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'Google Buses' Are Bad For Cities, Says New York MTA Official

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the and-a-pony dept.

Businesses 606

An anonymous reader writes "The Director of Sustainability for New York's MTA is calling out Google, Apple, and Yahoo for 'deliberately' building their campuses away from public amenities like restaurants, and public transportation. 'With very few honorable exceptions like Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, who recently moved his company headquarters from suburban Henderson to downtown Las Vegas, tech companies seem not to have gotten the memo that suburbs are old and bad news,' he writes. Instead of launching their own bus services to ferry people from the city to their campuses, as the tech companies have done, the Googles and Apples of the world should 'locate themselves in existing urban communities. Ideally, in blighted ones,' says Dutta." Maybe cities just don't have the right mix of amenities, price, space, parking, and other factors to make them better places to put certain businesses.

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Slashdot Beta Rules! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334613)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.
And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Re:Slashdot Beta Rules! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334945)

Why is it EVERY dickless idiot who quotes this uses "cosmonaut"? Oh, that's right! It's because you're fucking illiterate! The word you're looking for (if you were educated) is "confidante". Fucking morons.

Re:Slashdot Beta Rules! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335171)

Dude, they do it on purpose. Don't feed the trolls.

Corporate Arcologies (4, Insightful)

eudas (192703) | about 8 months ago | (#46334615)

If anyone is going to bring us Shadowrun-style corporate arcologies, it'll be Google.

Re:Corporate Arcologies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334957)

I still want Google to be bought out by a Japanese investment firm that mostly leaves them alone but adds a little line to the copyright pages: "A Renraku subsidiary"

And my apologies to the good people who are living in Chicago, but I want that place bugged and bombed.

Re:Corporate Arcologies (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334999)

It's my thought that crazed luddite zealots attacking Google's busses which will lead to the legislation allowing corporations to use lethal force to protect their property (to include their people).

Foxconn and friends were faster (4, Interesting)

gentryx (759438) | about 8 months ago | (#46335007)

Foxconn [wikipedia.org] is already doing arcologies [economist.com] . Workers never have to leave the company's premises. I don't know whether they already include graveyards.

Ain't no body got time for that (5, Insightful)

mikehilly (653401) | about 8 months ago | (#46334625)

I would rather the campus be located away from urban area. Less traffic, less driving, cheap/free parking, cheaper food, less chance of crime happening to me or my properly while at or traveling to work and for most people closer to home. This is double so if locally aimed marketing and walk in customers are not very frequent.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334719)

Well said sir. What I don't want is to have to drive in to some stupid, inner city like San Francisco where the homeless are peeing on the buildings while asking for handouts, sit in interminable traffic, pay to park, etc. That would be stupid. The buses are a great solution where the people who want to live in the inner city squalor can do so (they seem to think they need to be near "something to do" - basically stupid bars and dance clubs) and get a bus to the campus while wiser suburban dwellers can drive in without the congestion and parking fees you get in the city.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (5, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | about 8 months ago | (#46334721)

I'm not sure you follow. Google run buses because driving is horrible, time consuming, unproductive, and because even in the suburbs land space for parking is expensive. They provide food because in the suburbs there are few other options.

It's only close to home, because marketers decided every American should have a single family home (detached home in the rest of the world), and planners followed along, emptying city centers of residential accommodation. But then property prices skyrocket around large employers and many employees are still forced to commute to work simply to find property they can afford.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (4, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 months ago | (#46334857)

But then property prices skyrocket around large employers and many employees are still forced to commute to work simply to find property they can afford.

Its the ratrace; most employees could choose to live really close to work but it would mean an expensive move (if you own, moving costs tens of thousands of dollars) and higher (but affordable) monthly costs. Most gladly exchange an extra 30-45min on the daily commute for an extra 1000 sq feet in their house or perhaps enough money to take an annual vacation; that's just the way Americans like it.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46334925)

Yea, I'm sure the food options in Skid Row are superb. Crack laced rat burgers sound divine

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (4, Insightful)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 8 months ago | (#46334931)

Google run buses because driving is horrible, time consuming, unproductive, and because even in the suburbs land space for parking is expensive.

Then let first the city planners fix the traffic issues if they want any new business going in there.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (5, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | about 8 months ago | (#46334959)

So, Google decided to do something about traffic. Instead of having dozens of cars on the roads, spewing greenhouse gasses and burning foreign oil, they decide to do the "green" thing and provide buses, and they are condemned for it?! Are these buses running off of fuel made from baby seals?

Who can blame businesses for wanting to be away from crowds? If you can get a large campus for much cheaper, why not?

Imagine having to move into an existing urban area.... If you want to have a new, large facility, then you possibly have to purchase the land from multiple owners (maybe the site already has multiple smaller buildings, each separately owned). Then, you have to demolish the old buildings.

Of course, you could always move into an existing building. How old is it? Does it have asbestos in it? Are there any maintenance nightmares in store? How does the building look? What is the floor layout? Will you need to remodel?

Whether you tear down and rebuilt, or use an existing building, there are other questions... Is there a crime problem? Who are the neighbors? How bad is traffic? Where will the employees park? Do you also need to build a multi-level parking garage for your employees (vastly more expensive than a regular parking lot)? Do you just let them use public paid parking?

