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Bay Area cities are cracking down on free food at tech companies (businessinsider.com)
324 points by fluxsauce on July 26, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 514 comments



This is one of the most stupid policy I have ever seen in the bay area (and there are a lot of stupid ones over here).

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.


To be fair, it's not quite 'economy 101'.

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'.


As it turns out, poverty doesn't cause crime. It's relative poverty that causes crime. Basically, if people are low down enough on the dominance hierarchy, they feel like they have no hope of getting anywhere, then why shouldn't they start acting up?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3XYHPAwBzE

(On the other hand, in societies where everyone is poor, there can be peace.)


well, wealth creates a market opportunity. when everyone is poor, there is no market opportunity.


Obviously, we don't want everyone to stay poor. At the same time, we don't want certain people to be so low on the dominance hierarchy, that they think violence is their only alternative.


i don’t believe it has to do with position on a dominance hierarchy.

i think it has more to do with dignity.


i don’t believe it has to do with position on a dominance hierarchy.

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.


being treated with dignity hasn’t nothing to do with one’s social status.

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.


Low social status has inherent indignities.


If you're in a society where everyone is poor, there is not peace, there's extreme violence being applied by a government that is responsible for everyone being poor (it's not just a subtle thing for everyone to be poor, that requires an incredible amount of persistent violence and rights denial by a central authority with overwhelming power). You're just swapping one type of violence out for another.


There's no need for a central power for that.

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.


If you're in a society where everyone is poor, there is not peace, there's extreme violence being applied by a government that is responsible for everyone being poor

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.


Or maybe it's the other way around - crime causes poverty.


Crime can absolutely produce a bad feedback loop to a community, but I would love to see more research on what causes what. We can see that countries that become a lot richer and keeps wealth inequality under control has a connection with drops in crime, like in Australia for example. However, I don't think drops in crime caused the resource boom there and I don't think Detroit's crime rate caused the Japanese and German economies to become more advanced and outperform the American auto industry.


> an alternative could be 'they buy up all the restaurants in the area and make them exclusively available for FB staff'.

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.


In Monaco, there are a small number of 'Monegasque' i.e. actual ethnic people from Monaco - they are just 'regular folk' - not like the bankers and millionaires ex-pats that make up the most of the actual citizenry.

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.


Would you say this situation in Monaco is kind of like "universal basic income"? Has it caused any issues?


No, because the meal chits are paid by employers. No job, no chits. Moreover, it's a tiny, incidental cost. More resembling the American healthcare system (in terms of how it's paid, not in terms of cost). Also, the scale is so small ... there are 20K citizens there and only a couple thousand actual Monegasque, they literally are 1 or 2 degrees of separation from one another and 'the government' if you can even call it that. Literally Google serves more free lunches every day in their cafeterias than are served in the entirety of Monaco's restaurants and kitchens.


Not if most of the people in the area, or even a decent chunk of them, work at Facebook.

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 other customers are still there. Facebook's office is replacing old retail space, which is not much used on weekdays either. This will only increase traffic to those restaurants even without forcing Facebook to send all its employees their way.


>We live in communities, not economies.

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.


It's hard to imagine your local city bus is so unpleasant to be called a dystopian hellscape.


While I was a BART commuter, I walked a gauntlet of slumped-over hard drug users, sprawled-out homeless people, human urine, and feces every day. Fortunately, I've only seen people drop their pants and take a shit on the sidewalk in front of me twice. Missed a random stabbing on the stairwell into my station by about 5 minutes.

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


That's not an inherent problem of public transit. It's just a symptom of failing to take care of poor people in your society. Try taking public transit in a civilized country like Germany or Japan.


We don't have this problem in New York. From an outside perspective at least San Francisco seems to be a uniquely fucked up place in this department.


That's because New York gets cold enough that trying this in New York will kill you through the cold. You'd freeze to death in the first year.


I didn’t say it was an inherent problem of public transit. But it is an inherent problem of compelling people to share space in San Francisco. The library, for example, is a similar story.

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.


I have, in fact witnessed someone defecating beside an U-bahn track in Germany. It may be less common, but it still happens.


there are untreated mentally ill people everywhere, just like there is poverty and corruption everywhere. It's a matter of scale & proportion.


No, it's a symptom of lax policing and lax justice system.


> No amount of tech worker foot traffic is going to clean up an area if the government isn't willing to police 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

- housing


And until we discover and universally [0] implement that "new approach," public space will be avoided at all costs by those who can help it.

[0] 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.


What's worse than heroin? I thought it was the most addictive thing we knew.


carfentanil. 50 000 times stronger than heroine. (allegedly.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COduXp6Cw3g


What matters is effects per dose, not effects per gram.


It matters if you want to smuggle the stuff.


Which nobody was talking about.


Fentanyl


Perhaps move out of the third world city you live in and move to a developed one?

Only problem I've encountered on public transport on 5 continents is the occasional drunk group singing on Friday night.


I've been to third world countries and they were much more civilized than this.


> video: "... the city's jurisdiction ends when you head down those BART stairs."

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.


I always thought that force would work pretty well to build a dystopian hellscape.


