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Today’s introduction comes to us from Thomas Fuller, the San Francisco bureau chief.
Is Silicon Valley’s seemingly unstoppable economic engine finally starting to slow down? Tech companies in San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 700 jobs from January to February and tech employment has dropped by 3,200 jobs since hitting a peak last August, according to Ted Egan, San Francisco’s chief economist.
Overall it’s hardly a picture of an economic downturn in the Bay Area. Bridges and highways are so packed with cars it feels like rush hour all day long. Unemployment in San Francisco is a rock-bottom 3 percent. Yet there are signs that after six years of tech-driven economic expansion, the Bay Area has hit a plateau. We talked to Mr. Egan about what’s going on. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
Q: Is tech still the locomotive of growth for the Bay Area?
A: The tech sector has slowed way down. For most of the time since 2010 we’ve seen tech growing faster than the rest of the Bay Area economy. That’s beginning to reverse. Construction is still growing fantastically at 7 percent. Financial services are growing at 3 percent and education at 4 percent.
Q: What are the weakest spots in tech?
A: Venture capital has peaked and has been going down steadily since 2015. A lot of the employment in our tech sector is in companies that are not profitable. If they can’t secure new venture funding, some of them run out of cash. If we see a real downturn in the tech sector we could be in a situation where the U.S. economy is doing better than San Francisco’s.
Q: What about housing?
A: What I’m hearing from people in the housing market is that the upper end, the luxury stuff, is really taking longer to sell. The lower end is still healthy. In terms of rents, we hit a peak a year ago and we are around 5 percent down from there.
Q: No one would call San Francisco affordable just yet.
A: Average rents were $4,400 and are now around $4,200. Our housing prices are still far and away higher than any big city in the country.
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. [The New York Times]
Doug Mills/The New York Times
• A city spokeswoman confirmed that an unattended candle was the suspected culprit in this week’s deadly blaze at a West Oakland halfway house that killed four people and displaced more than 80. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• The fate of Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to raise more than $5 billion a year to fix decrepit roads and bridges lies with a handful of centrist lawmakers in the California Legislature. [Associated Press]
• Senator Kamala Harris opened a 2026 gubernatorial committee to store state campaign cash she is unable to use for the federal office she now holds. [The Sacramento Bee]
Andrew Cullen for The New York Times
• A judge in San Diego signaled he would approve a $25 million settlement between Trump University and former students, putting to rest a yearslong case that garnered outsize national attention during the 2016 presidential campaign. [The New York Times]
• Data released Thursday showed pedestrian deaths nationwide were at their highest number in more than four decades and that California was one of the states with the most pedestrian-related fatalities in 2016. [SFGate]
• Supporters of President Trump are calling on authorities to investigate violence against them under state civil rights laws. [Los Angeles Daily News]
• The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has begun an investigation into a video posted on YouTube that shows a deputy ignoring a call of a shooting while recording a personal message to his ex-girlfriend. [Los Angeles Times]
Jason Henry for The New York Times
An Uber executive accused of stealing driverless car technology from his former employers at Google is exercising his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, according to his lawyers. [The New York Times]
• A father-son lunch at Dodger Stadium is filled with hope and dreams of a World Series win. [Bill Plaschke | Los Angeles Times]
And Finally …
This weekend, a starring role for California’s central coast comes to an end on premium cable.
HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” set in Monterey, is stocked with postcard-perfect shots of gorgeous sunsets, rocky beaches and dream houses. Its final episode airs Sunday.
“The location speaks for itself,” said Mike McCarthy, Monterey’s real-life city manager. He said that the darker content of the show — a whodunit, with story lines including sexual assault and domestic abuse — did not trouble him.
“It’s an interesting show that happens to be set in a beautiful location,” he said.
Gregory Alpert, the location manager for “Big Little Lies,” said that many of the homes seen on the series were actually located in Southern California, where houses are more likely to be set directly on the beach. But he said that the atmosphere of Monterey matched the show’s mood perfectly.
“Its pretty magical, but it can be also treacherous, especially when that fog comes in,” Mr. Alpert said. “And I think that’s the underlying theme of the show, that in this otherwise idyllic setting there could be all this treachery that’s just under the surface.”
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California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.