As much as I dislike some of the big tech cos and the TechBros working there bragging about the free food all the time, I still believe a company should be able to decide if they want to offer food or not.
Restaurants were unable to turn a profit, so they lobbied successfully and now everyone beside them got a worse outcome.
This is economy 101. A highly visible group of people lobbied hard (in this case the restaurants), and they put a small burden on everyone else to have their issue resolved.
However when you calculate the outcome, the burden on everyone else is bigger than the gain that the highly visible group got out of it. Everyone is worse off.
Or rather, 'economy 101' is that anyone with enough leverage, will use monopoly powers in one area, to take control of an adjacent economy.
American Oil empires were not built on some new amazing way to get at oil, it was because some had control of the railroads, and charged their competitors a little more to transport therefore putting them out of business (through aggressive consolidation).
The FB cafeteria example is not a very good one admittedly, but an alternative could be 'they buy up all the restaurants in the area and make them exclusively available for FB staff'. Which they very well could do, and it would then seem kind of crazy, no?
Economically speaking, it would be 'above bar'. After all, 'free market', right? If neighbourhood residents want to eat in a restaurant, screw them, they can go across town!
We live in communities, not economies.
The city ordinance is stupid, but the motivation is not.
Ironically, these are 'rich people problems' ... the kinds of things that happen when little dots of wealth blow up and there is a huge economic inequality, even if most people are 'kind of well off'.
(On the other hand, in societies where everyone is poor, there can be peace.)
i think it has more to do with dignity.
Those two are the same thing. Dignity == not being at the absolute bottom end of a dominance hierarchy.
Since human society is very complex, there are many somewhat orthogonal dominance hierarchies. That revered old statesman in your esoteric music fandom might be a school janitor somewhere. Those local-star music scene musicians might get ushered into a billionaire's party through the back door of the kitchen, then be strictly warned not to touch any of the food.
to be treated with dignity would be for the billionaire’s staff to escort the low status individuals with grace and provide food for them in a way that affords them respect while satisfying whatever other constraint which precludes the billionaire from involving these persons in the main event.
to risk ruining my point by being petty: sounds like a billionaire with no class.
Tribes constantly warred with each other, because they saw that as a good way to get resources.
Of course, during the middle ages it was feudalism, which was not centralized at all, it was stratified. Classes, classes, classes. Haves and have not-s. The haves of course arranged things in a way to keep what they have, so they come up with rights for themselves, which were very much not egalitarian ones.
And of course there's the real centralized one-party autocratic setup, where instead of noble houses openly competing with each other, people just play the subtle game of extort those who are under you, which makes inequality even worse.
This is a relatively recent phenomenon. To have oppression, there has to be enough of a surplus for a ruling class to extract. For many 10's of thousands of years, our ancestors didn't have the means to have a surplus.
Also, we have many examples of local societies which are egalitarian, but embedded within a larger, distant feudal hierarchy. In some of those cases, there can be very little violence directed locally, though in other cases, people can be so low in society, again, their only hope for advancement is violence.
Where there have been increases in the general standard of living, it has been through the adoption of new technology and the increase of trade.
If Facebook is willing to pay substantial amounts of money for a restaurant, while at the same time guaranteeing customers to those who refuse to sell, it would seem the number of public restaurants in the area will explode.
The 'wealth inequality' issue is obviously a problem, so the government mandates that 'all citizens get meal chits' as part of their comp - this is to ensure that Monegasque folks literally are not priced out of food.
But everyone gets them - bankers included (the uber-rich don't work ...). So you go into a restaurant there and these dudes in $5K suits are pulling out their 'meal cards' to pay for stuff, it's kind of funny.
But it has to be that way.
If facebook et. al. has set up their own 'shuttle bus' system, there's no reason to believe they won't set up 'private restaurants' around town to get around the city's regulations, which will sure to cause even more angst and obvious concern.
Better to just let them have their cafeterias ... but the weird kind of inequality thing is not going to go away.
If there are ten restaurants and one of them is pretty much the default choice for 25% of the people, that leaves the rest of the restaurants with an effective 75% of the market, which shrinks their customer base quite a lot.
The City already tries to foster community by forcing people to share space against their will, via public transit. It's a dystopian hellscape, not a community. You can't just build those by force.
This is Civic Center Station, which serves Twitter, Uber, and Square. No amount of tech worker foot traffic is going to clean up an area if the government isn't willing to police it.
Video doesn't even show the worst part, but helps to illustrate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gT5NULvRSk
The array of policy, economics, and values that make Germany and Japan work so well are not going to magically appear in an American city just because you try to cargo-cult some of their second-order effects. Public space in those countries is genuinely good; you don’t have to ban alternatives to get people to use it.
And policing will just drive the problem somewhere else. What America desperately needs is a new approach to a lot of issues that goes way beyond ever more police, courts and jails:
- drugs and addictions (now that enough white middle class people suffer from heroin or worse, something hopefully will be done beyond the "put them all in prison" attitude that caused the War on Drugs in the first place)
- mental health resources, whose lack of is directly affecting or even causing much of the homeless population
- medical resources
 San Francisco welcomes the downtrodden from everywhere in the world; it's not enough to solve poverty in the US to clean up SF's streets; you must eradicate it from every inch of the Earth.
Only problem I've encountered on public transport on 5 continents is the occasional drunk group singing on Friday night.
