What Would it Take to Get Tech Companies to Move Jobs Out of the Region and Is This a Good Idea? | Invest & Innovate | Steve Levy | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

Invest & Innovate

By Steve Levy

E-mail Steve Levy

About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

View all posts from Steve Levy

What Would it Take to Get Tech Companies to Move Jobs Out of the Region and Is This a Good Idea?

Uploaded: May 18, 2019
This is a very popular idea on many Town Square blogs.

Personally I do not support this proposal and I will explain why below.

But the main point of the blog is for posters to explain how they expect to pull this off.

Here are three pieces of background information.

1) Companies are free to move now and other locations are already free to provide incentives. Obviously this is not working to the satisfaction of posters so something more is needed.

2) Most large cities in the region are trying to attract jobs. Count in San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Mountain View, Fremont, Menlo park Sunnyvale and Santa Clara to name a few. So residents who want companies to move jobs away are fighting strong headwinds already.

3) Many large tech companies are planning Bay Area expansions even though they are free to move to less expensive locations. That would seem also to be a major obstacle.

To their credit many of the “get them to move” crowd recognize that incentives would be needed.

Okay, we know a bit about how incentives work. Wisconsin offered Foxcomm a package of tax incentives worth $4.5 billion for 13,000+ direct jobs and there would be some additional indirect jobs. New York offered Amazon upwards of $2 billion for a similar number of jobs. In both these cases the companies were initially interested, which seems not to be the case here.

So in 2018 there were 4.3 million jobs in the region of which a generous count for tech jobs gets to around 750,000.

So posters who want tech companies to move jobs out of the region, what is your plan? Probably moving 25,000 jobs would not be noticeable given that we have 4.3 million jobs now. Even moving 100,000 jobs hardly changes the picture.

If Wisconsin laid out $4.5 billion of taxpayer funds for 13,000 + jobs, what do you expect the tab to be for 100,000 jobs? 300,000 jobs?

So posters who want this, how much are you willing to put up yourselves? Do you want Palo Alto to chip in taxpayer dollars to give incentives for Facebook to move those jobs to Tracy? How is this supposed to work? Where are these $billions in incentives supposed to come from?

I personally do not support deals like the Foxcomm or Amazon deals. I think they rip off taxpayers.

So the first job for posters who want companies to move jobs out of the region is to tell us where you propose to get the $billions in “incentives”.

I do understand that the rapid job growth of the past five years has increased traffic and put pressure on rents given that housing has not kept pace. It is also true that Bay Area and peninsula job growth since 2000 has averaged 0.6% per year equal to the national growth rate hardly a "massive" growth rate.

I know also that the job growth has brought major positives and that there are solutions to the challenges that are less costly and better than bribing companies to move even if that were possible in sufficient numbers to make a noticeable difference.

Since 2010 the unemployment rate has declined from 10.3% to 2.5% in April 2019. The number of unemployed residents has declined by 300,000. In addition 100,000 to 200,000 residents who had dropped out of the workforce rejoined and found jobs. Much of these gains were related to the tech surge.

Much of the added traffic at commute time was existing residents getting jobs again.

These gains supported large property tax increases in the region and were a large part of surging state revenues, which by the way allowed state K-12 funding to increase faster than in any other state in recent years. Local school and city revenues have seen strong growth though surging retirement costs have kept much of the funds from going into services.

If you want to blame companies for creating jobs that put 400,000 to 500,000 existing residents back to work, I am not with you.

If you want to blame these companies or workers for commuting to work and making your traffic more troublesome, I am not with you.

If you do not want to take any personal responsibility for helping to solve the challenges of growth, I am not with you. I think this only works if residents and businesses and the public sector work together on “we are all in it” solutions.
What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

 +   10 people like this
Posted by Carrots and sticks, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm

@Mr. Levy,
It's hard to have a conversation about this against your clear biases (and some information that isn't accurate in context). Are you claiming that Palo Alto and Mountain View do not have appreciably more jobs here than they did 20 years ago?

The companies brought a lot more people into the area causing a great deal of degradation to the lives of people living here, without adding anything positive to offset it. San Francisco has gone from 15% African American residents to 5% in the last 10 years, amid tons of housing being built (which doesn't create affordability in a demand job center anymore than it did in Hong Kong).

In no way would I want to pay companies to move away. That would not work, because the companies wouldn't invest in the places they go anymore than they invest in here. They just expect the public to pay for everything. That is our nation since the '80s. This place has been expensive for many decades, yet companies still want to be here.

We don't need more jobs here, we need fewer jobs here. Stanford is a major employer that will also always produce innovators who want to stay here. We are better off being a place they can start, and then move away from.

No, the answer has to come from the state and even federal level. The world has become more crowded, but we still have the same number of cities, and fewer desirable ones (because of overdevelopment of some and dying of others). The large-scale public disinvestment of the last 30 years (laissez faire economics) has meant there are fewer places the companies want to go.