The economy 101 angle here is that this is a tax write off for most businesses, so these free meals not only disrupt local food markets but are subsidized to do so.


A pretty big nitpick, but the world is infinitely more complex than anything in an 'Econ 101' class would be able to actually explain. 101 level classes often simplify things to the point of uselessness.


That's why I took 102. They give you the straight dope there.


> The ban wouldn't be retroactive, however, so on-site food at companies like Google and Twitter would still be available

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.)


It looks like the Golden Gate Restaurant Association endorsed it[0]. I couldn't find a list of which restaurants are members of the GGRA, but the board of directors[1] includes people from the Bluestem Brasserie, San Francisco Soup Company, Ladle and Leaf, Extreme Pizza, Rose's Cafe, Wayfare Tavern, Souvla, Canela, Palm House, The Dorian, and Perry's.

[0] https://sf.eater.com/2018/7/25/17614570/san-francisco-corpor...

[1] http://ggra.org/about/board-of-directors/


If the goal is to help restaurants, wouldn't a better approach be to build more housing so that:

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.


Not in their SF.


Thanks, This is a list of places I will try to actively never go again.


The GGRA includes nearly every significant restaurant in the Bay Area. Hope you like cooking.

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.”


But he mentioned just the list of board-member-related restaurants.

The position is more like: "Man I hate Donald Trump, I'm going to boycott his daughters clothing line"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/07/24/ivanka-tr...


This is such a shitty move, FAANG should buy all of them, and then just shut them down for good.


No, they should react much worse than that. If you buy the businesses out, you're handing them a financial reward for their obnoxious regulatory behavior.

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.



>Cool, so start-ups lose a potential hiring perk to the incumbents.

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.


The benefit of a company cafeteria is mostly that you don't lose half an hour walking to a restaurant, waiting in line, ordering etc.

It's not about the money.


This. This is the giant disconnect between muni govnerment planners and tech.

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.


> squeeze the most from every minute

Don't do that. It hurts. You.


On a good day, I work about 5 hours a day. That's non stop, from about 10.30 until about 4pm, or from about 3pm to 8pm.

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.


Why not just skip eating for those hours? Digestion disturbs brain activity anyway.


Because it is hard to be effective at work when you are hungry


If you stop eating at a certain period every day, you'll stop feeling hungry.


Sometimes I'll get into 'productive' first thing, at 10amish. Other times it takes a few hours, so it's random.

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.


you might stop feeling hungry, but you'll then get mysterious headaches or a sense of confusion and frustration you can't identify.


Eat a lot before? 5 hours seems like very doable without hunger.


You can split the work and do the rest next day, there is no rush, really.


There is rush. Tell that to people who die because medical technology is delayed years. Or companies that fail or never materialize because the products take too long to produce and are too expensive.

Tell that to the farmer who's crops go bad.

Not everything is the same.


FAANG companies don't do any of those things.


But dying with overworking, depression and burnout is not a solution I believe.


5 hours a day doesn't sound like overworking.


While I'd love to only work 2 hours a day, it's not really feasible.


> The benefit of a company cafeteria is mostly that you don't lose half an hour walking to a restaurant, waiting in line, ordering etc.

Instead you can spend that time being both grateful and productive


You can order by phone or online in advance so you only have to walk to the restaurant to pick up your food. Maybe you don't like the walking, but then think again: it has been shown many times that some physical movement during the working day is beneficial for your productivity and health.

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.


Why are you assuming there even are restaurants near the office? A bunch of people getting into their cars and clogging up roads at lunch time doesn't sound like an improvement to me.


We’re talking about SF, so unless your office is in Bayview/Visitacion/deep Outer Sunset|Richmond there’s a restaurant within 15 minutes walk


> within 15 minutes walk

So, a half-hour round trip.


Yes, assuming a standard stride length of 0.7 metres and favourable traffic conditions, each lunch attendee could be expected to achieve 2900 steps. If travelling as a group there could be a minor social interaction every 4-10 steps thus leading to over 700 conversational actions which may help build camaraderie, strengthening team bonds and inproving the overall efficiency of the team.


But is not it really a one hour break? Besides eating, shouldn't you rest a bit during a day? I guess companies with onsite cafeterias trying to squeeze every minute from their employees.


Yes, it's not about the money. It's about slavery. Tech giants want their workers to spend as much time as possible near their working places. Even during their lunch time when people are supposed to get some rest from their jobs, walk to the nearby restaurant, maybe meet some new people instead of those faces they see every f'ng day. NO! Facebook, etc. don't allow any distraction. They wrap slavery in shiny candies and give it to employees who are so happy that they are bragging about sushi, whatever to instagram. The new regulations are going to break that and that's perfect!


I've read a number of definitions of slavery coming from a variety of political perspectives. Some go so far as to term hiring anyone who isn't independently wealthy to work for wages "slavery".

None of them included giving employees perks in the hope that it will increase their productivity.


They definitely want to increase your productivity, you are right. Your productivity drives their revenue forward. They are willing to contribute small amount of that revenue for giving you free food. But do you really want to be like that? Work harder for free food?