That's shocking to me. Get city policy in there if the commuter cops can't handle it.
NYC cops be in there removing people stat if this happened here.
Cool, so start-ups lose a potential hiring perk to the incumbents.
(Does anyone know the story behind this bill? Which politicians and restaurants supported it? I’d like to avoid the latter going forward.)
1) There are more people in the areas with offices who are around to eat dinner. Therefore, restaurants aren't so dependent on the lunch money of office workers.
2) Restaurant workers can get cheaper rent and therefore restaurants can find staff more easily.
Your position is something like, “Man this Donald Trump guy is f’in horrible. Give me a list of all Americans so I can remember to never talk to them again.”
The position is more like: "Man I hate Donald Trump, I'm going to boycott his daughters clothing line"
All of the tech workers should boycott the restaurants involved in this political move. Tech workers in the bay area control most of the volume of high-end consumer spending (ie a lot of workers making a lot of money). It would decimate the targeted restaurants instantly.
They could just do something similar to what colleges do:
- increase salaries just a bit
- but the increased salary goes to a food card
- employees can't easily turn this into cash
- you swipe it and "pay"
- the company is essentially paying for the employee's food
Money changes hands, but no one is at a net loss than what a free food perk would cost.
It's not about the money.
They literally cannot fathom that people in tech are trying to squeeze the most from every minute in the day.
Just. Do. Not. Get. It.
Don't do that. It hurts. You.
If I stop for lunch, I stop, and don't get back into it.
So I eat lunch at my desk. It's not bad for me. 10 hour days to accomplish half the work is bad.
Once I get into productive mode I'd rather not get out of it until I'm finished, and leaving my desk for more than a few minutes, or having to concentrate of complex tasks like talking to someone at a counter, is sure to do that.
Tell that to the farmer who's crops go bad.
Not everything is the same.
Instead you can spend that time being both grateful and productive
If you really want to avoid leaving the building at all costs, there is also another option: ordering your lunch and let it be delivered.
So, a half-hour round trip.
None of them included giving employees perks in the hope that it will increase their productivity.
By "their", you mean the company? Because employees receive the same salary no matter their productivity.
Slavers also fed their slaves, property requires upkeep costs.
No, in fact they typically do not. Drop your productivity to zero and see how your salary holds up.
Non-financial compensations are taxed in many countries, I really don't see what's wrong here.
(It is worse for the employee, of course.)
If it's the former, then I think it's still "free food".
If it's the latter, then it removes much of the benefit of the company providing the meal -- keeping employees on-campus and near their desks longer. I like my company's free food since it's easy to walk down the hall and eat a quick lunch between meetings, no need to take an hour to head off campus to a local restaurant. I don't care that the food is "free", but that it's fast and convenient.
Example: Currently living in Switzerland, which has "Lunch cheques" . Employees don't pay income tax on their value, employers don't pay social security on their value, local restaurants/takeaways get more customers.
Or is that a conspiracy theory?
So, conspiracy theory or not, it's very plausible that the large established players had a hand in drafting this law.
>The measure has the support of Gwyneth Borden, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and other local merchants.
It seems suspicious that before the legislation is even introduced exceptions have been carved out for the existing big companies.
At most, they would make a website with a little game featuring an animation of the city burning down, then giggle and and share it with each other, all the while deaf to the irony that, in reality, they already are burning it down; they just can’t see it. The disconcern behind your whining threat exerts, on the broader population, a blunt misery of slow-burning economic torture the likes of which the tech worker’s comforts will not afford them to perceive. A real fire would at least offer closure and hope amidst a new beginning. This one just keeps blistering.
A bit of decency from some of the best paid employees in America would go a long way. This is not what I see in the arrogant, know-it-all attitude of most Googlers though.
But sometimes it looks a lot like collusion.
There are only two possible solutions: take the action up several levels financially and get extremely bellicose; or wait until the owners of the political class in SF age out and lose their control.
I don't think catering startups that coordinate with local restaurants (e.g ZeroCater and Chewse) will be affected.
On a slightly off topic note, when your company gets to cafeteria size are you really a startup any more?
Awesome idea, thanks!
When I worked at a company that offered free lunch, the company used it to help build rapport and camaraderie among the coworkers. It's one time during the day when the entire team can sit down and eat lunch together and get to know about each other, which is not possible through Slack nor via meetings. Just hanging out with everyone on the team, talking about the latest Marvel movie or Star wars, etc. It was also about convenience as well as reducing stress and decisions on an already-busy day.
If the team still wants to do lunch together everyday at an outside restaurant, it would not be easy, especially the logistics, which would be a nightmare -- getting everyone to agree on one place where everyone likes their food, finding a place that can seat the entire group at a single table, finding transportation / assigning driver/riders if it's beyond walking distance, and having to divide the check afterward (or Venmo), etc. Just for a meal that lasts no more than an hour, top.
I stopped bringing my lunch to work and go out to eat specifically to get a break from my coworkers. Not that there is anything wrong with my coworkers, but I really enjoy the alone time in the middle of the day where I can just sit back and read.
Miracles do happen.
The upstream comment even said free lunch "promoted" camaraderie, not "is the only way it can happen."
Rationally, there’s no inherent reason that free lunches promote “bonding”, and no inherent reason that teams that go out to lunch won’t bond. It’s just cargo culting and post hoc rationalization for people liking free food.
Intellectual rigor is alive and well on HN.