They need the public amenities to attract their workers, do business, and generally have all the kinds of people they want in the labor and people pool nearby.

The answer is instead of focusing on incentives for companies directly, to invest in revitalizing cities in places around our state (and nation) that want to be revitalized, and where it makes sense relative to the natural environment (and global warming).

The world is changing, we should not be laissez faire about the negative impact of everyone piling into one place, including the safety and national security concerns.

What would it take to revitalize four or five cities? Well, it depends on the city, but it starts with a certain amount of infrastructure. Nice places with a good natural environment and good infrastructure and city services, plus arts and entertainment, attract people who want to live there. (It would me.) Usually a good university helps -- is probably indispensible. I would love to see Stanford put its money behind its own education department and let them create an undergraduate education that would attract the kind of learners they only claim they want for the 21st century. That would bring in smart young people who get out of school and want to stay (because the natural environment and infrastructure are so nice).

There are colleges and universities that could use the investments. Cities losing people that would like to turn that around. Large "empty" swaths of this state and nation that would make a great place to revitalize or grow a new job center. You can't do it by bribing companies, you do it by creating the conditions that make people want to go there (which will naturally include affordable GOOD housing), and then the companies will follow, especially if they are taxed here to pay for the actual cost of their overcrowding to the region.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on May 18, 2019 at 3:11 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ carrots and sticks

I think I got your point. You want public investment to make places outside the region attractive for companies and workers to move toward. Is that correct?

It is actually true that the region does not have that many more jobs than 20 years ago. As I said (and this is what I do for a living) the 2000-2018 regional and national job growth rate was the same--0.6% a year. It is certainly possible that for PA and MV growth was more but this is a region I am looking at.'

While having fewer jobs here may appeal to you, we disagree on that. I think the job growth has helped a lot including making possible raises in the minimum wage.

My preference and also my guess about how large new public investments would be approved, is that they would target fixing our roads and bridges, expanding public transit, investments in poorer communities within our large regions and hopefully energy and water conservation projects, and not in an attempt to get companies to move.

Despite what you want, the large cities in the region want more not fewer jobs. This is a fact no bias here.

And I think helping poorer residents here with housing directly is a more positive and likely to succeed and certainly a more immediate crisis than some long term plan to invest $trillions to get companies over time to choose other locations.

We have a lot of people in the region now who could benefit from some public investment dollars here.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Carrots and sticks, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 18, 2019 at 4:15 pm

@Mr. Levy,
You are missing the main point. Investments here with a maxed out infrastructure will not create the kind of holistic solutions that investments in creating a few additional desirable cities will, when they draw down some of the demand here.

In case you haven't seen it, quite a lot of people want to move out of the Bay Area but feel they don't have a lot of options. If we invest in cities, that creates those options: good affordable housing for young people and older people to retire, good places to live for college faculty, good office space with educational opportunities nearby, etc etc etc.

Overbuilding here is just dumb and super expensive (at the public's expense), the same money would create options. Investments in our cities that need it is a much better use of public funds than ruining here by destroying what a lot of people spent their whole lives creating in order to pay for uber expensive entry level workforce housing for rich rich companies who should be moving where THEY or their workers can get the housing. There's no reason the public should be paying to ruin a place with an already maxed out infrastructure when they could by paying less to invest in places that would provide far more.

We have enough population and jobs. Yes, San Jose would probably benefit from some growth in some areas, and investment (by the companies who create the ills) to mitigate the negatives of that growth.

You are "missing" something really big in your analysis of jobs and growth here if you can look at the San Francisco skyline and the parking lot of the freeway into Palo Alto in the morning - or the beehives in Milpitas and Redwood City and San Mateo -- and tell me things are no different than even the last boom. You are only cementing the image of yourself as a less than candid party.

Do you seriously think raising the minimum wage helps in light of how developers have ratcheted up costs here? The overdevelopment has been negative, the companies have foisted many negatives, and I don't see any positives. Just the polluted air starting early in the spring is bad enough, and we could sit here for the next half hour going down the negatives. I'm not against jobs, this area has been a great center of jobs. I'm not against milk or corn oil either, but I wouldn't fill my home up to my neck with them. We don't need more jobs here, but we would benefit, as a region and as a state, if there were options.

That is the role the government really should be playing, investing in our citizens, in our future as a strong state and nation, in our cities. Not playing some kind of piggybank and handmaiden to a bunch of rich companies that don't care about the consequences of their growth and want the public to pay for their entry level workforce dormitories. Those people will grow up and want single-family houses, just like the yuppies did -- which is why Los Altos became a more exclusive place than Palo Alto (Los Altos used to be a better value because yuppies didn't want the yards). Surveys of millenials show the majority of them want single family homes, too.

My problem with your approach is that you seem to have an agenda, and you have blinders on about the big picture.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident , a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 18, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Crescent Park Resident is a registered user.

@Steve Levy. Thank you for writing this piece and “calling to action" those who would like the tech jobs to go elsewhere and yet, want “someone" else to make that happen.