I don't think the purpose of free food is to incentivize employees to work harder. It's to let employees have lunch in the office without having to leave. As mentioned several times in the comments here, employees at companies that provide this option tend to like it.


it is to make employees have lunch in the office without letting them leave.


None of these tech companies make anyone eat the lunch and they certainly let employees leave. Do some research before posting.


Indeed they don't lock employees inside the building. Indeed it's far from slavery. It's wrong word. Rather it's exploiting of employees by using cheap tricks.


> 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.


> Because employees receive the same salary no matter their productivity.

No, in fact they typically do not. Drop your productivity to zero and see how your salary holds up.


If I waste less time at lunch, I can go home earlier. That's pretty far from slavery.


This is what I do. I spend negligible amount of time for lunch by bringing the food from home, quickly microwaving it, eating as quickly as possible. But, I am pretty sure that free food takes much longer. You want to try this sushi and that fried ice-cream..oh wait and Philz Coffee offers new beans..there are also your co-workers around and you chat with them endlessly.


What words would you have left if you ever encountered real slavery?


yes, wrong word, should have been used "exploiting" instead.


Problem is the employee is taxed on those funds AND those funds aren’t tax deductible for the employer like dine in (50%) or in house food (100%) so it’s nowhere near comperable.


It sounds reasonable that the richest industry/workers in the area don't get free perks at the expense of other taxpayers.

Non-financial compensations are taxed in many countries, I really don't see what's wrong here.


You just summoned the libertarians haha


Money paid to employees in this way is tax-deductible to the employer, same as the rest of the employee’s salary is.

(It is worse for the employee, of course.)


This would make demand less elastic, pushing restaurant prices up for the rest of us.


Absolutely. This will increase demand and raise prices.


Would this card be used at the company cafeteria, or at local restaurants?

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.


Convenient for the company.


And for the employees. I don't want to pack a lunch or go seek out a restaurant every day to pick up food. I know that eating at work means I'm spending lunch time in the office, but by spending less time at lunch, I can leave the office earlier. I'm sure it's a net-win for the company -- if an employee is in the office for an extra 15 minutes since they got a "free" lunch, then the meal is more than paid for (assuming tech-worker salaries)


Why jump through all those hoops, instead of stopping at "increase salaries"?


Depending on legislature, it can be a win-win situation.

Example: Currently living in Switzerland, which has "Lunch cheques" [0]. Employees don't pay income tax on their value, employers don't pay social security on their value, local restaurants/takeaways get more customers.

[0] https://www.lunch-check.ch/en


That's a "win-win" if you just take these particular employees and their company into account. It's a net loss for the state and the rest of its citizens however.


The title could almost be: "Large tech companies lobby local officials to allow them to offer exclusive employment benefits."


Is that what happened? Did large tech companies advocate for this?

Or is that a conspiracy theory?


I can tell you what I learned from my undergrad econ professors. Every time you see regulations that look like they hurt an industry, you will inevitably find the biggest player in said industry pushing for it. For large companies, the cost of compliance is a smaller percentage of their total costs than for smaller companies, and so it acts as a moat for smaller players trying to break into the industry, effectively reducing competition, and keeping prices high.

So, conspiracy theory or not, it's very plausible that the large established players had a hand in drafting this law.


I admit this is pure speculation. There are mentions in another article[1] that some restaurant associations supported it:

>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.

[1] http://www.sfexaminer.com/supervisors-move-ban-workplace-caf...


If they tried to take the cafes away from existing tech employees, they would have a riot on their hands. Googlers and Facebookers would burn the city to the ground. It is an intensely beloved part of the job.


If those employees can act in concert like you suggest, they could form an union.


Why do you think that's something any of those employees desire? They make significantly more money, have more benefits, and likely work fewer hours than any union employees in the US. Additionally, unions in the US tend to base pay on seniority rather than any kind of merit, which is a huge turn-off for ambitious people.


You realize actors work in a union?


You realize actors do not do well on average right?


> Googlers and Facebookers would burn the city to the ground.

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.


Spicy. The fundamental problem is that a lot of people have jobs that pay a lot of money, I take it. You seem very upset about this.


There is a disconnect here. When you make 10 times more money at Google than the average American and then start threatening to "Burn google down" if the free lunches go away, it looks like a scene from a different world to a low-skilled worker.

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.


Probably not a conspiracy theory. Just an inevitable "if you can't beat em, join em" sort of mentality. For big companies regulation is generally easier to build loopholes into than fight.


Technically grandfather clauses are about spreading out the confrontation to sneak policy through.

But sometimes it looks a lot like collusion.


Politicians either don't give a shit about startups because they don't fill their campaign coffers or just plain don't understand the ecosystem. Techies need to take over Bay area politics.


I would really love to see techies take over, only to see them forced to acknowledge the misery they usually turn a blind eye on.


Techies have been trying to fix the disaster that is SF for a long time. They're very clearly not turning a blind eye. They're being politically obstructed by the long entrenched, old elite that control the political class.

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.


> Cool, so start-ups lose a potential hiring perk to the incumbents.