All of this stuff simply means that it is probably far easier just to get a few dozen acres away from town and build a new building there. If you want to change this, then you need to change the economics of the situation. Tax breaks for urban areas ("tax breaks" and "urban" are not normally used in the same sentence). Maybe make the permitting process easier. I do not know what the answer is. I do know that if I were running a business, building the exact building that I want away from town where the land is cheaper just seems to make a lot of sense.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335051)

"because marketers decided every American should have a single family home (detached home in the rest of the world), and planners followed along"

No, it's because those of us who have bought such homes do not want to follow the Japanese model. It's the only thing I've ever heard a frenchman say that I will quote - "the Japanese? Why would we want to live like the Japanese? They live like ants!". I do NOT want to live in a big box with thousands of other people. That is NOT living, it's mere existence, if that. Marketers now are pushing you into those hovels because they can make a LOT more money off of you, with very little cost to support all of you ants. No thanks.

Business decisions should not be altruistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334763)

Building your business I the middle of a blighted area, for the greater good of that area, makes no sense.

You won't be able to recruit and retain talent if they don't want to live there, your costs will be higher, and you will be victimized by crime more often.

There is nothing wrong with responding to the incentives that you face, which include building your business in a spot that is good for your business.

If you want Google or Apple to move, make it worth their while. Otherwise, quit asking them to do things that are not in their best interest.

Re:Business decisions should not be altruistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335009)

Entities doing things that aren't always clearly in their best interests is pretty much the definition of civilization.

Plus, apparently their talent does want to live there, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about the buses that take them from the city to the company campus.

Re:Business decisions should not be altruistic (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 8 months ago | (#46335163)

make it worth their while. ... quit asking them to do things that are not in their best interest.

And that narrow view sums up the problem. Where is your sense of social responsibility? Or if not that, can you at least muster some enlightened self interest? You know, the thought that improving a neighborhood is in fact in your own interest, and that just moving into a neighborhood will improve it? That's assuming the business isn't one of those irresponsible sorts that sets a bad example by spewing pollution into the environment and then walking away from the mess they made, leaving it for the public or natural processes to clean up.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 8 months ago | (#46335003)

I would rather the campus be located away from urban area. Less traffic, less driving, cheap/free parking, cheaper food, less chance of crime happening to me or my properly while at or traveling to work and for most people closer to home. This is double so if locally aimed marketing and walk in customers are not very frequent.

I would rather the campus be located away from urban area. Less traffic, less driving, cheap/free parking, cheaper food, less chance of crime happening to me or my properly while at or traveling to work and for most people closer to home. This is double so if locally aimed marketing and walk in customers are not very frequent.

Less traffic? You haven't driving down 101 to Mountain View lately, have you? And it's not like Mountain View is so much affordable than SF so you probably won't be living close to your Google job. A nice 1 bedroom in Mountain View can run $3 - $4,000, just like in SF.

Cheaper food? Sure, if your company provides it for you, otherwise that "cheap food" is a 15 - 20 minute drive off campus to a strip mall, so you end up spending half your lunch hour in your car. In Downtown SF there are dozens or hundreds of places within a 5 - 10 minute walk from the office, with prices ranging from a a $5 Chinese takeout place to a $150 restaurant.

Less chance of crime? Your car probably has a better chance of getting broken into in Mountainview since it'll be parked in a big, largely unpatrolled parking lor or parking garage. In SF, you're not going to be driving a car.

There are lots of benefits to living and working in a city, though it's not for everyone. If you like the "convenience" of being able to drive everywhere, you won't like a city. If you don't want to *have* to drive everywhere, a city is very attractive.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (3, Insightful)

garyebickford (222422) | about 8 months ago | (#46335155)

From my perspective, essentially everything from south of San Jose to somewhere north of Sausalito and east of I680 is 'city'. Thinking of Mountain View as a suburb is an example of how myopic these folks are. I recall over 20 years ago when 400 square foot condos (that's 20x20 feet or 6x6 meters, including everything) in god-forsaken Fremont sold out before they were built. (In fairness, I don't know what Fremont is like now - it may be yuppie heaven these days.) If that isn't 'city' I don't know what is.

Re:Ain't no body got time for that (2)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 8 months ago | (#46335183)

so let me get this straight.
San Fran which has limits of building heights and has problem with rent because there's not enough space wants a big company to plop their campus right in the middle of the city.
How is that fixing any problems?
The whole reason they built out there was that it was cheaper and there was space.

who wants to work/live in a dirty city? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334639)

Really.

Re:who wants to work/live in a dirty city? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 8 months ago | (#46334879)

Really.

Apparently the thousands of tech workers that Google, Apple, and others are shuttling from SF to the Peninsula want to live in a city.

Why (5, Insightful)

Drewdad (1738014) | about 8 months ago | (#46334649)

Why is commuting from suburbs to town centers good, but commuting from town center to a suburb bad?

Re:Why (5, Insightful)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about 8 months ago | (#46334681)

Because the mayors of town centers want the business and all the revenue it brings inside the city. The suburbs may be a whole other municipality and city. Just follow the money.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334979)

Any sufficiently large property area not already up for sale would also likely require the government going to Eminent Domain seizures and all its accompanying evil. Of course there can be even worse evils involved with the accumulation of large blocks of real estate without Eminent Domain.

There are a lot of closed large factories around the country though.

Fuck that guy. Seriously. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 8 months ago | (#46334655)

Apparatchik from a tax-dependent transit agency is bad-mouthing private alternatives. HIs approval is neither sought nor required.