@carrots and sticks. Feel free to give the mayor and city council of Pittsburgh a call. They've been trying to stop the “brain drain" from Carnegie Tech for years... decades? Some say they have the best AI department of any university. They've successfully enticed, and continue to work with, numerous tech, companies to their fair city. Okay, so predominantly gray city (from cloud cover - mills closed in the ‘70's). It's sunny in January though - when the cloud cover is gone and the skies are a brilliant blue. But then it's cold. And snowy.

Yet, people still want to come to the Bay Area... why? No. Not the weather. For tech people it's not the company, it's the opportunity to do MORE with the company you signed on with OR with another company/startup. For non-tech people? It's the salary AND the opportunities. I've talked to more than a few healthcare therapists (respiratory, radiology, etc.) who have told me that they make almost double what they would in Tracy or even Santa Rosa - with better hours. Their plan? Ten years commuting to pay off the house. The same is true for all types of labor. Come here. Work. Go to community college. Make a better life for yourself and your family.

And, despite the traffic, congestion and other problems that have emerged in the last 30 years, I am grateful and happy that I live in a community that offers opportunities.

What do we need? Not just more housing, but public transportation as well.

When did we buy our house? 1984. We've, yes, worked very hard. And we've also benefited from the “success" of our community and we know it. The value of our house hasn't increased just by our own hard work; it's because of the success and hard work of our community. And we are grateful.

We need to invest in affordable housing and in public transportation. I want our community to grow and thrive; not stagnant.

I wish my two best friends hadn't just moved to Oregon and Texas respectfully this past year - for all the reasons you hear. But, I'm grateful I can visit them and experience different communities.






 +   5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on May 18, 2019 at 10:06 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Stepen,

I agree that moving the companies out is not a good solution becasue they are getting public funds to do so from the people trying to get them to relocate.

I just find it rediculous where corporations want and are given public money to get them to move their operations to other cities.

Google made a profit of about $40 Billion dollars in 2018. Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

Facebook made a profit of about $22 Billion dollars in 2018, Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

Apple made a profit of about nearly $60 Billion, Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

Intel made a profit of about $20 Billion. Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

The sum total profit of these alone are $142 Billion dollars. THIS IS PROFIT. AFTER TAXES.

If these groups are good coporate citizens, why not take 5% of that profit and donate it to build the housing that is lacking in the area? That would be an annual $7.1 Billion. Now lets say it costs $360,000 to build an apartment unit in the area based on the TERNER CENTER report, that would fund 19,722 units of housing annually.

It is reported that there is a shortage of housing in Santa Clara County of 58,870 units.

If that was done the economic equilibrium could be safely accomplished in 5 years.

Such an increase would result in the rent reductions becasue of the greatly increased inventory. This is not even "Rent Control"

Why can't this happen?


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Carrots and Sticks, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 19, 2019 at 12:16 am

@The Business,
"If these groups are good coporate citizens, why not take 5% of that profit and donate it to build the housing that is lacking in the area? "

Because we are maxed out on the infrastructure. Because this is a semi-arid area and global warming will make it worse. Because once you get beyond a certain point, more density actually becomes less efficient as resources have to come from further and further away. Because this many people means problems that get more and more expensive to try and NOT solve. And because letting our nation have too few more concentrated job centers makes us more vulnerable and less secure than if we have more.

We are having the same arguments people in Hong Kong have had over the decades and they never solved the housing affordability problems despite building by transit and having the greatest transit system in the world. People still cannot live near their jobs and spend as much time commuting as people in LA. That right there is a tragedy. Building more will not create affordability, because the demand side will change, too.

The companies are getting public money if we overdevelop here, too. The reason investing in other cities is a better solution is because the public money goes to revitalizing cities that need it, to holistic solutions that will help both those places and here. The reason government has to take the step is the same reason companies packed in here in the first place -- they won't make those investments, we haven't been a nation with large corporations that believe they have to pay back for many decades. They're going to go where the opportunities are, have been created by the public expenditures. If we want real solutions, we must push the Democrat state government to stop making themselves seem as much lying puppets of moneyed interests as Republicans have been. There was a time in America when we invested in our national infrastructure, when we invested in cities and our people. Doing that again also happens to be the far better answer.

It's not a giveaway to companies, it's an investment in California cities that need it and is long overdue. People will go there first and only then the companies.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by The Business Man, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on May 19, 2019 at 8:46 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Carrots and Sticks you said:

“Because we are maxed out on the infrastructure. Because this is a semi-arid area and global warming will make it worse. Because once you get beyond a certain point, more density actually becomes less efficient as resources have to come from further and further away. Because this many people means problems that get more and more expensive to try and NOT solve. And because letting our nation have too few more concentrated job centers makes us more vulnerable and less secure than if we have more."

