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Menlo Park should not welcome Facebook

Original post made by looking on, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Jan 7, 2011

I just read where our City Manager said he would be delighted if Facebook were to come into the Sun Micro campus.

Why!

Does he think the City is going to enjoy a boost in its sales taxs. Hardly. Facebook makes it money from advertising on the internet. No sales taxes on those revenues.

Then you read about neighbors complaining about Facebook and all the problems being around them.

The Sun campus is a bit over 1 million sq. feet. Facebook crams its workers into "cubby holes". They might be able to squeeze 1 worker / 100 square feet. That would mean 10,000 more workers to Menlo Park. Maybe that's exaggerating a bit, but 1 worker / 200 square feet, would mean 5,000 more workers to Menlo Park -- very doable.

Then talking with some Facebook people, they are looking not only for the existing 1 million sq. feet, but expect to need 2 million plus square feet within a couple of years.

Let Facebook move to the green pastures of San Jose with all its masses.

Come on Rojas and Dave Johnson, get with it.

Comments (40)

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Posted by david
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 7, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I have been watching the Facebook explosion on CNBC and I don't want anything to do with it. Mark Zuchenberg has been sued for stealing some of Facebook's original ideas from collaborators who were his Harvard "friends". Also, this guy's word regarding privacy matters are suspect according to some investigative reports. It is my understanding that 70% of Facebook users live outside the United States. My adult children also told me that applying for jobs with some indiscret adolescent moments on Facebook can be a negative in any job market. And, then there is the issue of people not using their real names. `Oh, and Golden Sachs is "in bed" with them.


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Posted by david
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Sorry, I meant Goldman Sachs.


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Posted by Say no to facebook
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 8, 2011 at 9:49 am

Why do you think Palo Alto is saying no to Facebook? It is certainly the lame statement, that they don't have the capacity to accommodate them. No, it because its a bad deal for Palo Alto --- let Menlo Park have them.

Wise up MP management.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I'm reminded of the refrain that "we could run a very nice hotel if not for the guests."

Yes, why would any city want to house a rich, expanding business? Are you kidding??? Who do you think employs your neighbors? Yes, they do pay taxes - property taxes through their leases, sales taxes from their purchases, and taxes paid by their employees who have to eat and shop at our local businesses. And in addition to good paying jobs for their executives, engineers and associates, they employ IT services, electricians, cleaning services, clerks, interns, landscapers, contsruction workers, secretaries, accountants, food service staff, and security people. I thought we wanted these kinds of businesses - FaceBook isn't exactly a rust-belt industry with belching smoke stacks.

But let's let the FaceBook cash machine move to Nevada like everyone else and wave goodbye to their revenues, jobs and tax payments. Soon enough you can have your little utopia and discover that there are remarkably few employers, employees and other taxpayers to support those teachers, firemen, police and local businesses you cherish so much.

Menlo Park does not have to echo California's leadership as the most business unfriendly state in our union. How's that exodus of businesses been working out for us?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Such a bunch old cronies. PA is desperate to keep them and any old timer that tells you different is without a long-term future here and without kids growing up here.

Keep doing what you are doing, MP. Do not lay down to these no birds.


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Posted by dumb and dummer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

POGO and Truth(unTruth as been previously noted)

You both know Jack nothing. PA wants them gone and has told them such.

I don't care to see MP or live here because Rojas and crew seeking to protect their jobs with more work for staff and ever higher and higher salaries want to place the burden of oppressive traffic and un-met housing demands on its residents.

You both sound like cronies of Bohannon and the development community, which like David Bohannon has now shown in his $60 / vote buy off of the community for his "Gateway" project should let the community know where you stand.

If you want to live in a San Jose type environment, then you move. (more than likely you don't live here anyway)


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm

dumb and dumber:

[Portion removed; be respectful of other posters.] Having Facebook here would be great. It would bring a great deal of associated income to the city from sales taxes generated from business associated with supplying these people with the things they will need. If you don't think that is good for Menlo Park, [portion removed}.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm

D and D -

[Portion removed; be respectful of other posters.]