-jcr

wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334831)

He is bad mouthing private busses being used as a band-aid for poor land use planning and sprawl.

Re:Fuck that guy. Seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335079)

Some tax-dependent dude on the Interwebs is bad-mouthing something else by calling it tax-dependent. His comments were neither sought after nor required, but will be ridiculed and laughed at.

False comparison (1, Interesting)

bradrum (1639141) | about 8 months ago | (#46335089)

Its not even a "private alternative". I can't pay someone to take these Google buses if I am not one of the sanctioned few who work in the pearly gates of Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc... Its not even close to the services to the MTA provides, if you actually took the MTA you would understand that.

I take it everyday and so does everyone else here. This is the great thing about NYC that people out in the burbs don't get. Except for the gilded few that get whisked around in limos and choppers in NYC public transit is the one thing most New Yorkers have in common and it makes for better citizens here. You can just see it in the amount of charitable giving, the lower crime, and the gregariousness of people that live here.

I have lived in 5 different states and 8 different cities. I grew up in North Dallas, the home of the suburb. I can say with experience that this guy has a point because I have lived on both sides of the fence of this argument.

Ya think so? (3, Informative)

east coast (590680) | about 8 months ago | (#46334657)

So tech companies don't want to be in high crime locations in the middle of neighborhoods that most of their workers wouldn't want to live or send their kids to school? Who woulda thunk it?

I'm already in the suburbs today and if I have to look for a new jobs I'm going to start to look even further from the city I live around. There is zero appeal to working in a city much less living in one.

Re:Ya think so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334803)

So tech companies don't want to be in high crime locations in the middle of neighborhoods that most of their workers wouldn't want to live or send their kids to school? Who woulda thunk it?

I'm already in the suburbs today and if I have to look for a new jobs I'm going to start to look even further from the city I live around. There is zero appeal to working in a city much less living in one.

Bingo

Re:Ya think so? (2)

VojakSvejk (315965) | about 8 months ago | (#46334887)

The people in this case by and large live in the very cities in question; they do seem to want to live there, and they have to be transported to where they work, because that has been located elsewhere. If you live and work in the same suburb, you're not what we're talking about here.

Re:Ya think so? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334901)

So tech companies don't want to be in [...] the middle of neighborhoods that most of their workers wouldn't want to live

Hurrrr we are reading this article because of the exact fucking opposite of what you are positing. Try again.

Re:Ya think so? (2)

elsuperjefe (1487639) | about 8 months ago | (#46334949)

hmmm, and yet thousands of their employees DO want to live in these horrifying places... stranger and stranger still.

Re:Ya think so? (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 8 months ago | (#46334983)

Not sure, but my first thought is: Have you seen the prices of land downtown? Then you'll figure out what's the first thing companies see on moving out of town. They get their own building at a cheaper price, and they gain in traffic (commute time), if they have/provide their own cafe, then also keep people near the office during lunch time (so they engage in conversations and probably creative talks, and reduce information leaks). Clearly there are more sides to the story.

In any case, if Google offers free food, how are the neighborhood restaurants going to compete against that? (If some local businesses are the issue)

Re:Ya think so? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 8 months ago | (#46335093)

Forgetting the crime factor, downtowns have many factors against them. Namely the lack of consolidated space and cost. Now, total amount of space might be high in some downtowns but that space is not consolidated in one place and it may not be cheap. Apple needs a great deal of land for their new HQ; otherwise they would have to split up their space among several buildings which is a problem they are trying to solve with a single HQ. Now Apple could buy up a lot of downtown real estate and demolish several city blocks to achieve this, but is much more expensive than doing this in a suburban area. Smaller companies can do this and many startups find that locating downtown is beneficial; but at some point as the company grows they simply need to move out of downtown for cost reasons.

Indeed (5, Insightful)

ysth (1368415) | about 8 months ago | (#46334661)

This: "Maybe cities just don't have the right mix of amenities, price, space, parking, and other factors to make them better places to put certain businesses."

The Director of Sustainability demonstrates the ludicrous line of thought that puts stadiums downtown.

What an asshole. (4, Insightful)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 8 months ago | (#46334663)

"Put your company and employees in a more expensive and crowded place (and *blighted?!* = more dangerous) because I say it's better", says a guy who works for a terribly-run monopoly that depends on people needing to get where he's telling them to build.

Re:What an asshole. (4, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 8 months ago | (#46334883)

What's interesting is that this guy is the director for the New York MTA, the company that runs the public transit in NYC. Google has a location in NYC, and it's right in Manhattan, not in the suburbs. It's in the Chelsea district. It's a pretty nice area; their building is right across from the Chelsea Market (basically an old factory converted into a small shopping mall mostly filled with restaurants and other food stores). It's definitely not a dangerous area (like most of Manhattan these days), but it's not anyplace you can live either; the cost of living there is astronomical. There's a reason so many Manhattan workers are moving out to Brooklyn, Queens, and northern New Jersey, or even out to Connecticut or Long Island.