You have a point there, but at the same time the Single Family Home model for housing evolves away when cities and towns grow. The fact is that in this article I just read (Web Link) called “Housing crisis has Seattle weighing end of single-family homes". Yes the current layouts of the city are obsolete, and large parts should undergo a refit, as much as a half square mile at a time. So that roads are redesigned, land use is redesigned, and utilities and other required infrastructure like water and sewage is redesigned. The order of redesign should follow the path of the largest input-output areas first and systemically move down. Thus the areas should originate at the areas surrounding the highways and major input-output branches of water and sewage. You said:

“We are having the same arguments people in Hong Kong have had over the decades and they never solved the housing affordability problems despite building by transit and having the greatest transit system in the world. People still cannot live near their jobs and spend as much time commuting as people in LA. That right there is a tragedy. Building more will not create affordability, because the demand side will change, too."

You also have a point. But as long as the redesign I propose weighs significantly on achieving parity between workers and residences. Meaning that for every job allotment in a project an equal residential allotment is part of it. We can LEARN from their mistakes and not fall into the same problems. This is a problem I encountered when I played a simulator called Sim-City. Believe it or not, it does a good job in emulating civil engineering of a community. Especially when areas are encountering problems. You said:

“The companies are getting public money if we overdevelop here, too."

I respectfully disagree if they did as I previously proposed. The proposal does have significant positive advantage to them because if the cost of living in the bay area goes down, then they can use it as an opportunity to lower their costs. You said:

“The reason investing in other cities is a better solution is because the public money goes to revitalizing cities that need it, to holistic solutions that will help both those places and here."

I respectfully disagree again. There is no reason why a good corporate citizen can be a resource to revitalize the Bay area. In fact “Other People's Money" from other cities will in effect take business away from the Bay area. This will in effect start a downward spiral in the area. That is why I would hope that the Federal, State, and Local governments would stop getting involved with this kind of activity, in effect provide kickbacks to business to open up shop in their area. It is a race to the bottom in the end. You said:

“The reason government has to take the step is the same reason companies packed in here in the first place -- they won't make those investments, we haven't been a nation with large corporations that believe they have to pay back for many decades. They're going to go where the opportunities are, have been created by the public expenditures."

That model works only if the public resources are infinite, which they are not. That model works if you have a working population that is growing, at this time it is not, it is shrinking dramatically, According to the Census found here (Web Link)" in 2030 the maerican population will be that 1 out of 4 are an “older adult". Specifically: “America is graying. The nation's 65-and-older population is projected to nearly double in size in coming decades, from 49 million today to 95 million people in 2060. As a result, the share of people 65 and older will grow from about 15 percent to 17 percent between 2017 and 2020.". So with that in mind it looks like the idea that if it worked in the past it will work today or in future can be thrown out. You said:

“If we want real solutions, we must push the Democrat state government to stop making themselves seem as much lying puppets of moneyed interests as Republicans have been. There was a time in America when we invested in our national infrastructure, when we invested in cities and our people. Doing that again also happens to be the far better answer. “

No argument there. We simply can't expect to be a one pony show. The new solutions to a new situation cannot be using the past solutions. You said:

“It's not a giveaway to companies, it's an investment in California cities that need it and is long overdue. People will go there first and only then the companies."

Yes, but if they are not going to do it VOLUNTARILY, like the proposed action I described, the only other recourse is to make in INVOLUNTARY. I would think that theses smart people would see the long term benefits and take actions NOW.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Birds, a resident of Ventura,
on May 19, 2019 at 8:47 am

Birds is a registered user.

Here's a solution......Stop approving more building. No more construction forces companies to look elsewhere to expand. We dont have to pay them to move, they wont have a choice. And if they want their employees to telecommute instead, great. That alleviates the problem also.

Re number of tech jobs in the area. Is the restaurant supported by tech workers considered a tech job? It wouldnt exist without the tech industry. How about all the law firms, accounting firms, banking firms, PR firms, etc.that support the tech industry? I suspect tech influence on employment is far, far larger than stated in the article.

Re all the major local cities soliciting more jobs. Right, because thats what politicians and govt people do. More jobs means more tax revenues means that govt has more power/resources to expand, undertake pet projects, pay large pensions to govt workers, remediate the problems caused by too much employment. And look at who contributes most to campaigns....the real estate industry and business interests that benefit from continued growth. Try taking a poll in those cities and see whether the inhabitants actually want more growth.

Our housing problem will not be solved by building any reasonable amount of new housing. Manhattan has a housing problem also. Do they not have enough high rise apartment complexes? More housing in desireable locations will not appreciably reduce prices, it will just allow/encourage more people to move there (here).

We have a huge, welcoming, very livable country. Lets stop hollowing out the middle by having policies that encourage people to live on the coasts. Lets limit development, and market forces will cause companies to expand elsewhere.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Birds, a resident of Ventura,
on May 19, 2019 at 9:03 am

Birds is a registered user.