I don't think catering startups that coordinate with local restaurants (e.g ZeroCater and Chewse) will be affected.


The goal is to keep the employees in the building.


Chains are pretty cheap bought in bulk


I get that this is an issue close to the heart of people on this site, but if you accept that this is a good law (which of course can be debated), then this is the only realistic way to introduce it. Perhaps they should have included a provision for gradually phasing out the existing cafeterias.

On a slightly off topic note, when your company gets to cafeteria size are you really a startup any more?


>I’d like to avoid the latter going forward.

Awesome idea, thanks!


Company-provided lunch provides an opportunity to build relationship among the coworkers. Most people do not says "no" to free lunch, especially if it's good. So, they naturally sit down together to eat.

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.


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.

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.


And that’s great if that’s what you want. OP was just saying that free, internal lunch promotes team bonding for those who do desire it.


I work at a company that doesn’t provide lunch, and we still manage to go out together and “bond”.

Miracles do happen.


Why were you under the impression that nobody here knew that was a possibility and needed an exceptional anecdote?

The upstream comment even said free lunch "promoted" camaraderie, not "is the only way it can happen."


The original comment regarding “bonding” was equally anecdotal - you just agree with it, and therefore perceive it to be an argument.

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.


I absolutely brushed shoulders with more coworkers when I worked at a company that had a cafeteria (this wasn't even free to us). My current teammates eat together sometimes, but unless it's an 'event' it's just 2-3 people, and always someone who wont go due to diet or financial reasons.


I dont care about this policy one way or the other, but following is not true: "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"

It is not nightmare, it is pretty easy thing to do and friends groups in work do it almost daily without any problem.


I think they meant taking out the entire company, say 30+ people, rather than just having lunch among your friend group, which is probably very overlapping with your team, and therefore encourages "silos", which the company already has enough of.


Going out for lunch with colleagues is quite common in some countries, e.g. Czech republic. You split into groups of five to ten people and go with the group that decided to go to the place where you like the food for the day... Usually there are several groups at different times, at 11, 12, etc.

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...


It gets easier when the routine settles in. Eventually you will find a kind of schedule that suits everyone. Then it is mostly a matter of a few quick questions and maybe a call ahead with preorders. I have it seen working well with very different teams.


Lotta hate for Mountain View in the comments here, which is ironic because with this ordnance Mountain View is trying to fix a problem that tech companies get a lot of hate on HN for. I've got mixed feelings about this, so I'll try and explain both sides:

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.


I feel what you're saying, and that definitely is something that happens. Especially for people who move for the job, it's very easy to keep oneself separate from the community. But making it illegal to feed your employees is a very stupid, very authoritarian way of dealing with it that feels like a terrible idea. I don't want to be told where to shop, ever, for any reason, and I dislike that these local governments are trying to force people to spend money at specific places over others. It would be difficult to describe this as any part of a free economy, and if I were starting one of these startups it would be a bad indicator for what might happen in the future and I would be extremely reluctant to set up shop in the town. What if the next move is even more egregious? Can't risk it man.


If you build an office in the middle of a city, sometimes you need to be part of the city... The employees can always bring a lunch to work if they don't want to spend money going out to restaurants. Yes, it would suck if you expected free food and got stuck at this FB office. But, it would also suck if Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale became full of offices and private cafeterias and lost all essence of a "downtown". I mean Palo Alto is already full of Palantir buildings.


> But, it would also suck if Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale became full of offices and private cafeterias and lost all essence of a "downtown". I mean Palo Alto is already full of Palantir buildings.

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.


Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale residents start frothing at the mouth when development threatens to make any part of their city look like a downtown. They are deeply committed to preventing any hint of such a thing. At most, they want a 1950s small-town Main St.


San Antonio Center is very much starting to look like a downtown, complete with the dense apartment blocks over street-level retail, underground parking garages, 11-story apartment buildings, and pedestrian-only alleyways. It's still sort of a hybrid development, because the Walmart side of the block hasn't been redeveloped yet and features a giant parking lot and all around them are tiny 1950s-style strip malls and small apartment complexes that literally were built in the 60s, but you can see in both the zoning codes and satellite photos of the area redeveloped that they were going for a real city in density & usage.

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 see these types of comments, and I have a really hard time viewing them as anything but pretty entitled.

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.


Private corporations on private property should be able to make private contracts with employee as they see fit, without government interference.


If the private corporation didn't like the conditions of the city zoning and development laws, they could build their office elsewhere.


Or instead we could vote these politicians out of office.

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.


These were the politicians that techies voted into office. The politicians that techies voted out of office opposed all development whatsoever - they were the folks that opposed the San Antonio Center development as a whole, and that blocked the North Bayshore redevelopment for over a decade until Googlers actually did form a voting bloc and voted the supervisors opposed to redevelopment out en-masse.

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.)


Indeed.

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.


So many of them are H1B workers, they don't even vote.


Why don't you deserve the free food more? It's a job benefit that the company provides to entice talent (and yeah to keep people at their desks). Do you not deserve the high pay as well any more than any other random worker?


No. I can tell you that most minimum wage workers are working far, far, far harder than most of the people in this board, myself included.