It is not nightmare, it is pretty easy thing to do and friends groups in work do it almost daily without any problem.
It worked fine most of the time and you don't eat with the same ppl every day, so you get to know colleagues from neighboring teams as well...
The problem MV's fixing is the perception that highly-paid tech workers have become a class of their own, isolated from the larger communities in which they live and insulated from negative social consequences in the communities around them. When you get paid a high salary, eat at work, only socialize with coworkers, have all your logistic needs taken care of by your rich employer, and only go home to sleep, it's really easy to feel like your city's problems are other peoples' problems. In other threads on HN, you will see plenty of mudslinging about tech workers who step over homeless people on their way to work or kick neighborhood teams off a public basketball court so they can play a company game.
The Village at San Antonio is supposed to be exactly the type of mixed-use, mixed-income development that urban planners salivate over today. It's got a mix of luxury apartments and affordable housing over street-level retail, connected by pedestrian thoroughfares to the office space that Facebook is about to rent. There are over a dozen restaurants within walking distance, ranging from Chili's, Veggie Grill, and Sajj to The Counter burgers to upscale sit-down places, along with a Walmart, a Safeway, and a Whole Foods. The whole point is to fix all the problems with tech insularity and wealth polarization that everyone complains about here.
OTOH, the cynic in me says that it won't actually do a damn thing about this, and that tech workers will stand around talking to each other and ignoring the locals in line for Veggie Grill while the service workers around them eat at the Walmart cafeteria. And the only effect will be to reduce efficiency for people who could otherwise just grab free food, take it back to their desk, and get back to work. A lot of the point of the free cafes at Google was to cut out the friction of deciding where to eat, walking there, and paying, and instead just focus on the job we had to do.
There's no free lunch. Sometimes it turns out our desires are contradictory, and the flip side of intangibles like community engagement are reduced efficiency and heavy-handed regulation.
As an outsider who never lived in the US, I think they are already well beyond saving. At least this isn't my idea of a "downtown". It's not like you can somehow rekindle social diversity in those cities at this point. Outside of tech workers, almost nobody can afford living there. I believe most of these restaurant employees wouldn't mind working at a private cafeteria instead.
I remember thinking, when initial development started around 2010/2011 and all the news was about traffic on 101 and Google shuttle buses making life hell in the Mission, that it looked like the solution was to bring the City to Mountain View rather than bring all the workers from the City.
They get away with this because the area was basically barren strip mall & parking lot before redevelopment - it was the old Sears store, plus Shockley Semiconductor (which I think had been turned into a small grocer that nobody except tech tourists visited), plus a few other old-economy retailers that were going bankrupt. There weren't actually any neighbors to get mad, plus I doubt they'd shed a tear.
I mean, yeah, it's unfortunate for those who won't get free lunches anymore (I'm currently part of the group that does, although I'm not in the bay area) but it's not like you deserve free food as a perk any more than any other random worker. If it were my company inflicting the decision on me after a record earnings call, yeah, I'd probably be pretty pissed off. But a city trying to make sure a corporation in a public, mixed use space doesn't insulate itself too much from the surrounding economy? There are pretty obviously people who benefit and people who are harmed, but it's not like this is the end of the world, those employees just aren't getting a benefit 99% of other employees in the world don't get either.
There are more techies moving to the bay area every day. Sooner or later those numbers add up and we've got ourselves a real voting bloc.
There are a surprising number of tech employees who actually do favor smart urbanization, community engagement, and mixed-use developments instead of holing themselves up in their employers and writing code. Tech (and particular Big Tech) has become a lot more extroverted than the days when it was kids who got bullied at recess because they spent all day playing with computers rather than learning social skills. (And IMHO, this is one reason why the industry has become less innovative lately - there are fewer programmers willing to hole themselves up with a computer for years until they solve a hard technical problem, and fewer managers willing to sponsor that kind of work. The Erlich Bachmans are outnumbering the Richard Hendricks.)
As bad as the current supervisors are, the former ones were a hundred times worse as they opposed ALL development.
And because of the changing demographics of the city, the worse politicians were voted out. Which basically proves my point.
And as demographics continue to change, the political power of this voting Bloc will continue to improve as well.
Maybe in another decade this increase in voting power will allow us to vote in politicians who are actually decent, as opposed to merely being less horrible than previous ones.
Yes, techie voting power has fought off the worst of the problems, but we can still continue to improve.
That's a lot of regulation to fix a perception. If this doesn't work, will they mandate friendship between employees and others in town?
> connected by pedestrian thoroughfares to the office space that Facebook is about to rent
Why is the city building large office space like this if desires strong interaction between people in town? Even corporate campuses in middle America build cafeterias once the office space is big enough. Food, gyms, etc. just make sense as something to make easily accessible -- nothing new here. What did the city think would happen?
If there's a market for people to dine out, you open a restaurant. If there's a market for people to dine in, you open a delivery kitchen or a catering company. Why does a particular set of dining out behavior need to get preserved? (And when did Chili's become a beacon of community preservation?)
It's not at all clear how forcing some software engineers to eat out for lunch will magically fix insularity or wealth polarization. Saying "hello" and "thank you" to a server at a restaurant is supposed to somehow make tech workers feel more in touch with their community (and I don't even know who decided tech workers, and they alone, are out of touch). Also have you been to Castro Street at weekday lunchtime? Free food or not, those restaurants are jam-packed.