How about we facilitate/create a “sister city" that our tech companies can expand to. Reno? Redding? Boise? Work with local governments there. Put in place high speed rail, more plane flights between the two areas. Arrange for easy construction, permitting etc to build tech friendly complexes in those areas. Build up their local universities (through corporate contributions). Maybe ask Stanford and Cal to rotate some high caliber faculty through. Make it easier for companies to get H1B visas for employees who locate there. Think out of the box.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by MVresident2003, a resident of Mountain View,
on May 20, 2019 at 8:22 am

MVresident2003 is a registered user.

I cannot tell you the number of tech immigrants I have had discussions with who do NOT want to live here, who would absolutely love to live in a reasonably priced city where they can achieve the American dream of owning a home where they can raise a family. Indianapolis, yes! Omaha, yes! Columbus? Yes! These immigrants aren't under the ‘spell' that CA is the only place to live, quite frankly any of these smaller mid-country cities are a huge improvement over the cities most of these immigrants have come from.

@Birds has it correct. No politician or city is going to turn away business and yes, this needs to come from a federal level.

How is it that most everyone here bemoans the catastrophic issue of climate change then turn around and want to increase our traffic, overuse our infrastructure, further drain our resources? Complete and total hypocrisy.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 20, 2019 at 10:51 pm

The local tech titans have creating their own disincentives to being located here in the form of an overloaded housing market which their workforce has priced itself out of via the simple mechanism of supply and demand. The solution for a rational local tech titan would be what Amazon did at NYC--leave in a huff. Done.

portion deleted


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Love the Bay, a resident of another community,
on May 21, 2019 at 10:08 am

This thread seems kind of nativist to be proposing moving jobs away. I am a transplant to the area, drawn by the tech jobs. We're making a life here, putting down roots, having kids, the whole deal.

I find the notion of trying to get us to leave offensive. Sorry, but its a free country. Folk who grew up here or lived here longer have no more claim to the area than the immigrant still on H1B visa.

Sure, control the growth. Fix the infrastructure. But dont demonize the tech class.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 21, 2019 at 12:01 pm

>> Many large tech companies are planning Bay Area expansions even though they are free to move to less expensive locations. That would seem also to be a major obstacle.

These companies are here for one reason only: the large, extremely flexible labor pool that exists here. They don't want to do want HP did because they don't believe in the HP Way. HP had a commitment to employees and expected a reciprocal commitment from them. Not "lifetime employment" as a few big Japanese companies liked to talk about, but, "stability". Five or ten years, not five or ten days. In the gig economy, the "commitment" is limited to 2 weeks. Max.

>> To their credit many of the “get them to move" crowd recognize that incentives would be needed.

Employees don't need an incentive for stability. Anybody who is in a long-term relationship, has children, has children in school, is buying a home (house, condo, etc), etc., -- you know, what used to be referred to as "The American Dream" -- those folks don't need incentives. The incentives need to be for -employers- to build their offices along transportation corridors in linear cities. So that people can commute -to them-. Building housing at Caltrain stations is pointless if people have to commute by car on the other end to get to their employers.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 21, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Weekly Express/Town Square is still demanding me, a fully paid up subscriber, I think, (please let me know if I'm not) to type in a verification code. Grrr! I didn't have to do that in the good old days.

We can't ignore Steve. His point about the benefits...added revenue in our local coffers from all this seemingly endless business and employee growth in the Bay Area...has to be considered. But our quality of life has been severely impacted and so that has to be weighed against all the benefits. Let's hear from Steve about all his ideas regarding solving all the problems that this growth has caused. I want to hear his solutions to the traffic, parking, and infrastructure problems, and the usury rise in rental rates.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 21, 2019 at 6:39 pm

We are not alone. Our big neighbor to the north has the over-tecchied blues also. From today's Washington Post Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on May 21, 2019 at 8:36 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Gale Johnson

the point of the blog was to see whether any of the complainers actually had any solutions but I will answer your question at the end.

I have heard three suggestions

--stop building here
--plead with the companies to move elsewhere
--have government investments to make other places attractive

To me (even assuming some posters are well intentioned) a cross between "Lock her up" and "mexico will pay for the wall".

That is ineffectual scapegoating BS.

Last year the region added 100,000 jobs. Where it is legal (good question) I suppose individual cities can pare commercial growth.

But Gale you know that Menlo Park and Redwood City to the north and MV, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose to the south as well as SF and Oakland want more jobs.

So scratch that idea as a solution.

Companies are free to leave and other cities offer incentives. Some do move but we just added 100,000 jobs and as I said companies are looking to expand here welcomed by many cities.

So scratch that idea.

Finally some posters envision massive federal investment to maker other areas iof the country more attractive,

Let's say they are well intentioned. There are still two problems.

Even if you got the $trillions to make this happen, you are talking 10-20 years. Meanwhile you have wasted investments that could help people here now. they probably will not be happy.

And in a Congress that cannot even pass a $1-2 trillion investment package that will help people where they are now, how in heck would you expect them to pass a 5-10 times bigger package for Californians complaining about traffic that they wish would go elsewhere.