This idea of having workers living and working near the center of a city sounds all well and good from an efficiency perspective, but in reality it never seems to work out, at least in America. Either the downtown is a run-down dump like Detroit where it's extremely dangerous and there's a lot of crime and poverty, or it's "gentrified" like NYC and the cost of living is absolutely astronomical and unaffordable for anyone but the executives of these corporations (which is, of course, why companies like MTA exist, to move people between affordable areas where the live and the unaffordable areas where their jobs are). It'd be nice if it wasn't like this, but it is, though I'm not really sure why to be honest. I guess we just haven't figured out how to build buildings large enough so that it's possible for everyone to live near the workplaces, so there's a lack of supply for living spaces near the good locations, driving up prices.

Re:What an asshole. (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 8 months ago | (#46335039)

I guess we just haven't figured out how to build buildings large enough so that it's possible for everyone to live near the workplaces, so there's a lack of supply for living spaces near the good locations, driving up prices.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]

We most certainly HAVE figured out how to build such buildings, the problem is they're used for corporate offices, condominiums and other things for the well-heeled rather than affordable quality housing.

Fucking hilarious (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 8 months ago | (#46334675)

Yes, companies full of naive young people should locate to gnarly blighted urban ghettos and inner ring suburbs where they have less control over building design and negative value from the local amenities. Great idea. Let me know how that works out

Re:Fucking hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334739)

BUT MUH GENTRIFICATION...

And then when the company does this and raises property values the locals will get pissed off that they can't afford it anymore. They want the companies money but the area to stay crappy.

Translation: (3, Insightful)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | about 8 months ago | (#46334679)

Whiny mid-level mafia manager bemoans that his big city mafia has chased away business. Maybe if cities focused on becoming good places to do business again, business might move back. Just a thought.

Re:Translation: (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 8 months ago | (#46334947)

His big city is NYC, which actually IS a good place to do business, according to the many large companies located there. One of those companies is Google; they have a huge location in Manhattan. There's also lots of giant financial firms there, including Bloomberg LP which employs a lot of programmers.

The problem is, there's no reasonably-priced housing anywhere near that location (or anywhere in Manhattan for that matter), so people have to take long commutes from other places like New Jersey or Connecticut to get to these jobs.

NYC used to be a very affordable place to live; it wasn't that expensive to live in Manhattan decades ago. However, during that time crime was through the roof. Then, various measures were employed which massively reduced the crime, and now Manhattan is probably the safest city (or city portion, and definitely downtown area) in America. However, it's also completely unaffordable if you're not a multimillionaire. Everyone's moving out to Brooklyn (which has also become ridiculously expensive), Queens, NJ, and CT, and riding on trains for 1 - 1.5 hours each way.

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335097)

Last I checked business was still doing great guns in New York City. In fact the biggest problem with doing business in NYC is cost - which is a result of limited supply and high demand.

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335143)

Excellent point, NYC is foundering with all the businesses and people leaving.

Security (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334683)

Maybe google employees don't want to get stabbed by the crazy homeless guy on the city bus.

Re:Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335087)

Or constantly subjected to stop and frisk/random shootings by the NYPD?

True innovation (4, Interesting)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#46334693)

Would be creating a virtual workplace with seamless interaction with coworkers. Why are we not working on this? We could live wherever we want, no commuting, no traffic pollution, no being forced to lived in high-priced areas where everything - housing, space, schools, parking - is at a premium. But the world seems content to move in the opposite direction: we have the internet, so let's move all the tech companies to one place.

Boy Howdy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334697)

I worked in Philadelphia for more than 20 years. I'd hate to go back to working in that hell-hole.

I paid a good chunk of my income in wage tax, got nothing for it, and arrived at work already aggravated by traffic.

I tried public transit. Expensive, filthy, slow and late, uncivilized and discourtous employees, it was worse than fighting traffic.

Dutta == Idiot (4, Insightful)

byteherder (722785) | about 8 months ago | (#46334715)

'...locate themselves in existing urban communities. Ideally, in blighted ones,'

You mean you want Google to locate its campuses in urban blighted areas (slums). No modern tech company will do that, no one would work for them. It is all about attracting the best and brightest minds. I have a suggestion, why don't you clean up your cities and get rid of the blighted areas and maybe companies will want to locate there.

Although... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334823)

Perhaps if we sold Detroit to Google, they could fix it. They'd be near the Canadian border, so it could draw employees from both countries.

Re:Although... (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 8 months ago | (#46334915)

Great idea! Didn't google recently buy a robotics company??? Introducing the Google ED-209! Now with android support!

Re:Dutta == Idiot (3, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 8 months ago | (#46334955)

'...locate themselves in existing urban communities. Ideally, in blighted ones,' You mean you want Google to locate its campuses in urban blighted areas (slums). No modern tech company will do that, no one would work for them. It is all about attracting the best and brightest minds. I have a suggestion, why don't you clean up your cities and get rid of the blighted areas and maybe companies will want to locate there.

Or, when they do move in they meet resistance from existing residents that accuse them of ruining the neighborhood by driving up prices and gentrifying it.

Re:Dutta == Idiot (1, Insightful)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 8 months ago | (#46335085)

I have a suggestion, why don't you clean up your cities and get rid of the blighted areas and maybe companies will want to locate there.

The cities became blighted when companies moved to the suburbs along with their white-flight employees. So the long-standing companies that don't want to move back to the cities, are responsible for the blight in the first place.

Other companies like Google, just set up in the suburbs because that's how it's done now.

Exactly what we need. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334727)

Moving businesses to the suburbs is exactly what we need. Who, in their right mind, want to actually exist in a large, urban area?!? Satellite urban centers are the best bet; lower crime, less pollution, less traffic, blah blah blah blah... Most people want to bail and move to the burbs or the country as soon as they can afford to do it. I will never succumb to a large city. Worst habitat ever.