> OTOH, the cynic in me says that it won't actually do a damn thing about this, and that tech workers will stand around talking to each other and ignoring the locals in line for Veggie Grill
You seem to be making a distinction between "tech workers" and "locals". If they live and work here, aren't tech workers locals too?
> while the service workers around them eat at the Walmart cafeteria.
I wasn't aware Walmart had a cafeteria. That aside, because cities around the Bay Area have decide not to allow any new housing ever, these service workers are ironically not "locals". They have back-breaking commutes from far-off places. They should be locals but they mostly cannot afford it. Maybe if a more diverse population could afford to live in the Bay Area, restaurants would have a wider customer base and wouldn't have to resort to such coercion.
> the flip side of intangibles like community engagement are reduced efficiency and heavy-handed regulation.
Except that there's very little proof that people who eat out in a city have more "community engagement" (whatever that means). If the city is going for increased engagement from tech workers there's a million other ideas that are better. Here's some:
1. Build more housing so that tech workers can afford to buy in MV instead of renting or commuting from somewhere else (like South San Jose). Living in a place, buying property and raising a family there will deeply connect you to it - you'll care about the schools, parks, libraries, and swimming pools
2. Allow more mixed-use development instead of restricting it to places like the Village
3. Reduce parking minimums so that stores are closer together and more walkalble. Why is only Castro Street like that?
And I think I agree with your cynic. How many people who live in affordable housing are going to be going to the same restaurants for lunch as googler/facebookers anyway?
If you want people to care about a neighborhood, give them housing to live there. Or take a softer approach and tax cafeterias and use the proceeds to actually improves someone's lives.
On one hand, it might lead to higher wages being offered if you can't sell "free food" as a perk of employment. On the other hand, this makes me feel very libertarian and enraged that a local gov is trying to limit where I can get food. Currently I work in IT, and my employer has occasionally made food available with enough regularity that I stay onsite. I don't like having to hike back to my rental car, navigate to the venue, wait to order and pick up food, and suffer in what is usually a dirty public area while eating it. I acknowledge the insulation and welcome it. Often there isn't enough time to eat, so the whole experience is stress away from the stress of customer support. Sometimes I just don't eat if it means going outside. My work has me travelling a lot and it's difficult to r/mealprepsunday from a hotel mini fridge.
There has to be a better way to attract people with access to free food to local restaurants, and it's not this. If local venues are saying they're missing out on patrons that should be available then they should adapt to offering a corporate experience? Starbucks became much more successful when they became a spot for people with Macbooks to vegetate all day in.
You could have the company give an allowance to their employees to go out and spend it on local food, and then give the company a tax break for encouraging investment in said local venues (based on how much was spent). (maybe?)
As for other solutions - personally I'd love to see some form of vouchers + electronic ordering system where employees at local businesses could go online, select from the menu, have their employer pick up the tab (perhaps with some quota or auditing so you aren't always eating gourmet on the employers dime), and your phone beeps when your food will be ready in 5 minutes and you can go walk in, flash your employee badge, and pick it up. That gets a lot of the in-house benefits of higher efficiency and less hassle for workers, but also directs money to local restaurants and gives additional consumer choices for workers. It'd likely cost more for the company (who is paying retail prices rather than contracting with a catering company), but that's because the restaurants have more negotiating leverage when they're also open to the public and aren't held hostage by a single customer, which if you're in favor of consumer choice is exactly how it should work.
90% of this system already exists, too, between company credit cards, Concur or other expense-reporting software, online ordering for DoorDash/Yelp/etc, mixed-use developments, decent restaurants, food-is-done buzzers at sit-down restaurants, etc. It's just there's no integrated portal where you can eg. swipe your badge when you order instead of having to pull out your company credit card or get notifications when it's time to walk over.
Go online, pick food from one or two places, get a text when the food arrives for the office. My understanding was that it worked decently well, just was a bit expensive compared to bringing lunch from home (obviously) and sometimes the food got repetitive.
Every first Sunday of the month (Sundays were the only days people had off, as Saturdays were actually work day), people were required to get out, and help clean out the neighborhood in 'cleaning actions'.
If you didn't do it, you'd be reprimanded, and if you didn't comply you'd be sent into re-education class, on how community involvement was crucial to a good communist society. If you still didn't comply then you'd be sent off to some 'action' in some more remote area.
Anyways, this is not communist 'community involvement' level yet, but the government should have no say on a person's personal private time.
To fit the allegory of Communist Albania that you gave, the government would be have to be forcing tech workers to eat a minimum quantity of food at local restaurants every week.
That's not what they are doing. You are still free to bring sandwiches from home, or order Soylent online and get it sent direct to your office, bypassing the local economy entirely.
Zoning itself is quite a loud say from the government about what someone may do in their personal private time in their personal private property. For example, you can't run a bakery in your personal private time in an area zoned only for residential use.
Do you think zoning should not be legal?
The city of Houston has no zoning laws - you are free to build wherever, whatever, occupied by whomever, subject only to market forces and contracts. The result has been a sprawling, car-driven metropolis where to get anywhere, you need at least a 20-minute drive in a car. My sister lives in a development of over 10,000 people, all single-family homes spread over several square miles of drained floodplain. There is basically zero commercial or office space in the development; to get to the nearest restaurant or supermarket, she needs to get on the highway. Her husband has roughly an hour commute to work; she had a 45-minute commute when she was working. The highways are so congested at rush hour that you use privately-developed toll roads to get across town if you have the money.