I think solving traffic here is hard--most growing areas have the same problems.

I would take the investment idea and go big in CA.

Fixing roads, expanding services like CalTrain and BART, perhaps shuttles.

Also investing in subsidized housing and expanding child care for poor residents--make the schools better so that places like PA are not the only good K-12 systems.

Since the they will/should thing is a fantasy, I suggest "help our own poorer communities first and invest in ideas and services that attack the traffic that will only grow over time unless we work together on realistic solutions.




 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 21, 2019 at 9:26 pm

>> But Gale you know that Menlo Park and Redwood City to the north and MV, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose to the south as well as SF and Oakland want more jobs.

Why do you think that is?

I understand why companies want to locate here: the giant flexible labor pool. I don't understand why the cities cater to those companies, since there are too many jobs here already. Why are those cities ignoring the best interests of their own residents?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 22, 2019 at 7:03 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Maybe it depends on the type of business - government or commercial. State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) has a main office in downtown SF. However they recognized that they could not attract new, younger people to work in that location so they have moved a lot of activity to outlying areas where younger people can afford homes. In the previous case they were providing BART tickets so the cost of commuting was reduced. In this case they could also lease newer buildings which were up to spec vs their older building which is questionable regarding earthquake safety.

If you are traveling in CA by air you will note that there are many buildings near airports which are subsidiary locations for businesses which require local contact. Also type of product produced which may require more specialized quality assurance requirements for approval.

I think Amazon's recent experience in New York tells a story - if you go somewhere do not expect a tax-free solution. Did not sound like Amazon was really stepping up to the plate there on improvement to the city in total. We can thank FB that they do step up to the plate and provide community support and upgrade for the location they are in. So each has trade-off's on value.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on May 22, 2019 at 11:49 am

An idea for getting big companies to relocate - a wave of referendums putting a HUGE per head business tax on big companies to pay for the impacts they are causing.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 22, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Grrr! Still having to type in the verification code? C'mon paloaltoonline...please help me out, a faithful subscriber!

@Steve...You have never given me the time of day before but you sure did on this subject! I notice there weren't many likes on your post and all your dismissive comments "So scratch that idea as a solution" just don't ring true and hold water unless you have viable solutions. The ones you offered will never fly with the big companies and the big developers, both benefiting from the growth but doing little to solve the traffic, infrastructure, and parking problems that us long time residents are suffering from. Some companies are making an effort to help out on the housing situation, but at what cost to the renter or condo owner...their employees? Those units won't be rent free.

I understand why companies want to stay here. I get it! This is brain central to entrepreneurs, startups, and Stanford PhD graduates and professors/consultants!

But putting that aside, any ideas you propose for solving the cost of housing in the Bay Area need to be vetted, scrutinized and challenged. Nothing has worked so far if you're talking about and serious about affordable housing for everyone, including the low and very low income folks that serve us in so many ways every day. Oh, I guess if every single family home owner, including all our CC members, built an ADU in their backyard it would start to make a dent. Try pushing that idea! It's been tried on me before but it didn't work! I love my backyard just as it is. Granny can live in my main house. I will take care of her and I know she will like it much better than having to live in a cottage in in my backyard.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 22, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Many assumptions have been made regarding HSR, Caltrain upgrade, and BART that are now bottoming out. I do know that a lot of management companies have their computers in facilities inland due to earthquake restrictions. They cannot afford to lose their data like they did in the last go around. Some government agencies have moved their software labs inland to Vallejo. Companies are making those choices since many of their personnel are coming in from Livermore, Tracy, etc. I think that they will be making those choices in order to provide housing to their younger personnel. But expecting us to pay them to do that is not on my list of things to do. They have to have good business reasons to move inland depending on what their product line is and how much they have invested in that product line. The inland areas are making a good argument for them to move in to new buildings with proximity to schools and shopping centers.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on May 22, 2019 at 3:50 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Yes, it's an excellent idea. We don't need to plead with companies to move. We need to stop doing their bidding for them. We need to stop solving the problems companies are creating. Tech companies need to be told in no uncertain terms that we will not keep developing housing for the workers they keep bringing in into the most expensive real estate market in the nation with the notion that the public will solve their housing needs. Once workers know they will not be able to find housing they will refuse to move to the area and the tech companies will develop tech hubs elsewhere, where they are actually needed, at the speed of light.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 22, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

It appears that Google is now buying San Jose. That is their choice. However smaller companies do have a better choice and are moving toward the east bay. Lower cost per square feet, proximity to lower cost homes, newer homes, calmer residential areas. And yes - families want to live in a house with grass and places for children to play. Companies are making those decisions. That is their job to do - no one should be paying any taxes to support that. Any attempt to have people update their taxes to pay companies to relocate is going to meet a lot of NO.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Pria Pudita, a resident of Mountain View,
on May 22, 2019 at 4:05 pm

'portion deleted'

I have followed these blogs for several years, and I've noticed an interesting trend. Female bloggers respond to negative comments, but male bloggers mostly delete them. As one of the latter, maybe you can enlighten me why this is so.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 22, 2019 at 4:31 pm

To stimulate some out-of-the-box thinking, consider -Mountain House-.

