Welcome to the Bay Area Business Park Catalog

Posted 1/26/07, Part of the U.S. EPA's “Transforming Office Parks into Transit Villages” study

We have identified 17 Bay Area suburban major employment centers, 13 in Silicon Valley.  The boundaries of Silicon Valley centers are drawn somewhat arbitrarily as many touch each other.  The 17 centers are mostly traditional suburban office parks with many tech workers.  Exceptions to traditional office parks include: a) Emeryville is an edge city with more than 1MM square feet of retail and extensive residential, b) Stanford University encompasses the University, the regional Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford Hospital, and downtown Palo Alto, c) SJC is the San Jose airport major activity center, d) Walnut Creek is a suburban downtown with dense employment.  We have excluded major employment centers in the urban downtowns of San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose.

17 Bay Area suburban major employment centers:

  Workers City Typology Campus-style?
HBP 20,777 Pleasanton Mixed use edge city w/ sharp boundary portions
SSF 32,445 SSF Major employment center w/ sharp boundary not really
SRP 24,763 Palo Alto Named employment center w/ sharp boundary landscaped
Bish 23,894 San Ramon Named employment center w/ sharp boundary landscaped
emery 17,952 Emeryville Mixed use edge city w/ sharp boundary  
stan 39,204 Stanford Mixed use edge city w/ sharp boundary - incl dntn PA  
shore 25,103 Mtn View Named employment center w/ sharp boundary landscaped
moffet 33,837 multiple Named employment center w/ sharp boundary  
whisman 25,836 Mtn View Portion of Silicon Valley job glob   
greatam 47,836 Santa Clara Portion of Silicon Valley job glob   
nFirst 82,801 San Jose Portion of Silicon Valley job glob   
237680 47,612 Milpitas Major employment center w/ a Great Mall, sharp boundary  
oakmead 75,701 Sunnyvale Portion of Silicon Valley job glob   
SJC 21,359 San Jose Airport major employment center  
Cup 32,115 Cupertino Lots of Apple jobs, residential. A big mall. Fuzzy border.  
ibm 15,904 San Jose Named employment center w/ sharp boundary landscaped
walnut 26,935 Walnut Creek Fully mixed use edge city w/ sharp boundary  
total 594,074      
      campus style: man-made pond w/ fountain  

Each center has at least 15,000 jobs.  The 17 centers support a total of 594,000 jobs. SOV commute mode share varies from 85% to 65%.  The Stanford University job center stands out with 16.8% of commuters biking or walking to work. The other 16 job centers clump between 4.9% and 0.6% bike/ped commute mode share. Stanford's programs to put housing by jobs is shown as a singular success in the high-mileage world of suburban job centers.

Commute distance appears longer than was previously thought.  A mean "crow flies" one-way commute distance (Stanford Research Park) of 14 miles translates into roughly 18.2 driving miles.  Other commute surveys report Silicon Valley commute distance of 14 miles.  The CTPP3 data used in this EPA study uses a larger sample than other studies and has less sample bias.  This result may point out that the high income workers in job centers live farther away than typical suburban workers, or it simply may point out that other phone surveys underreport commute distance, because higher income workers are more likely to hang up on tele-market researchers.

A very limited print run of a 17x11 "coffee table book" of the Business Park Catalog went to press in March of 2007.  The table book provides a series of maps on two facing pages, creating 17x22 maps of labor sheds, etc. 

Rave Reviews for the Biz Park Catalog:

  • Cities21's excellent work is a compelling read for all planners struggling to present flow data from CTPP. I was impressed with the quality of maps, and concise presentation. I hope to see many more such case studies using Census data for analyzing commute sheds using CTPP data.
    - Nanda Srinivasan is an Associate with Cambridge Systematics Inc. He co-authored the 2000 Journey-to-work Trends Report. Mr. Srinivasan has published several papers using Census Transportation Planning Package and National Household Travel Survey.

1. Summary spreadsheet, BABP_summary.xls, comparing business parks by:

  • overall commute mode share
  • number of workers
  • median/mean commute distance
  • income distribution
  • county by county commuting (see separate worksheets)
  • TMA/shuttle bus (see TMA worksheet)

2. Detailed office park Commute Maps, Aerial Photography, etc.: click this link

Palo Alto's office park (Stanford Research Park - SRP) has the following "commute shed" or geographic distribution of residents who work at SRP: 

  • SRP houses HP, SAP, Tesla, Better Place, etc.
  • In the map, brown 1/5 mile grid cells contain 1 person, blue cells contain 2 people, green cells contain 3 or 4 people, yellow cells contain 5 to 18 people.  Red lines are selected commute bus routes.  The black rail line is Caltrain commuter rail.  Thick blue-purple highways designate HOV lanes. 
  • Jobs: 25,000
  • Commute Mode split: SOV: 80%, Carpool: 11%, bus: 2%, rail: 1%, bike/ped: 3%
  • 47% of workers live within a two-mile bike-able radius of a Caltrain commuter rail station.  
  • 28% of workers live within a five-mile radius. 49% live within a ten-mile radius 
  • One-way average commute distance is 18 miles, longer than the county average (wealthy tech workers have longer commutes)

3. Compare biz parks by commute distance distribution: _Commute_Dist_summary.xls

4. Caveats:

  • CTPP3 2000 data is not perfect and doesn't claim to be.  More information on CTPP3: 
    • CTPP3 web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ctpp/dataprod.htm
    • MTC CTPP3 web: http://www.mtc.ca.gov/maps_and_data/datamart/census/ctpp2000/ 
    • For County by County commute analysis, CTPP3 mode share data for counties with less than 2,000 employees commuting to a business park is not intended to be accurate.  CTPP3 modifies commuting counts to protect personal privacy.  Such county mode splits should only be used to obtain a "general feel" for the types of commutes.  For instance, for long commutes from Solano County to SSF, you may notice that carpooling seems to be the most favorable way to handle this long-distance commute.   
  • Census Tract boundaries do not always line up perfectly with major employment center boundaries

5. Location maps and boundary selection: see this link