There's also various absurdities like people being sold homes inside flood-control reservoirs, or sex shops next to preschools, or residential homes next to chemical storage tanks.
On the plus side, housing is really cheap - the same house that would go for $1.5M in my neighborhood in Sunnyvale (a 3BR2BA on 1/4 acre) goes for under $200K in Houston. My sister lives in a gorgeous 5BR4BA waterfront property that cost < $600K; you literally can't find anything for that price where I live.
Most of what you write here seems to confirm my point, with the exception of the zero commercial in your sister's development. Should we assume there is some sort of contract or HOA enforcing that? If so, I guess that isn't zoning, but it acts in largely the same way, doesn't it? Also, look at any other metropolis in Houston's timezone, and you'll find identical suburban situations. So maybe we can't blame the lack of zoning here? As I'm sure you're aware, in many situations zoning has been blamed for unmixed development.
It's possible that Houston might do some sort of BRT someday, which would help a great deal with commute times. BRT could even use some of those horrible un-American private roads. Already, the commutes you describe are better than those in lots of cities with extensive public transit.
We're in Germany where this is taxed heavily. If you offer your employees free meals, this becomes part of their taxable income, so you actually have to give them a raise to even this out, and then you have employees that want to opt-out to get the hands on that cash...
I always wondered how Google Germany deals with this. There is a minimum below which it doesn't get taxed and specific items like coffee, water etc fall out of this, but it blew my mind the first time I was trying to set something like this up for our company.
There have been occasional attempts to enforce the law - IRS recently made noises in 2014/15.
The challenge is that it's taxable to the employees but hard to track and prove, it's for relatively little money per employee, and the firms argue that it's for their benefit to secure information/improve productivity/build cohesion...
Google can and will fight far harder than the IRS is willing to on this issue and the IRS isn't entirely sure that they'd win. The IRS can spend resources in places to make a much higher return with an almost certain chance of success.
So no effective taxes on meals.
To make it happen in your company, follow the Google and Uber strategy. Just do it and deal with the law later.
Your ability to pay any fines later may be different from Google's and the chance that one of your employees will call the tax office on you may be dramatically higher because Germany.
But free benefits are not considered income?
I don't see the difference between the two.
Health is the most tax advantaged, and then retirement. Comes from WWII era rules aimed to prevent wage increases.
I really hope Amazon's new HQ helps pave the way to start de-centralizing the tech industry from that one, overcrowded, and increasingly almost hostile spot.
The strips of bougie overpriced restaurants that haunt Palo Alto, MTV, and Sunnyvale are already getting it.
As a Bay Area resident my priorities are the cost of housing, cleaning our dirty streets and alleviating traffic congestion.
This is an example of progressivism gone awry. Solving the basics is incredibly important. Our quality of life is in decline (in the bay area) and this is the best our politicians can do?
Ah, but you see, it is also difficult!
"Dirty streets" and "traffic congestion" are big, messy problems, requiring careful planning, managing projects and contractors, adversarial factors, etc.
By contrast, passing laws that apply to corporations is so easy! They are generally law abiding, so you just tell them "no more free food for you!", and they obey.
Until, you know, they skip town and you are left with nothing. But that will likely happen after my tenure in the local legislative body, so my utility horizon is rather shorter term...
1. Businesses moving out of California, especially NorCal. Sergey Brin already said two years ago that he would not have started Google in NorCal today. He was right. There's a lot more interest in other locations, such as Austin.
2. Remote work, and fully remote virtual offices.
Personally I know a bunch of people who declined offers in the SFBay to avoid the pincer squeeze of impossible housing costs + highest tax rate in the nation. A friend of mine did the math and realized that downtown Manhattan (!) was more affordable for him than the Bay.
This stupid rule will not be the last straw. I do think it will deter companies from starting large complexes in MTV specifically, and SF if it passes this same rule.
It is however a sign of the arrogance and greed of municipalities, and their mistaken belief that they can just keep squeezing big tech indefinitely.
So cities have to raise funding somehow.
(This is also a problem with the way America funds schools. The US needs to figure out how to distribute tax dollars more equally - or at least figure out how to keep most of the country out of poverty while still building infrastructure that keeps city housing costs down.)
There are some worth reading, like Will Wilkinson, J Rubin, and T Nichols. But they're few and far between.
Google is expanding their Mountain View and building a massive new headquarters
Google is also expanding into San Jose
Apple just recently completed their spaceship campus
Facebook is massively expanding their Menlo Park footprint
In addition, they signed the largest lease ever in SF
Salesforce recently opened their new 60 story tower in downtown SF
And I haven't even touched upon continued expansion of Uber, Lyft (which opened a new autonomous division in Palo Alto), Airbnb etc.
Austin is a bit player in the tech scene. The only other alternative right now is Seattle.
Many talented people don't want to relocate for work, and companies are realizing that. Distributed offices are becoming more and more of a thing.
At one time Armonk, NY and Maynard, MA were the center of tech too.
It's will be a long slow death by a thousand cuts.
I'd recommend not moving to Central Texas, by the way. Water availability is going to be a huge issue as the population continues to increase. Cities aren't feeling it yet but the small towns on the fringes definitely are - and the issue will continue to spread.