Re:Exactly what we need. (1)

ebh (116526) | about 8 months ago | (#46334985)

Less traffic in the suburbs? In what country? In US suburbs, nobody can take public transportation anywhere, so the streets and highways are choked with single-occupancy cars. The transit infrastructure is all about getting from the inner suburbs to the city center. Suburb-to-suburb commuting by public transit means turning a 30-minute drive into a three hour trip downtown and back.

Back when the transit systems were designed, they never anticipated the commuting patterns we have today.

Also, reverse commuting isn't just for hipsters. Outer-ring suburbs are too expensive for low-wage workers.

Wow, apologist much? (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 months ago | (#46334729)

Maybe cities just don't have the right mix of amenities, price, space, parking, and other factors to make them better places to put certain businesses.

Certain businesses? Which sort? The kind that benefit from building all those amenities from scratch? I call bullshit unless you are operating an airport, naval base, or some other ridiculously large and specialized enterprise. Google, Apple, etc simply balked at the rent/taxes they would have to pay to locate somewhere with a good workforce, and instead camps outside the city limits and cherry picks employees with private buses to take advantage of the city without having to pay for it. If the suburbs were such an appealing location, why aren't the employees there too?

Re:Wow, apologist much? (2)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 8 months ago | (#46334811)

How are they taking advantage of the city without paying for it? All these employees who live in the city will continue to pay taxes, parking fees, patronize city businesses, etc.

Re:Wow, apologist much? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 8 months ago | (#46335101)

All these employees who live in the city will continue to pay taxes, parking fees, patronize city businesses, etc.

But Google itself as a company, doesn't. That's where the big money is.

Cities are worse (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 8 months ago | (#46334735)

Cities are expensive, crowded, dirty, and noisy. I'd rather live/work outside of a "city" than work in and either commute or use public transport. The expense is the biggest concern.

Some places don't want "help" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334737)

Here's one, for example [newpittsbu...online.com] ... on the other hand, with Kelo v. City of New London, maybe someone could just step in and "help", as in "we're from the Government, and we're here to help"...

blighted suburbs easy to buy & restore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334743)

like a yard sale... they don't have that blighted urban smell... as strongly.. promised land of the freeland freeloaders taken by force from natives http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=unrepentant&sm=3 makes us the blight. with history racing up to correct itself & us there may never be a better time to consider ourselves in relation to all living things? history must be righted before future really starts? that's crazy like creation can be felt in our hearts now... see you there... bet early & often do not get shut out down up

Cities are Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334749)

You can move my job into the center of the city right after you double my salary to afford either A.) the increased price of moving my habitation to the same said middle of city or B.) the increased fuel, vehicular upkeep, lost time, etc. of commuting all the way in.

Is this guy living in realiaty (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | about 8 months ago | (#46334765)

I have to spend 2 hr's getting down town to a switch site today. I will be doing this for over a week and its a waste. I am even using public transit as driving here would take even longer. Now outside the city (Toronto) I can drive around a lot better. I agree the public transit is better in the city but overall i hate coming into the city. This is why I love even out side of the bedroom city/suburban areas. Moving out of the main city has MANY advantages such as easier communities that make people HAPPY.

And Taxes. (3, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | about 8 months ago | (#46334773)

Maybe cities just don't have the right mix of amenities, price, space, parking, and other factors to make them better places to put certain businesses.

Not to mention the higher taxes inside of cities. In Cleveland, for example, Progressive Insurance wanted to put a big office building right in downtown Cleveland. Then they looked at the taxes they would be paying. The City of Cleveland refused to make an exemption for them. That is fully within their rights, of course. Anyway, where was the office built?

Right outside of the Cleveland city limits. Close to the city, but not where they'd have to pay the extra taxes. Cleveland City Council was pissed of course but they only have themselves to blame.

This stuff matters to businesses. It affects everything they do and it affects the end cost to the customer. After all - a customer, in order to purchase a product or service, needs to pay for all of the costs required to provide that good or service. That includes taxes the business must pay. People always clamoring for more taxes on business never seem to realize that in their fervor to punish businesses for being successful, the real person who is being punished is the customer. Not the business.

In a competitive market a company cannot afford to be paying unnecessary taxes.

Businesses aren't the only things leaving NYC either; many high profile wealthy people are leaving, or have left, for the same reason. Same in California.

Re:And Taxes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335047)

That is the hidden war going on in the US right now. Instead of national taxes or state taxes that people can't avoid as much, the anti-tax people are pushing more local taxes so some people have to pay, while others benefit. States are trying to get existing businesses to move, while closing down shop in the other communities. Commercial taxes should be state and national based. Don't let local city councils offer tax breaks or lower tax rates for some who are unethical. Simplify things and don't allow loopholes for anyone.

Because if there aren't enough people paying, then the city gets run down. and you get Detroit and Baltimore, and Cleveland... But, the selfish anti-tax people have already run away and live in their nice homes as long as they can make the payments.

I'm not sure if this is what is going on in the Bay area though.

So Progressive is just a hollow name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335081)

When push comes to shove, Progressive Insurance abandoned the principles behind their name?

Or did they?

Aren't today's "progressives" really nothing more than class warrior statists shouting "higher taxes for thee, but not for me"?