And some of them were working in those private cafeterias. Not anymore, though; restaurateurs profits are more important.


How much revenue is a minimum wage worker generating? There is your answer.


The answer to that is it doesn't matter.


> The problem MV's fixing is the perception

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?)


> The whole point is to fix all the problems with tech insularity and wealth polarization that everyone complains about here.

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?


Another possible consequence is that food prices in vicinity of new FB office will go up and price everyone else out.


This is absolutely what will happen. In an attempt to force tech workers to "interact" with the community, what will happen is that the restaurants will become playgrounds for tech workers and the community members will go elsewhere.


Seems a little early to say this with certainty, no? The thing hasn't even finished being built AFAIU


Why is it too early? We’ve seen this exact same drama play out repeatedly across the country. This would just be an instance of micro-gentrification instead of gentrification at the scale of entire neighborhoods. I see zero reason to think that “this time is different”.


nobody goes out to eat lunch at a restaurant in order to engage with their community


Most of those complaints about the technorati are about Google/Facebook etc. Large companies that bus in their employees. But this legislation won't affect any of them because they are all grandfathered in.

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.


This situation sucks.

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?)


Agreed that the situation sucks. I loved the free food in the Googleplex.

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.


My fiance worked at a company that had pretty much literally this system, just without the "free" part of it.

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.


Yeah, the Communist party in Albania had a great way to deal with 'community involvment'

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.


This isn't the government having a say in what a person does in their 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.


> Anyways, this is not communist 'community involvement' level yet, but the government should have no say on a person's personal private time.

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?


If zoning weren't legal, lots of things would change. Mostly for the better, but perhaps not entirely. There would be a lot more pedestrians and cyclists, and a lot fewer automobiles, in most urban areas. On the other hand you might live closer to a tavern. I lived in Denver for a few years; it's not so bad to live close to taverns.


There's actually a real example of this, and it basically shows the opposite of your point.

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.


Houston has some problems. Would zoning have prevented the subdivisions inside the reservoirs? When they interviewed the county officials who should have enforced the admittedly rudimentary requirements Houston does have, they claimed not to know about the reservoirs. I sort of blame CoE, for not buying up the development rights for the farmland they condemned to flood. As usual with CoE (or USA military in general?), everyone would have been better off if they hadn't done anything.

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.


Houston actually does have zoning laws, but they're called something different: parking minimums [0]. While there might not be any restrictions on what you can build, the fact that you need a certain amount of parking will naturally lead to certain types of housing being built.

[0]: https://empowertexans.com/around-texas/the-burden-of-parking...


What's the problem with a sex shop near a preschool? Or even a residential home next to chemical storage - it should be perfectly safe to live next to those.


An absolutely enormous number of problems in this country can be pointed at zoning, especially NIMBY zoning. We would be far better off wiping it all and replacing it with something like Japan's system, with residential and commercial combined into a handful of categories that are only different in the maximum size of xyz. And even the smaller zones allow small apartment buildings.


This is very interesting for me for a very different reason:

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.


It's taxable in the US as well.

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.


It is not taxable if it is for the employers benefit


Free meals are considered income?

But free benefits are not considered income?

I don't see the difference between the two.


Most benefits are taxable at least in part.

Health is the most tax advantaged, and then retirement. Comes from WWII era rules aimed to prevent wage increases.


How is it hard to prove? These companies offering free food is very well known. It's not like the food is in a back alley behind a heavy door you have to knock on and say, "Walt sent me".


I think he means it's hard to prove at an individual employee level, whether they get their food from here or not.


When I visited Google they were making people scan their badges so they could prove they were complying with the taxes.


They are in the US as well. There's some exception if you can make a case that it's for the employer's benefit, not the employee's. Everyone says it is, and no one tries very hard to tax it.


What I’ve learned early: tax law is subject to negotiation. Depending how well your tax department connects and negotiates with the responsible tax office you can structure things like that.


What stops you from offering a meal for 10c for your staff only? Who determines the monetary value of a meal which would normally be free?


The invoice the company pays for the meal. If cooked on-site, the bills for supplies and salary of the cooks, etc. These things are why companies are required to keep books of accounts.


Man - California, specifically the Valley, is completely off its rocker when it comes to policy making.

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.


True but its mostly Northern Cal legislators right? I guess restaurants have lobbied successfully. They want some of that tech money too.


> They want some of that tech money too.

The strips of bougie overpriced restaurants that haunt Palo Alto, MTV, and Sunnyvale are already getting it.


I'd just like to point out that Amazon HQ isn't in California, it's in Washington over near Microsoft, separated by half of California and the state of Oregon. Either way, I hope the same


Poster you're replying to said 'new HQ' indicating their comment was about the place Amazon is shopping to build, not their current Seattle HQ.


Right, but it sounded as if they were implying the old HQ was in Silicon Valley. I'm sure that wasn't the intention, just clarifying for the possibility of readers who may misinterpret.


The Silicon Valley is not the Valley. The Valley refers to something in Souther California.