Web Link

15,000 or so people, and, virtually ALL of the people who live there who work commute somewhere else. Why do they live there? Affordable housing. Why do they commute? There are no jobs in Mountain House. These are people who are willing to live somewhere on the other side of Altamont Pass. Do you think they would be willing to work there also? For the sake of argument, let's say they work at Google. Do you think they would be willing to work at a nearby Google satellite campus rather than commute into Mountain View? Why not give them the opportunity? There is a lot of land down I-5 uphill of the freeway/aquaduct. Low-productivity ranch land. Why not develop some of the non-farmland for affordable housing and affordable office space, instead of trying to shoehorn another 8M jobs and people onto the Peninsula? A lot of people are already living in the area and commuting here. Most of those working here would rather work over there than commute. My cell phone says it will take 2 hours 20 minutes to get there from the Googleplex right now -- 4:30 PM.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on May 23, 2019 at 8:39 am

Annette is a registered user.

I don't hear a cry for tech companies to move away so much as a plea for all commercial development to be mitigated, particularly with regard to housing. We bemoan the cost of housing and the jobs:housing imbalance yet cannot begin to progress on improving that situation as long as we continue to increase the demand side of the equation. I think there's acceptance that growth and change are inevitable, but we've reached the point at which continuing to go "full steam ahead" as we have been only increases serious problems including homelessness, housing insecurity, and a dynamic in which people are paying far too much of their hard-earned income on housing. I also hear people calling for companies to grow where the growth is needed and can be supported. This does not have to be an "all here or nothing here" situation. Given all the advances in technology it should be possible for large companies to have an additional campus where the growth can be supported and reasonably priced housing can be built.

Also, the infrastructure issues need to be addressed. We have our own utilities but I think we are connected to the PG&E grid and PG&E has given notice of prospective 72-hour power shutdowns so that they can perform necessary (and long overdue) fire safety maintenance in the East Bay and North Bay. That could have some "interesting" implications.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 23, 2019 at 8:56 am

I saw a report on tv news about Hollister. It is 45 miles south of San Jose and they are building on average 500 new homes a year for the past few years. The impact on their schools and other infrastructure is hitting hard as the city can't keep pace.

So Silicon Valley is now extending down to Hollister. Shouldn't places like Hollister be a good fit for some high tech development?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In the weekend papers there will be the Real Estate Sections which show where all of the new housing is being built with maps, prices. Given the HSR may be limited to the Bakersfield to Merced corridor people should be looking to the connecting lines that circle back to Livermore and Sacramento. Companies that want to upgrade their facilities to new buildings, new housing for employees, new shopping centers, all in areas that have a reduced earthquake impact is all to the good. Many companies are having to deal with buildings in San Jose that were put up in a hurry. I watched a number of buildings being put up with slab concrete and cranes lifting those up. I know what happened to buildings during the Loma Prieta earth quake. The cost of managing facilities is a major cost to a company. Employees that have to be bussed in is a major cost to companies. If a major airport hub is put in the Livermore area - which has been discussed - then the reason to be in SF or San Jose will diminish and become less cost effective.

The Governor did not actively support the SB50 bill so I suspect that he is listening to all of the builders who are putting up all of those new homes. Looking at the state in total there will be more advantages to moving into central state.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by PA resident, a resident of College Terrace,
on May 24, 2019 at 1:02 pm

This one is easy. Stop approving development for all the tech companies until they present us with a proposal to ameliorate the problems their unrestricted growth has inflicted on the local communities. Moving jobs out of the area is one of them. Do not tell me that they cannot figure out how to do it because I know that all of the them already have branches in other parts of the state and the country. If something isn't done it's going to be faster to walk to work on the roofs of the cars stuck in traffic on 101 than it is to drive. Although at that point, all of the city and neighborhood streets will be jammed as well.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 24, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Your tech companies have moved part of their company effort out of the area. Companies that have to access data immediately in the event of a disaster have moved their software labs and data inland to computer farms -Vallejo, Rancho Cordova, etc.