Re:And Taxes. (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 8 months ago | (#46335169)

Close to the city, but not where they'd have to pay the extra taxes. Cleveland City Council was pissed of course but they only have themselves to blame.

You can't blame Cleveland, the companies are trying to make everything a race to the bottom. Suppose Cleveland caved in...you know what would happen. 20 years down the line they'd start playing cities against each other for their "patronage". "If you don't give us a bribe/pay protection...I mean give us tax break, my company will accidentally move to another city, capische?"

We shouldn't be selling out our fellow citizens/country as a whole and economic viability as a whole for a percentage.

No, big urban environments are bad (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 8 months ago | (#46334821)

The cost of living and working is substantially higher in NYC, Chicago, LA, DC, etc. than in their suburbs. It makes no sense for a company to move into NYC where the costs are so high when it can provide incentives to live and work 1 hour away where the costs are much cheaper. Everything from building costs to payroll costs will be lower and the people just as happy or more so because the lower pay will correspond with lower cost of living and stress.

Suburbs do have their own public amenities, so his argument is completely fallacious in that respect. I'm sure plenty of residence of Fairfax VA would find it hilarious that businesses that choose to locate there as opposed to downtown DC are "avoiding public amenities like restaurants and transit."

"blighted communities"? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 8 months ago | (#46334841)

> Googles and Apples of the world should 'locate themselves in existing urban communities. Ideally, in blighted ones,' says Dutta."

Yeah, that'll be a big attraction to hirees. "Come work at Google, in the armpit of Northern California. I love the smell of aged garbage in the morning."

Instead of trying to force or guilt companies into coming back to urban, why not try attracting them instead?

Re:"blighted communities"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335153)

Come work at Google, in the armpit of Northern California.

Nobody is suggesting that Google should move to Fresno. RTFA!

Move ur $ here where I can control u & me bene (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#46334847)

This clod is just upset they're doing it themselves instead of participating in the meme to have government provide the mass transit, when it magically becomes holy and good because the clod says so.

blighted urban area (1)

moke (574418) | about 8 months ago | (#46334871)

I lived and worked in downtown SF for 10 years. It's a complete shithole on market st. near the tenderloin and SOMA. I witnessed several daytime muggings, had my car window smashed and items stolen more than once while working late. Someone menaced me with a knife while walking home one night which prompted me to start carrying a 6 in folding knife with me everywhere. The worst thing is that it's never going to change as long as the city has tax dollars. Local government is corrupt and works closely to with corrupt non-profits to ensure the homeless/crime problems in the downtown area never get fixed. I don't blame tech companies for not wanting to locate in a city like San Francisco.

The declining suburbs....or not.... (4, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | about 8 months ago | (#46334895)

Almost daily I read something telling me that my car will become obsolete, my suburban house will plummet in value, and my suburban lifestyle is heading the way of the dodo. Meanwhile, the suburban neighborhood I currently live in didn't exist 10 years ago. Could it be that people actually like living in the suburbs?

The problem with this "urban utopia" concept is that cities suck. They are generally crowded, noisy, smelly, expensive, and all-around unpleasant. Sure, if you are young and don't mind having 3-4 roommates, or you are a history professor type that loves walking everywhere - they by all means - live in a city.

I loved NYC until I had to work there. Holy crap - what a disaster that place is. The experience was so bad, I ran to the suburbs to raise kids - and I'm never going back.

It's no surprise that tech companies, flush with cash, can seek better alternatives. I actually applaud these companies. There are talented employees all over the country - not just in cities. If companies want to bus in their workers - that's great. Government should just get out of the way and keep the roads paved.

Yeah right.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334903)

Just as a little counter point. In our fair city, the current fad is 'urban intensification'. As they build more and more apartment buildings, they pave everything because the 20 story buildings are shoulder to shoulder. So the huge trees are chopped down. In addition there is no way to cope with the volume of people needing to get in and out of these areas during rush hours. Public transit can't grow fast enough to cope. This is the standard nonsense that proponents provide. The reality is that public transit is insufficient.

The neighboring residential areas get deluged with people trying to flow out of the area during rush hours. What once was a beautiful downtown full with wonderful large trees is well on its way to the standard concrete paved, sunlight blocked, traffic jammed std ugly big city core.

Not saying that urban sprawl isn't a problem, just that those proposing the alternative gloss over significant problems. To me they are both equally poor situations and I hope that something truly better evolves.....

Missing the point (4, Insightful)

madopal (308394) | about 8 months ago | (#46334921)

I believe he's saying, "If you're bussing your employees from the city to the suburbs, why not put the company in the city?"

If people would RTFA:
"Members of the current generation of in-demand workers wants to live in a city like San Francisco. They prefer an urban lifestyle to a suburban one. They want to be able to walk to grocery stores, restaurants, theaters, etc. They prefer traveling to work using collective transportation, rather than driving -- perhaps, in part, because they can be productive on the way."

Because, if what everyone is saying is so true ("Why be in an urban hell?"), then why are there so many buses heading *from* places like SF to the 'burbs? Clearly the employees like the amenities that the urban areas provide, otherwise they wouldn't live there, and there wouldn't be enough employees to justify a separate bus system to move them to the suburban campuses, no?