If you're in Northern California it usually refers to Central California Valley which is San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley. If you're in Southern California it usually refers to San Fernando Valley.


I'm sorry but this is so f*cking stupid.

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?

I'm enraged.


> Solving the basics is incredibly important.

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...


I really wonder what it will take to kill this Golden Goose. Bay area employees are already a big premium over employees in other areas, but companies still really want to be here. No free food is almost asinine... but it's not a big thing compared to the extra cost in salaries.


I'm wondering the same. Two growing trends that I'm observing:

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.


The issue is that America funds cities poorly. There is a federal subsidy from cities that goes to rural areas. Red areas get more back in services than they pay in taxes, and blue areas pay out more in taxes than they get back.

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.)


Meg McArdle recently wrote a piece with some pretty convincing evidence that this is just factually untrue on a per capita basis.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-05/think-car...


Megan McArdle has an agenda. I've never found she generates much insight for that reason. I apply the Two Papers Rule to her, and to B Stephens:

https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/1017590957984735232

There are some worth reading, like Will Wilkinson, J Rubin, and T Nichols. But they're few and far between.


There is no truth to your assertion that companies will be leaving Bay. Google, Facebook, Salesforce etc. are actually massively expanding their Bay Area footprint.

Google is expanding their Mountain View and building a massive new headquarters

https://sf.curbed.com/2017/3/8/14858200/google-headquarters-...

Google is also expanding into San Jose

Apple just recently completed their spaceship campus

Facebook is massively expanding their Menlo Park footprint https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2018/03/15/fac...

In addition, they signed the largest lease ever in SF https://sf.curbed.com/2018/5/14/17353094/facebook-park-tower...

Salesforce recently opened their new 60 story tower in downtown SF http://www.salesforcetower.com/

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.


Austin is not a "bit player" in the tech scene. Incredible growth is happening outside of the California bubble. Texas, the entire east coast...

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.


All the startups are moving to other markets. The problem long term is that all these startups provide the training for people that eventually join those other companies. Eventually unicorns will show up in other markets that don't have the insanity of the Bay Area. When that happens these companies won't be able to attract talent and risk becoming a shadow of their former selves along with the city.

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 don’t understand the obsession with Austin. It’s actually quite a small player in the tech industry.


Its cachet is overblown in most respects. My friends living there joke about it being due to the requirement to drive through the rest of Texas to get there.


The best startups and investment out here tend to be second-tier compared to the Bay Area. It's improving but still small and far from SF-level success. That said, second tier is great compared to everywhere outside of the Bay Area and NYC.

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.


Yea I'm not moving there, but I'm pretty sure they'll figure out the water issue as they always do.

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.


The small towns are feeling it because farmers get priority and use deep wells to suck their local aquifer dry, leaving the townies with mud.


Salesforce's tower is mostly going to be rented to other tenants. The company will largely maintain distributed office space in the Financial District.


1. I was reading articles about people and companies picking up and moving out of California to places like Nevada...thirty years ago. California is still there, packed as ever.

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.


> I was reading articles about people and companies picking up and moving out of California to places like Nevada...thirty years ago.

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?


> You've been hearing about fully remote virtual teams thirty years ago, before the internet really existed?

Sure, the Mother of all Demos showed off remote collaborative work in 1968.


> 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.


But we’ve still been hearing about how remote work and the paperless office is the future for 50 years.


Hearing about it? I've been working from home for the last 6 years making well over 4 times the salary at my old job.


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.

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.


> 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,

That's not really saying much given its population AND its land area. It should be performing right where it is.


??? Alaska and Texas are geographically larger states. France and Algeria are both geographically larger and have more people. As does India. Canada is roughly the same size population-wise but has significantly more land and natural resources available for extraction...

However you measure it, California is outperforming other states and other nations.


Texas has far less population than California. If you adjust they perform about the same. Oh, perhaps you should look at GDP per capita, where California isn't at all extraordinary. Hmm, it's almost as if you should compare properly?

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?


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!"

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.

You've been hearing about fully remote virtual teams thirty years ago, before the internet really existed?

Yes. Remote access to centralized and/or distributed computing resources was a solved problem long before the internet showed up.


> 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.

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.


> There's a lot more interest in other locations, such as Austin.

Which, I hear, is quickly catching up to Bay Area in terms of cost of living.


> As of May 2017, the average market value for homes was $380,000 within the Austin city limits and $310,000 in the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area, reported Austin HomeSearch.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/austins-cost-of-living-255111

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.

https://sf.curbed.com/2018/2/15/17016992/affordable-homes-me...

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.


Not even remotely close. Like seriously not even on the same planet.


Not even close, and new housing starts have been keeping pace with population growth for years (unlike most other tech boom cities).


Wherever Amazon puts HQ2 will be the next Valley. Not because companies can’t already move, but because it will be an easy excuse to focus there.


I haven't worked there, but from a lot of anecdotes I hear it's not a happy place. Quality of life is a thing.


It's almost like we need a system of government where officials are held accountable for decisions they make in office years later when they prove to be incredibly poor decisions. The current system allows them to make long term decisions and get away with it since it does not impact them (term limits, etc help with that)


Which politicians from which decades will we hold responsible for allowing explosive tech growth without a plan for the long time residents, service workers and teachers who can no longer afford to live in the area, unless they live on the sidewalk or the bus?

