces.

    It would good to know if Tim Lewis has more specifics about the Del Monte plan for the commercial space.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 28, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

  28. I hope they don’t get an offshoot of Trabocco. Totally overrated by yelpers who apparently have never experienced a dining experience outside a shopping center.

    Dined there recently with two other couples holding high expectations, left totally disappointed. From service to noise to food to expense I’d rather dine at a Italian food truck.

    Comment by Jack — June 28, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

  29. Trabocco was probably worst experience ever eating….Including all Food Trucks…..Went there with friends and family whose son use to teach at SF culinary academy……Waiter shows up 15 minutes after we have been seated and says….”When the Owner Pays me More I will give better Service” nothing settles the stomach more than knowing you are going to spend about 500 on a dinner for 8 + another couple hundred on wine and leave about a 150.00 tip and be greeted with this attitude. Even With Italian accent it still did not settle well…..The Service was brutal and waiter kept bringing up his wage and having No clue how offensive it was…Plus being slow and forgetting everything we asked for….The food was mediocre but the dinning experience was horrendous….

    Comment by Pass the Trabocco Tums — June 28, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

  30. been there twice, both times service was quick and good. not to noisy, of course I dine between 5:30 and 6:pm. I have a feeling if I went there at 7:00 or 7:30 things could be different. Food is good not great, but then this is Alameda not S.F. both times the waiters were very nice.

    Comment by John P. — June 29, 2014 @ 8:41 am

  31. I’ve been to Trabocco twice and had a good experience both times. I’ve noticed that some places that get high marks on Yelp!, every so often get very low marks. The truth for most people is somewhere in between. Hyperbole is so prevalent today, a “horrendous” experience is sometimes due to something as simple as a spot on the silverware and “to die for” can be inspired by a creme brulee that tastes pretty much like the creme brulee at most high end places. Don’t just look at the stars, always read the reviews completely. I’ve seen one star reviews given by people who never even ate at the restaurant because the hours posted online by a third party (ALWAYS go to the official restaurant website for that) were incorrect. These are sites the restaurant has no control over. Yelpers can be both incredibly unfair and easily impressed. Besides, no restaurant is going to please everybody. We all have different ideas of “great”.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 30, 2014 @ 8:48 am

  32. Trabocco, no doubt appeals to many people. It’s a very eclectic restaurant design and the place was crowded when we were there on a Thursday evening. My personal bias is towards Italian evening eating experience in a quieter softer feeling atmosphere. Trabacco has a hard industrial modern look even though it’s supposed to be replicating a fishing hut and that atmosphere is noisy by design.

    We had just come off a Princess cruise to Canada before we dined at Trabocco and, if you’ve ever experienced an Italian dining experience at Sabatini’s aboard any of the Princess ships, it’s a night and day difference from Trabocco in terms of service and food.

    Giuseppe may be able to improve the service and quality of food preparation at Trabocco but the hard surface environment can’t be changed.

    Comment by Jack — June 30, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  33. Friends son flew in from back east who they haven’t seen in five years and all the family is looking forward to celebrating and breaking bread together and have chosen a restaurant they think would be worthy for the special occasion. The expectations were high for a great dining experience. This is a Sunday at 5 PM.

    When every part of the dining experience is a huge fail and when the conversation at dinner turns to how brutal the service is and dominates the conversation something is very very wrong.

    I have eaten in over a thousand restaurants and have never felt this uncomfortable about the way we were treated and the brash arrogance and demeanor of a waiter at the same time giving you brutal service.

    Maybe horrendous was to harsh. Label it anyway you want. But it ruined what was suppose to be a fabulous evening with friends and family celebrating, to a total buzz kill and leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth..

    Everyone at dinner would have loved to say it was fabulous….But when the stakes are high for going to a restaurant for a special occasion and you come away feeling like we did, I’m going to have to pass on Trabocco. As they say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

    Spending quality time with Friends and Family on Special Occasions are too important to risk having this happen again.

    Comment by Going to pass next time — June 30, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

  34. On occasions like that, best to go someplace you are sure of that never disappoints. Also, call ahead and make sure the restaurant staff knows it is a special evening. I know, I know. You shouldn’t have to, but it helps.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — July 1, 2014 @ 7:31 am

  35. post#32, Jack,I couldn’t agree more. Sabatini’s is my most favorite part of our cruise, we even had lunch there three times, as that is where they did the pizza on this ship. Its like eating in a library, so nice and peaceful. I have a very hard time hearing conversation in an noisy atmosphere, and most restaurants are noisy. Of course I’m a Horizon Court kinda guy. My wife isn’t to happy about that.

    Comment by John P. — July 1, 2014 @ 7:53 am

  36. While we are on the subject, it seems that more and more restaurants are blaring music and employing TV screens in the decor. When I dine out, I like to talk to the people I’m with and escape the head banging insistence of the media. Also, note to owners: If you frequently see people using their cellphones as flashlights to see the menu, turn up the damn lights. (And stay off my lawn!)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — July 2, 2014 @ 8:51 am

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