And this is exactly what Twitter just did (got a sweet deal in The Mission, not exactly a wonderful area before), but that's created a whole host of other problems. However, rents have shot up, so what he's proposing is working there. Apartments are now fetching $2000/month+ rent in what was a cheap area. These companies have power, and when they bring that power, other businesses follow. And the point of the article is: if the employees recognize this and are living in the cities, why aren't the businesses going there?

Except he is wrong (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46335095)

More people are NOT moving to cities, in general. NY, where this person is from, is the exception.

http://www.newgeography.com/co... [newgeography.com]

backwards much? (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46334937)

A ton of these companies' employees live in the suburbs! I've never in my life heard of an employee living in the city and commuting out of it to a suburb to go to work at a mega corporation. They live in the suburbs! It's a shorter drive with less traffic! What kind of idiot would live in some dumpy, crime infested, noisy, overpriced city with no parking when their work is outside the city? That is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've heard today.

Yeah, Google should move to the inner city so their employees can drive an hour each way and stop at 50 stop lights on the way to work while enjoying such lovely sights as abandoned buildings and homeless people. And make sure you park your Lexus in the middle of the worst neighborhood regularly every single workday. That's safe.

Suburbs = cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334941)

Suburbs that can attract businesses to relocate are nascent cities themselves. He's asking you to trade small, new places with few urban problems for large older cruddy places with all the same problems they haven't been able to solve for centuries. No thanks.

Bad Experience (1)

lbmouse (473316) | about 8 months ago | (#46334975)

I worked for a Dot-com that shared the building with a methadone clinic. I would not recommended it.

Humm...Why not build in the City (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334987)

1. Downtown Real Estate, BIG $$$ per square foot, and other city related expenses.
2. How's the public Transit in the city? Good enough to ferry a few thousand workers (potentially), runs on a schedule that suits the workers needs for timing and flexibility? Has a cost that's cheaper than it would cost to drive (including Vehicle Fuel, Insurance, Up keep, parking)
3. Your Google's and Apples are BIG facilities, Space and Power Hungry
4. How is the infrastructure, its often better outside the city than in the city
5. Where do the workers live, if they are mostly in the suburbs, why force them into the city to work?

"preferably blighted ones" just where I want to w (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 8 months ago | (#46335021)

"preferably blighted ones". Yeah that's exactly where I want to work.

Poorly run public tranist (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46335027)

system says large companies should move to where we want to operate and pay to fix the city.

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335035)

...Cities are bad for companies. Especially in New York and California.

Incredible vitriol... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335041)

...coming form the commentariat here. Not really surprising, but apparently entirely missing the point. The point he's making is that companies in the tech sector - which generally try to make a big deal about sustainability - are locating away from existing infrastructure, which creates a whole host direct and indirect costs.

His point about community is also spot on. Why are Google and Apple and other tech companies running buses into San Francisco? Because their staff wants the advantages of urban living. There are still blighted cities in America, but the era of universal urban decay is over - East and West cost cities are seeing increases in population and business activity. Today's 20 and 30 year olds don't see cities as irredeemable hellholes, but as vibrant, convenient communities. They'll take the downsides of urban living if it means they're not commuting an hour each way in traffic and can walk to various amenities. That kind of vibrant urban community depends on interaction. It's in distinct contrast to the suburban bubble model, which is what the tech companies are building.

nyc will be under water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335045)

According to the mayor NYC will be under water due to global warming' so smart to stay away.

urbansmurban (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335061)

How are suburbs old/bad news? If google moves to a suburb then the entire community will be comprised of google workers(not unlike coal towns of past). My own community growing up had two main employers in town, a penitentiary and Intel which led to a very high income nice place to live.

I don't think you understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335063)

Business doesn't get to decide where the best place for them to locate is... the government's central planners know much better than they do!

Good idea! Gentrification is awesome. (1)

envelope (317893) | about 8 months ago | (#46335067)

Move the tech companies into town and shortly none of the current residents can afford to live there.

Common sense really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335069)

It is really, really short-sighted to build major facilities far away from higher order transit. It happens simply to take advantage of externalities. Google and others build away from elsewhere because it shifts the full cost of low-density development onto the public.

I find the other comments here overwhelmingly miss the point. Yes, America is all about suburban development and cheap energy. But it doesn't scale, and it's already well past its heyday.

It's not the buses themselves... (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about 8 months ago | (#46335073)

The core problem that I think is being addressed is this -- if your urban area doesn't have a good mix of uses (work, leisure, living space, etc.) then it eventually starts decaying. San Francisco is the exception to this rule...the Google and Apple employees want to live the hipster city lifestyle and make enough money to do it. These companies save on insane SF rents by locating out in the suburbs where land is a little cheaper. The same is happening with the big investment banks in NYC -- there's no longer a physical reason to be right next to the stock exchange (though your data center still needs to be.) A lot of banks relocated further uptown, or to NJ or CT especially after 9/11. The difference is that there aren't "Goldman Sachs buses" or "UBS buses", but most people employed at these places have enough money to live wherever they want and commute on their own.