My point was more that there's probably 8-10 metro areas that fall into the "second-tier", but Austin somehow gets pretty consistently thrown out as some alternative to the valley.
But the numbers play out a bit differently. In terms of VC investments, Austin is yes..second-tier (really 3rd, b/c NYC, LA, and Boston make a case for being the 2nd and everyone else is well behind them)..right there with Miami, Chicago, DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, etc. In other words...it's just a regular city that has an ok tech scene.
Not to say that VC money is the only metric by which we should judge, but it's a pretty decent barometer.
2. Been hearing that for thirty years, too.
Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t a breaking point, I just don’t think we’re there yet. CA might be willing to amputate a leg or a wing, but there’s too much gold in the goose to kill it all at once.
That's like saying "I was reading about government deficit 10 years ago, and look at it, it's still growing and we're still here and the deficit is even larger!".
It's a growing problem. California grows less attractive as more of these exploitative measures and taxes pile up, and the impact is noticeable. No NorCal location was in the shortlist for Amazon's 2nd HQ, for instance.
> Been hearing that for thirty years, too.
You've been hearing about fully remote virtual teams thirty years ago, before the internet really existed?
Maybe as some future prediction?
Sure, the Mother of all Demos showed off remote collaborative work in 1968.
...and was certainly an exciting futuristic demo, but unfortunately neither practical nor feasible with the actual widely available technologies of its time.
Hahaha. California is a very nice place to live, and very many people want to live here. Last year, California's economy grew so much that it took back its spot as #5 in the world...behind only the US, China, Japan, and Germany, despite having a population less than half the size of any jurisdiction ahead of it.
Most of that GDP is not related to the tech industry, which despite its importance to the Bay Area represents less of the California economy than manufacturing.
NorCal may not have been on the shortlist for Amazon's 2HQ, but LA was...LA and the Inland Empire also have a less severe housing shortage and are far more pro-development.
That's not really saying much given its population AND its land area. It should be performing right where it is.
However you measure it, California is outperforming other states and other nations.
Imagine bowing down to a state and ignoring facts. I never said California wasn't performing well. But in a pro-business country (far more than France), one of its biggest states, with its largest population, that is bigger than most countries on earth, why is it so shocking that their GDP is that high?
Yeah, pretty much. I’m saying it’s nothing new, and things are still churning along just fine, whether it is in reference to the deficit or CA. Nothing has changed, CA is still ridiculously expensive, as it always has been. CA taxes the shit out of you, as it always has. And jobs pay better, so one has to calculate if the added expense is worth it, as we always have. Will it ever change? In the long term, yeah, it’s likely. In the short term? I see no evidence that a change is in the making. Those gleefully predicting CA’s demise have been around as long as I’ve been alive, and much like TSLA shorts, they’re probably going to have to wait a while longer.
Yes. Remote access to centralized and/or distributed computing resources was a solved problem long before the internet showed up.
Most economists will disagree with you about the deficit :-)
It's not something we tend to think about on a daily basis, but it's a huge, growing problem that already has ill effects and may end in a catatstrophe: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/04/09/why-a...
Similarly, California got away with squeezing the "rich techies", but it keeps losing some of them, and if it's not careful, that will escalate. I can tell you about a bunch of my friends who all had great offers in Cali, and normally would move there in a heartbeat, but the combination of taxes + housing costs + other crap made them go elsewhere. Once a bunch of companies open HQs in other states (besides Amazon that will certainly not open HQ2 in California), this will become worse.
> CA is still ridiculously expensive, as it always has been.
Not as bad as this. If you lived in California for decades, as you claim, you know it's been growing worse than ever.
> Remote access to centralized and/or distributed computing resources was a solved problem long before the internet showed up.
Same deal: it's a developing process. Folks wanted to do remote offices for a long time now, and technology has improved steadily to enable this. Now we're seeing more and more remote teams. This trend will likely strengthen as the internet gets faster, virtual reality gets better, etc.
Which, I hear, is quickly catching up to Bay Area in terms of cost of living.
Now let's do SF!:
> As usual, the result is grim for San Francisco, since, according to CAR, a house in San Francisco now runs over $1.5 million on average.
That's almost x4 times more. Austin has some headroom still.
Moreover, don't forget taxes! California state tax for an engineer will be about 10% of gross. 0% in Austin. Quite a difference.
Surely this was foreseeable.
Probably the ones that chose to pick low hanging fruit (cue this article) rather than actually start to plan for long term solutions to big (existing) problems.
Congestion and housing problems solved.
That is not true. The rule applies to all new offices in MTV. The Facebook office just happens to be the first new office that was completed with the intention to provide free food, since the law passed.
(Applying a rule like that to Facebook alone - on what basis, exactly? - would be discriminatory, unusual, and likely unenforceable.)
> The SF rule is on proposal stages and is unlikely to pass.
How do you know that?
It has some serious backers, and similar rules passed in nearby municipalities. What evidence do you have that it will not pass in SF as well?
They haven't decided whether to expand to cover Google's expansion
For the SF rule, it is only proposed by Peskin and Safai. And Peskin himself said on twitter that this is just a proposal.
> the city prohibits companies from fully subsidizing meals in the Village, and the rule could spread to other Bay Area cities in the future.
So no, it doesn't apply "only to Facebook", it applies to new office complexes, in this particular case the complex called "the Village". It would apply to any companies within that office complex, and potentially any new complexes and offices built in MTV going forward.