Surely this was foreseeable.


That's silly.

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.


Explosive growth is great. Trying to keep a city looking as it did in the past and thus not having enough housing is the problem.


And thus, according to the proposed idea to hold past politicians responsible for future side effects, there should have been a plan for the side effects.


It’s undemocratic AF but that is the one good thing about the House if Lords... if anyone there messes up their family will need to deal with it. Of course Tony Bliar wrecked that too.


> Until, you know, they skip town and you are left with nothing.

Congestion and housing problems solved.


I don't think that the corporations really leave they Bay Area. It seems to me that they, especially the largest one's are expanding, here not elsewhere.


Don't get caught up and be enraged by clickbait BI headlines. Bay Area cities are not cracking down on anything. There is exactly one passed rule so far. And that is by Mountain View that only applies to a single office development. The SF rule is on proposal stages and is unlikely to pass.


> And that is by Mountain View that only applies to a single office development.

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?


Do you have a source for your first assertion ? This link explicitly says that it applies to the Facebook development

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/New-Facebook-Offices-M...

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.


From TFA:

> 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

https://twitter.com/AaronPeskin/status/1021856608417021952

He's saying it's even more necessary in SF than in MTV...


> So no, it doesn't apply "only to Facebook", it applies to new office complexes, in this particular case the complex called "the Village"

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.


As you pointed out, it only applies to "Village". So my initial assertion was correct.

Peskin will need a majority from the BoS and London Breed on his side to pass this legislation


Traffic is going to increase since people will be leaving en mass to go from their campuses to local eateries. Local eateries benefit from urban areas with a high concentration of businesses. This works when you have multiple high rises and/or tons of smaller startups in an area, both of which are common in SF. Mountain View is not suburban but outside of Castro, you need a car to get anywhere for a bite if you're on one of those campuses.

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 a Bay Area resident my priorities are the cost of housing, cleaning our dirty streets and alleviating traffic congestion.

As far as I understand, the prevailing policy is doing the exact opposite on all those three.


Yup. Prevent construction of new housing. Forcing prices up, putting more people on the streets or commuting from an Exurb.


They're just pandering to special interest groups --groups they believe will like this move, and since there is no alternative party in the Bay Area, they know most tech workers will not break Repub, so they can do what they want.

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.


> They're just pandering to special interest groups --groups they believe will like this move, and since there is no alternative party in the Bay Area, they know most tech workers will not break Repub, so they can do what they want.

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).


> "progressives" and "moderates."

How did the people who oppose pretty much all progress, came to be named "progressives"?


It’s a reference to progressive taxation


I guess they got the name back when smelling bad and smoking pot was progressive.


It would be nice if politicians had to disclose conflicts of interest when proposing legislation.

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.


... Peskin is many things, but he's not someone who proposed legislation because someone bought him off.


Does he accept no campaign donations? Does he never meet with lobbyists? What do you think that is?


Having a direct financial interest is not the only reason someone can propose bad legislation. Politics run on favors and negotiations. I might not be bought off by an outside interest, but I might owe one to my friend, who might owe one to his friend, who turns out to have a deal with the outside interest...


Reputations are good until they're not. People are fallible and there plenty of examples of politicians who have a public image and a backroom one.

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.


disclose a conflict? this is what politicians do here, the place one group against another to profit off of it come election time. this to them is a freebie because they believe they can only get good will from the populace as a whole by exploiting both wealth and privilege envy.

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 .....


I'm not sure if they are directly related, but either way, given that the twitter tax brakes were supposed to bring new life to mid market yet hardly did anything. Is this a way to reconcile the damage that came from those tax breaks?


from https://sfcontroller.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Docu...

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 generated.

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.


These things aren't mutually exclusive. Local governments have many constituencies they need to support, small business being one of the most important.

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.


You do understand that taxes on strong economic base like restaurants is what pays for street cleaning and infrastructure improvement, right?

But, yeah this is stupid.


Maybe it's the concept of public property financed by taxes that's wrong.


Really enraged? I'm not exactly sure what "progressivism" is but seems like accepting financial responsibility for one's own lunch and/or supporting the local deli is far more akin to conservatism.


>As a Bay Area resident

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.


I sure wouldn't call this progressivism of any sort, for that matter.


> This is an example of progressivism gone awry.

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.


The progressives of the Board of Supervisors introduced this. To my knowledge it isn't the moderate members. Perhaps its crony capitalism, perhaps its something more sinister - this plays into the local anti-tech narrative.

Whatever it is, it isn't addressing the important basics to improve our quality of life.


If all tech workers went out for lunch every day that would be a huge boon to the local low skill labor market.


So over 20,000 employees would leave the Googleplex every day at noon to get lunch?

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!


As a Mountain View resident who has to drive on Shoreline, please no! This would be disastrous. It's already a mess at 9 a.m. every day thanks to Google. I have to leave to get to work super early just to get on the freeway before the Google traffic makes me drive a 1 mile stretch in 1/2 hour.


