Google Driverless Cars Could Change Where People Move

Image of Google Car from Wikipedia
Image of Google Car from Wikipedia

Bay Area real estate is notoriously high priced, but still, young, highly-paid tech industry folk are gravitating toward the city centers and close to their places of work. Why drive when you can walk to work or at least to your social life? That could be changing with the advent of Google’s self driving cars.

Some in the industry, though, are starting to think about this potential high-tech reality: Driverless cars like the ones dreamed up byGoogle could ease traffic congestion, parking headaches, unproductive commutes and drunk driving concerns, making it easier to get from point A to point B. The suburbs, once again, could be cool – and not in an Arcade Fire kind of way.

James Kilpatrick, president of the brokerage NAI Northern California, pitched that vision to an audience at the Northern California Apartment Summit on Tuesday. He said on a panel while the idea might sound crazy now, developers need to keep an eye on how new technology will change how cities and the suburbs play off each other. He pointed out how some scoffed at the idea of micro-apartments last decade — only to see those building them make a killing now.

“What we will all look at five, 10 years from now is the how driverless cars will completely change how we think about parking and traffic,” he said. “This will help Oakland’s prominence and this will help Emeryville, and some other East Bay cities because their traffic is so bad.”

Source: San Francisco Business Times

What does this mean for Bay Area real estate and for Bay Area moving trends? It means that location will stop mattering as much. A two hour commute isn’t so bad if you can sleep or work through it.

It will be a while before people start leaving the urban centers for the burbs, though. While Google’s cars are legal, it’s not expected that they’ll be widely embraced for another few years, but it might not be too early to snap up the relative bargains in the suburbs before everyone else catches on.