> For the SF rule, it is only proposed by Peskin and Safai. And Peskin himself said on twitter that this is just a proposal.
You only need one lawmaker to propose a new law. Plenty of laws in the book were proposed by one or two lawmakers initially.
> Peskin himself said on twitter that this is just a proposal.
Not sure what tweet you're referring to. The one I've seen seemed very serious and even militant:
> Announcing new leg to ensure on-site tech cafeterias don't continue to chip away at our vibrant neighborhood commercial corridors & small businesses. We're not the suburbs, we're an urban city with a vital local economy that corporations say they want their employees to support
He's saying it's even more necessary in SF than in MTV...
No, it, based on the except you point to, applies specifically and only to “the Village”, not to new complexes generally (and the Village is not a pure office complex, by a mixed use one, and this rule seems specifically designed to make the Village attractive to restaurants.)
> You only need one lawmaker to propose a new law.
But you need a majority to pass it, and I've not heard any sign that the other Supes have expressed any interest.
Peskin will need a majority from the BoS and London Breed on his side to pass this legislation
With more traffic caused by people leaving their campus more than start/end of day, people will need to account for more traffic. This may cause people to move further out or pay more of a premium for housing in close proximity.
If these companies knew ahead of time that this was not allowed, they may not have built their campuses so sprawling or may have avoided these areas altogether.
As far as I understand, the prevailing policy is doing the exact opposite on all those three.
They still get the tech voter and now they will endear some small progressive cause.
But, yes, it's utterly incomprehensible. It's reductionist. Like I said before, ban Uber, ban MUNI, they are taking jobs away from Pedicabs and Taxi drivers...
Anyway, it's not Robots (yet) prepping food at the company canteen, they have to hire workers to do the cooking, serving, etc. So it's more or less a wash. Only diff is probably company cafeterias mostly try to ensure workers have a legal right to work in the US.
It's true that basically all elected officials in SF are Democrats, but in practice there are two semi-official parties: "progressives" and "moderates." The supervisors pushing this, Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safaí belong to the progressive wing, which recently got a majority on BoS with Rafael Mandelman taking Scott Wiener's old seat.
While pretty much united on national political issues, the two groups differ on housing policy (generally, moderates want to build more, progressives less), homelessness, and the proper attitude toward the tech industry (the progressive wing tends to blame it for many of SF's problems).
How did the people who oppose pretty much all progress, came to be named "progressives"?
I'm sure this shot to the top of the priority list not out of some moral imperative, but because someone somewhere was losing a buck, or could make a buck if this passed.
I don't know Peskin and there are many honest hard working politicians, but safeguards like disclosing conflicts of interest aren't terribly burdensome for good politicians but can help generate legal consequences for the bad ones.
This is just skimming low hanging fruit and a free distraction from real problems they either cannot fix or don't consider worth their time. plus they win if the "elitist" complain about having to give up their free lunch
I can understand why some are outraged but this is the old adage of, I didn't speak up when they came for the .....
Businesses within the Area paid $7.6 million more in payroll tax in 2013 than they did in
2010. While some increase would be expected because of the economic recovery, the
Area generated $7.1 million more in payroll tax than it would have, if it had grown at the
same rate as the rest of the city from 2010 to 2013.
Also based on payroll tax filings, there were 61 more businesses in the Area in 2013 than
there were in 2010. Again, some increase would be expected, but there were 32 more
than there would have been if the number of businesses in the Area grew the same rate
as the rest of the city from 2010 to 2013
Taxable sales, which reflect the health of neighborhood-serving retail businesses, grew
more slowly in the Area than the rest of the city from 2010 to 2013—a 10% increase as
opposed to a 25% increase in the rest of the city. Had taxable sales in the Area grown at
the same rate as the rest of the city, an additional $90,000 in sales tax would have been
An examination of trends in commercial rent, residential asking rents, and housing values
in the Area revealed that, while increases have been rapid since the exclusion took effect,
similarly rapid increases were seen in the rest of the city, and there was no appreciable
difference between the Area and the rest of the city in the growth of commercial and
residential rents, and housing prices.
On the flip side of your rage are people who run local businesses having to shutdown, so local officials of Mountain View saw a way to respond to this.
But, yeah this is stupid.
As a Bay Area resident this should be par for the course in terms of the stuff coming from the municipal governments in the area.
Except it's actually an example of crony capitalism gone...well, perfectly according to design, actually.
There's nothing even remotely progressive about restricting all other businesses just to boost business for a particular industry.
Whatever it is, it isn't addressing the important basics to improve our quality of life.
This just means the next massive campus complex will not open in Mountain View. Big profitable companies and their hordes of tax paying employees will go elsewhere, and definitely will not be supporting MTV's local businesses.
Welcome to the wonderful world of unintended consequences!
"We don't serve free food to our employee, we charge $0.000001 per meal".
Plus it can't be the exact same entity, so they'll have to "partner" with some vendor to create and operate the restaurant.
Access control is vital in a location like a tech company's headquarters. With hundreds of random food trucks coming and going every day, such control will become impossible.
Finally, food trucks are notorious for cutting corners when it comes to food quality, especially any health concerns. I would now want myself or my employees eating from food trucks all day, every day.