Other "less desirable" cities have the problem of people not wanting to live in the urban core, the reverse of what's going on in San Francisco. I've never actually been to San Jose/Cupertino/Mountain View/wherever in SV, but I imagine it's something like where I live (Long Island, suburban NYC.) We have some very nice places on LI and other communities surrounding NYC, but it's mostly very expensive sprawly development you find around most big cities. Tons of people use public transportation to get into the city every day, mainly because much of the area was at least somewhat designed around it. There are big employers on Long Island too, but not as many reverse commuters. The problem is, if businesses are downtown but _everyone_ goes home to their suburban towns after work, nothing is left to prop up the city center after the offices are done for the night. Google and Apple want to attract the hipsters, so they choose to ferry them from their hipster neighborhoods to the relatively boring suburbs. Most other employers in most other locations cater to the suburbanites, As a result, those cities' urban cores decay and become shells after 6 PM on weekdays. Fewer residents --> fewer businesses to cater to their needs --> crime and urban decay. Look at Buffalo and Detroit as extreme examples of this -- the suburbs surrounding the city have basically become the only sustainable parts of the city. Atlanta is basically a city of suburbs with no comprehensive public transportation and nightmare traffic as a result. Urban planning is really tricky to get right.

It's not an easy problem to solve. Everyone wants it both ways -- the 2 acre mansion PLUS the urban hipster bar/club scene. But the MTA is right in saying that Google buses are bad for (most) cities. The most sustainable development is a mix of uses in both city and suburban settings.

hmmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335103)

' tech companies seem not to have gotten the memo that suburbs are old and bad news,'

Well ok, you must have not gotten the memo on how big cities are over priced, over taxed - cesspools..

Thank you kindly, but Ill take my suburbs any day.

Google Buses.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335105)

As someone who was recently visited San Francisco for a prolonged period of time, here's my take on the whole Google Bus fracas:

1. There is very little affordable housing in San Francisco.
  A. Rents for $3K/month are not unheard of. This is a combination of greed on the part of the property owners and the county's ridiculously high property tax rates.
  B. City planning commission approval for any project is long, drawn out, costly affair, and seems to follow a "Build nothing, anywhere, for any reason" policy. It has actually forced the elimination of planned affordable housing in order to make a project "fit" its vision.
  C. NIMBYs in the local neighborhoods block everything left, right, and center to preserve their property values.
  D. If the planning commission approves it, the builder then has to get the local NIMBYs to approve it.
2. Because of 1, there is a huge amount of competition for any housing, let alone affordable housing, in the San Francisco area.
3. Because of 1 and 2, a huge population is forced to commute from the housing they can just barely afford to their low paying jobs.
4. Google and the other tech companies actually pay pretty well, so their employees can afford to pay the ridiculous rents that non-rent controlled affordable housing commands, thus providing the property owners with income that counter-balances the ridiculously high property taxes that SF charges.
5. Because of 4 and 1A, a huge number of property owners are more than willing to charge what the market will bear for rents.
6. Because of 5, lower-income people can't find affordable housing
7. Each Google Bus removes 120 cars per day from the roads, lowering commute times and traffic congestion (which has NOTHING on Seattle, btw.)
8. Because of short-sight policies (1, 2, 3), and people who don't understand the phrase "unintended consequences," San Francisco itself has created the mess that Google and other employers are attempting to alleviate through the buses.
9. I am damn glad I do not live in San Francisco, where you just about have to get the approval of your neighborhood NIMBYs in order to put a lawn gnome next to your rosebush - because they are absolutely terrified that any "improvement" to the neighborhood will either increase (result in higher property taxes) or decrease (lessen the enventual resale value) of their property.

Gotham (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335107)

If only the Wayne family still had money.

Translation: Move to the cities so we can tax you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335113)

We have no power in the 'burbs....

Do any of you actually live in cities? (1)

Ma'at (68095) | about 8 months ago | (#46335137)

The comments so far seem ludicrous. This isn't about a government shakedown or some other Libertarian fever dream, it is about putting people's workplaces near where they live, which saves time, energy, and money and generally makes people happier. The problem with Google, Apple, and the other Bay Area tech companies is that their employees live in the urban core, but they work out in the suburbs. This drives up property values downtown, but deprives the city of the tax revenue that it needs to support the tech workers living environment. If Google and Apple were downtown in high-rises instead of sprawing suburban campuses, more employees could bike or walk to work, spend their lunch breaks in the city they live in, and the rest could get to work on existing public transit instead of having to run two sets of buses on the same streets. Suburban campuses are great for companies whose employees live in the suburbs, but it makes more sense for urban employees to have urban employers.

This is all about power (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 8 months ago | (#46335145)

Anyone find it more then a little self serving that the leaders of dense urban cities are saying suburbs are bad?

Why then does anyone move to them? Why do people live in them? Sure, cities have lots of nice things. But they also have things that suburbs do not. Such as backyards. Parks that aren't full of hobos. Quiet streets where your children can play without instantly dying.

How many people in NYC enjoy a weekend BBQ with friends? Pretty much none.

So why is google in one place rather then another? Space... building their complexes in San Francisco would be prohibitive. And more importantly... san francisco is a hassle. You have problems there that you don't have in the suburbs. Such as thousands of bicyclists intentionally trying to slow traffic down... ON PURPOSE. Which is a thing in san francisco.

And so with that and the various transit unions acting up... google decided to run their own shuttle service to help their employees get to work.

Reasonable.

And what do we get out of the urban leaders? "this" shit.

I hope cartoon lightening strikes them from comic little thunder clouds... and gets them all sooty.

creakheads (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 months ago | (#46335157)

duh, programmers make enough money that they can afford to live and work in places they don't have to worry about getting mugged by some crackhead

yea let's open up a corporate office right in the middle of some section 8 apartments.
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