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Tech Overload: Palo Alto Battles Silicon Valley’s Spread

September 13, 2016

By Eliot Brown : wsj – excerpt

Demand from expanding tech firms ignites a growing anti-development backlash

The tech sector’s birthplace is tiring of tech.

A booming technology economy in recent years has fueled vast wealth creation in Palo Alto, Calif., and across Silicon Valley as a whole—but has also spawned punishing increases in apartment rents and clogged small streets with traffic.

Now Palo Alto, a city that helped give rise to Hewlett-Packard, Google and Facebook, is saying enough is enough.

The city council last year put a moratorium on new office construction in its downtown—and in recent weeks the city’s mayor has pushed to block big software companies from dominating Palo Alto’s quaint center, saying they threaten the diversity and charm of the small-feeling city.

“At a certain point in time, it would lose a lot of its attractiveness,” the mayor, Patrick Burt, said of the downtown area. “If Palo Altans wanted to live in San Francisco, they’d go live in San Francisco.”

Palo Alto’s tough stance is only the latest dust-up in Silicon Valley, where overwhelming demand from expanding tech companies is sparking a growing anti-development backlash—one that could undermine the region’s ability to keep growing…

The city of East Palo Alto is opposing the Facebook development because the added jobs would put too much burden on its housing stock, and last week it told Menlo Park it hired a lawyer on the issue…

On a more regional level, the general sentiment is frustrating, given the historically important role of the city in incubating top companies, said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association.

“Having the good fortune to be located in the economic miracle of our generation brings with it some responsibilities to act like citizens of the world,” Mr. Metcalf said. By severely limiting growth, he said, “you will close off opportunities to other people in the U.S.”… (more)

WHAT? How is closing off opportunities in one place not opening them in another? Mr. Metcalf appears to think the world revolves around the SF Bay Area. He needs to get out of it more often. There are a world of opportunities for growth and jobs in many other areas of  the globe. We need to see some new ideas germinate elsewhere to get us off the current job-killing robotic futuristic direction SF tech appears to have us going. The too much too fast growth patterns have created animosity between the developers and the rest of us, and the constant traffic gridlock has destroyed the harmony we used have on our streets. People do not want to live in small cages, or units. People want to live in happy homes without the constant threat of eviction.

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