But when The Village was zoned, it was explicitly done with street-level retail for a wide variety of restaurants. There are over a dozen restaurants within a 5-minute walk of Facebook's offices, plus a Walmart, Safeway, Whole Foods, and produce market, all of which have ready-to-eat meals.
Something that's left out of a lot of the news coverage of this: it's not a law but a development condition attached to the particular property that Facebook is occupying. When a real-estate developer wants to develop a piece of property, there's a complex negotiation with the local municipality (or county, if it's in unincorporated land) that includes things like contracting for water/sewer/garbage services, how to ensure there's adequate police & fire coverage, how the town will build new roads to handle traffic generated from the property, what's the impact on schools & community services, and what types of dwellings & permitted uses are available for the property (you can't build a skyscraper in the path of SJC airport, for example, nor can you build a chip fab on residential land). Written into that contract is the cafeteria clause under discussion here. While I have some doubts about whether this is a good thing (I've got another comment here where I expressed mixed feelings), it's a contract and not a law, and obviously Facebook has felt that the restriction is not too onerous for the building to be worth occupying.
Perhaps originally they thought they could inspire enough of a public outcry like that seen in this thread to get the rules relaxed eventually... with their recent PR troubles that probably won't happen.
It does make more sense for a development like the Village, but I'm still concerned about the encroaching and escalating intrusion of local lawmakers in a benefit employers wish to provide their employees.
It is just that they are paid by Google instead of individual employees.
As for lunch, my company only provides it once per week. On the one day we do provide it, it is catered, and thus requires local labor. On the other days, I go out to get it. My favorite sandwich shop just closed; my coworker's favorite Korean place closed with them. If I had to guess, I would suspect they simply couldn't sustain themselves with the rents as they are. Their prices were decent. Other nearby eateries with more of a, for want of a better word, hipster feel to them charge significantly more for less food; I avoid eating there because over the course of the entire year, it represents a non-trivial amount of money. But if it comes to it that they're the only ones that can survive, I'll probably just abandon eating out altogether.
As it is, I'm making plans to abandon SV altogether primarily due to the issues mentioned by your parent: the ever declining quality of life in the Bay Area. Will that be a boon to the local market?
Google pays a lot less to provide an employee with a nutritious, healthy meal than the same employee would be paying for a less healthy meal in your typical local restaurant.
So this law will create more local jobs in the short term... except the next Techplex will not be built in MTV, which will lose it far more local jobs than it gained.
Employees should be allowed to bring food from home to eat at their desks if they want, and that is obviously terrible for jobs in local cafes and restaurants.
People cheating on their income taxes to the tune of thousands of dollars a year each in free lunches are now more likely to comply with the law. This seems like a step in the right direction.
Still, it's unlikely that food service and retail workers in these cities are having an easier time making ends meet. The article you linked acknowledged that the cafeteria workers were making well above CA minimum wage - do you think the same can be said for all the restaurant/shop employees in the bay? Is there a reason we should be more concerned about some service industry employees over others?
Do you have a source for your claim that people are cheating on their income taxes to the tune of thousands of dollars a year?
Hit the nail on the head.
All this concern for a relatively tiny number of tech cafeteria workers who are actually in much better shape than the vast majority of food industry employees. McDonalds pays the absolute minimum to its legions employees, and has to give them booklets that try (and fail) to do the math of how they can survive on their meager income. Meanwhile, bit tech pays their workers much better, but let's pick on them since they're evil!
they pay well, better than restaurants, and they have better hours and benefits
So... vote when you can!
This will continue to be a thing as long as the upper-middle class isolates themselves through Uber / Lyft, fancy restaurants, and private shuttles. What's ironic is there are lot of upper-middle class people who live this lifestyle who aren't in tech but still shit on tech. Tech gets the bad wrap because it's the narrative. We have to start proving people wrong.
It doesn't help that the most visible techies, like Peter Thiel and Vinod Khosla, abuse their tech-derived riches in blatant attempts to remake California into their own fantasy playlands. (This is a problem unique to tech--non-tech billionaires tend to do things like build museums.)
That might be because
1. Not as many people move there right out of college to work in the tech industry. This is true in the Bay Area, which means you'll find most of your friends at work
2. The tech industry population just isn't as large in those places (bar maybe NYC). You kind of have to consider a wider friend pool.
Having said that, I'd love to make friends in the Bay Area outside tech - I just don't know how. I'm not sure many people make new friends at restaurants or coffee shops though, so I don't see how this new legislation makes tech workers "engage" with the community or whatever. The only engagement happening is between the tech worker's wallet and the restaurant's till.
I've given money to and advocate for Moderates and I was an elected Hillary Clinton Delegate.
Personally I encourage you to let @AaronPeskin know how you feel on this matter. He is the "progressive" who introduced this nonsense.
This policy is just the public relations part. It’s particularly designed to appease local small business owners without having any measurable effect on the corporate profits.
This is as moderate as it gets. There’s nothing “progressive” about this nonsense. This is exactly the kind of nitpicking contortions moderates perform when they are trying to address social disparities without social solutions. The issue is systemic and the solutions must be as well. The only decent solutions here are broad corporate regulations like anti-trust for prevention and much higher taxes on the wealthy.
This is precisely a result of politicians appeasing local business owners with a public display of affection rather than a real progressive agenda. What could be more moderate than that?
San Francisco's "progressivism" has really turned me off because there is just so much failure of policy here. And while we should be talking about anything other than tech cafeterias, we are talking about cafeterias.