No Company that is up and running on the stock exchange is going to have their data trapped in the bay area in a building that employees cannot get to or has major issues. When all is said and done it makes more sense to move the whole operating centers inland. People that have to invest in facility cost should be seriously evaluating the cost savings to all concerned to move inland. The Merced section of the railroad will eventually extend around the back side and funnel up to Sacrament or south to SF from some point where Amtrak and Ace are co-located.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 25, 2019 at 8:11 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Confusion here - first there are tech workers which we are trying to attract, then there is low-income housing - which by definition are not tech workers. Mixed arguments on who the housing is for, then mixed argument that implies everyone is suppose to be taxed for this. Or - if low-income housing imploded on the scene then there are less people to provide taxes but more people who require some subsidy.
Talk today in papers of "regional planning" - of course from a SF assembly person. Of course the city of SF is in dire straits since the homeless zero in on that location than fan out due to overcrowding on the streets. If you are trying to attract tech workers then they are looking for some long range plan for families and children. If that is who you are trying to attract then that is the housing that needs to be provided. And companies that want to attract top talent recognize that the vicinity of housing needs to be attractive and clean. And if you are trying to put in a base camp for people who cannot navigate the employment system due to low skills then the companies are going to move out because they cannot attract top talent.
Each company is going to reach some point of value if on the stock market that will demand that they show good performance. When they reach that valuation then they will have enough ability to move out to more advantageous locations. Google is remaking San Jose but most companies will not have enough band width to accomplish that goal - or want to. More companies will be moving into the central locations when all of the transportation links are completed. We are not going to pay them to do that - they will want to do that because their cost of doing business will be cheaper and they will have more room for expansion.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Carrots and Sticks, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 25, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Making government pay to redo perfectly good infrastructure in a perfectly good place so that companies can basically destroy it to get the ability to put in more housing for their entry level workers is what is BS.

Building more will not reduce prices. The demand side is not static, and in this place, the minute there is even a slight dip, investors pull things back up.

Costs are being foisted on everyone NOW, in the horrible pollution, the cost to opportunity and time because the horrendous traffic (that no, you can't fix by spending gazillions in the most expensive place possible to redo the infrastructure), the homelessness, displacement of residents, displacement of retail making for a resident-serving business monoculture, the costs of schools and public works, etc, for the additional residents.

I and friends still don't have gardens since having to let them die during the last drought. Who pays for that? It made me sick having to let my vegetable garden and trees die (my main hobby and something that contributed to the life and health of my family) while big construction projects just up the street were dumping water down the storm drain to make buildings to bring in more water users.

@Stephen,
You seem not to understand the suggestions that have been made, but I'm seeing a pattern in your posts of a lack of ability to think holistically.

We can agree on taking the investment and going big in California. But the investments will have to be holistic civic investments in towns that could otherwise not grow into their own. They would have to look at how you "fireproof" a place for its intended growth. How you connect to other communities and services for residents and business. Communications infrastructure. Education.

Even investing in some SoCal cities that have hollowed out because of overgrowth and become dilapidated -- Downey area, for example -- but also creating towns (where this is welcome) that have completely modern infrastructure, communications, etc.

There would need to be an end to the magical thinking about housing. Even in Europe with traditionally smaller housing spaces, as places became more prosperous, people look for single-family homes. There needs to be a good mix -- including high-density housing, but done right, such as in many European cities where it is done cognizant of views, safety, space, air circulation, transportation, etc.

And I think there would need to be a recognition of the value of the natural environment, entertainment, good education resources, etc.

Our nation and even our state are very large still relative to the population, and thinking holistically about the future means expanding the number of desirable job centers. That is the worthy public investment, and all of the public investments we would do hear that area drop in the bucket would go way, way further if we made them to increase the number of job centers rather than just having such reactionary tunnel vision and being manipulated by developer-advantaging rhetoric.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 25, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,

>> Confusion here - first there are tech workers which we are trying to attract, then there is low-income housing - which by definition are not tech workers.

No confusion on my part. "We" don't need to attract any more tech workers to Palo Alto, or, anywhere else on the Peninsula. "We" are too gentrified already. Stop attracting more tech workers here.

But, beyond that-- we don't need to attract any more -cars- to Palo Alto or anywhere on the peninsula. No place to park them, no place to drive them. There is affordable housing available beyond Altamont Pass. That is where new tech jobs should be going. (But, not on good farmland, please. Plenty of marginal land available-- no need to use prime farmland.)


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 28, 2019 at 5:48 pm

A recent NPR story mentioned that the median home price in Columbus, OH is $250,000. Given that Columbus is the capital of a populous state and the home of the Ohio State University, a major first rate institution, I'm wondering why Facebook and its lesser cousins aren't hustling their operations and workforces over there on their own volition, no artificial incentivization needed.

My college econ class (also at a major first rate institution) stressed that economic actors always act rationally, which is why economics can exist as a science. So why aren't our local economic actors doing the obvious rational thing? If their decisions aren't rational and hence predictable, there's no point in trying to incentivize them to move to more employee-friendly areas.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Kolkata Escorts, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Jul 3, 2019 at 1:41 pm

This post is great post. i am lucky for read this article post. thanks for sharing us.
Web Link


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Legends Pizza Co. replaces Palo Alto Pizza Co.
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 2,556 views

Premarital and Couples: 10 Tips for the Holidays
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,311 views

What is a "ton" of carbon dioxide anyway?
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 2,209 views

Do city officials ever consider giving taxpayers a break?
By Diana Diamond | 17 comments | 1,124 views

HIIT
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 955 views

 

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 26 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away more than $7 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. When you make a donation, every dollar is automatically doubled, and 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.

DONATE HERE