Presumbly there would be restaurants in Shoreline in this scenario, and Google employees would walk to the restaurant to spend their money, just like in downtowns across the world. Or they'd bring lunch from home.


Is there anything stopping the next campus from opening a restaurant and not charging their employees?


Some thing exactly like that will happen.

"We don't serve free food to our employee, we charge $0.000001 per meal".


They'll have to provide access to the public, i.e. allow anyone to walk into their campus and have a meal there.

Plus it can't be the exact same entity, so they'll have to "partner" with some vendor to create and operate the restaurant.


Isn't a company restaurant that doesn't charge employees the same thing as a company cafeteria?


No, maybe they would come to the Googleplex. A huge boon in food trucks.


The Googleplex has over 20,000 employees, and food trucks are among the least efficient ways to feed them. You'd have huge convoys of food trucks entering and leaving the Googleplex for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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.


The Village at San Antonio is not North Bayshore. This wouldn't work at Google's current campus because there are literally not enough restaurants to feed everyone - there were 4 when I worked there (Sports Page + the Sunnybowl/Falafel/Sushi complex), and since then Sports Page has closed and there are apparently a few new ones by the Computer History Museum. Perhaps the new zoning plans for North Bayshore include more, but it'll be years before that's done.

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.


...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.


I'd bet that it's honestly not that important to them. They'll probably forego the cafeteria and just let their highly-paid employees buy lunch the way 99% of the population does. It won't be a popular building to work at, but if you work at Facebook, are you really gonna quit because you work at an office without a cafe? You've probably got bigger things on your mind, like the 20% drop in the stock price that happened today.


This is an informative comment, thanks.

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.


On the other hand, I live far away and the YouTubes would be entertaining. Please do this, Google.


Umm that already happens.

It is just that they are paid by Google instead of individual employees.


I skip breakfast, because the commute is so terrible that by the time I get to the office, it is too late, and I am unwilling to wake up any earlier in the morning for it. (Though, if I really did force myself to have breakfast, I would be waking up for it, not eating out.)

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?


What about all the employees that work in the cafeterias at Facebook?


This is the real point. The idea that somehow the catering business serving startups or the kitchen workers in cafes are somehow less worthy of support than owners of restaurants


To be fair, there are a lot of efficiency gains and economies of scale involved.

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.


No, this is not the real point. Employment isn't an upside, that's the broken window fallacy.

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.


Restaurants do have some added benefits over just a catering business though and those are mentioned in the article. Restaurants bring foot traffic to areas that other shops can benefit from where a catering business doesn't.


Those employees don’t contribute to the campaigns of the relevant politicians while local business owners are highly involved.


Suddenly everyone cares about their dear Facebook cafeteria workers?

https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Facebook-cafeteria-worke...

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.


It's a shame that bay area housing prices, which higher paid tech workers already struggle with, are even more of a burden for Facebook cafeteria workers, who make less money than many of those they serve every day. Thankfully, since your year-old article, Facebook cafeteria workers have unionized. I hope it's helped.

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?


> 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?

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!


are you kidding me? There's already enormous demand for unskilled labor. Every single cafe and restaurant i encounter here in the bay area has positions open in the kitchen, dishwasher and waiters. One restaurant had 9+ positions open!


And getting one of those jobs means fuck-all when tech workers have you priced out of living withing any sort of reasonable commute to your low-wage service industry job.


Not everyone who works at a tech company is an engineer. In fact, engineers probably do not even constitute the majority of the workforce for many large bay area "tech" companies.


how are the existing cafeterias in mountain view not part of the "local low skill labor market"

they pay well, better than restaurants, and they have better hours and benefits


Except not everyone would. I ate out like once a month at my old company that didn't provide food and now eat breakfast and lunch everyday at my new office that does. If free food is banned, a lot of people will be like me would prepare their own food decreasing the overall demand for workers to make food.


Yes, but are you going to do anything about it? If you work at one of the big tech companies in the bay area, chances are you either cannot vote or you're only ever going to vote for the incumbent party, so what does it matter to them if they piss you off?


For the SF locals, it's usually democrats vs democrats, so party affiliation doesn't really matter. Because of this, inucumbents are much more easily voted out of office on the supervisor level (which is where this is coming from).

So... vote when you can!


This is true but the Bay Area local democrats will be the majority. Hell, you're pretty much a republican in their eyes as a tech worker.

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.


Part of the problem with tech's rep is the free dinners...the tech community is notoriously insular in the Bay Area in ways it is not in other tech hubs like LA, Boston, NYC, or Austin.

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.)


> the tech community is notoriously insular in the Bay Area in ways it is not in other tech hubs like LA, Boston, NYC, or Austin

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.


True. But there are moderates to consider.


I'm not sure you use the apathy card on me.

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.


“Moderate” politics == corporate donations + laissez-faire - public relations.

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?


Sorry dude, I am what I am. The Trump era has really turned me off to extremism. So I judge policies by their results.

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.


> you're only ever going to vote for the incumbent party, so what does it matter to them if they piss you off?

Primaries!


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