First, I never said PA wants FaceBook. You may want to read my comment before telling me and others what I said, DD.

Second, I did say that we could run a heckuva hotel if not for the guests. Those nasty employers you seem to despise are the ones that hire people, pay them handsomely, pay taxes and support a lot of local businesses.

So I have two questions for you, DD. Where do you suggest our out-of-work citizens and new graduates seek jobs? Where do you suggest we get some much needed tax revenues to pay our teachers, firemen and police?

And I do live and work in the area.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

PA is trying to keep them. Read the reports for crying out loud. The next great Silicon Valley company behind Google and the old cronies of MP don't want them. Ask these guys what they want and they say Town & Country, one story retail. But somehow they don't see that Town & Country is subsidized by big parking, Stanford and hotels and downtown with major retail.

They cry about the potholes. They cry about the crime. They want all sorts of city services, but don't want city employees. They pay 1975 pre prop 13 taxes and cannot stand seeing the new families and the new homes that come with them.

They don't want new schools and opposed Encinal, Oak Knoll and Hillview. They don't want to think regionally, only locally. They don't like big new gyms. They want to keep downtown old and isolated. Merchants need more people, but that means housing. So they oppose it.

This is what we are dealing with folks. It is a generational fight for the future of our city.

Stand firm. They don't use Facebook and don't understand what it could mean, except change, which is scary.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

Truth - I agree with your assessment that there are many people who simply do not want change, ANY change. However, I do not think it is an age issue as much as a mind set. There are many of us older folks who are constantly pushing for change.

I for one would love to see Prop 13 phased out for residential properties over 5-10 years and for commercial properties immediately. Why should my new neighbors pay 10 times what I pay in property taxes for exactly the same services?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

As much as I have personal mixed feelings about FB, as a move to MP, it would be a business boon. Yes, it would be a big bummer for traffic since many FB employees are local who would drive in. I live in EPA & would likely be effected by the traffic & at times I've been resistant to change because I remember the good ol' days growing up in MP & PA. But those days are over, this is part of Silicon Valley & the economy is struggling mighty. The changes we've seen in the last few years have many permanent components, which is frightening.

We are also in a major metropolitan area, one that has poor public transportation & thus, bad traffic. But think of the positives, such as improving the economics of surrounding businesses, the hiring of locals & young grads, that there is so much built on the Sun campus it excellent reuse & FB has been innovative in cutting down on employee traffic. Menlo could do a LOT worse.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2011 at 11:34 am

Why, Peter:

"I for one would love to see Prop 13 phased out for residential properties over 5-10 years and for commercial properties immediately. Why should my new neighbors pay 10 times what I pay in property taxes for exactly the same services?"

God bless ya, I didn't know we agreed on anything!! Fully agree though I would not have a problem phasing out the residential portion even slower. Folks are wrong: it IS a revenue problem. Has been since the 80's and this depr/rec-ession exacerbates it.

And Pogo nails it: why on earth would MP turn away a good business partner? Especially a pre-IPO slam dunk like this?

G'day gents!


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Facebook would do little to help Menlo Park. Any business occupying the SUN site would have employees who might eat around here. What matters it that the business itself provide support to the city. With a small industrial area that increasingly is filled with businesses that do not pay sales tax revenue, the city must wake up to the need for revenue sources. Menlo Park needs sales tax revenue. Facebook would provide little.
Property taxes are limited by Prop 13, and will never increase as fast as the city costs do. The city leaders need to wake up, and they need to hold both the city manager and "business development" manager accountable for increasing city revenues while also managing costs much better.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Its the revenue states:"Property taxes are limited by Prop 13, and will never increase as fast as the city costs do."

The immediate solution to this deficit is not more future revenue but lower current expenditures. When the city has the cash in hand from new revenue sources then they might want to think about increasing expenditures; until then the only answer is to cut expenditures.


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Posted by same old same old
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Great to see 'Anti' Cohen's Kitchen Cabinet at it again! If you were wondering whether they learned anything from the awkward "No on T" and Chuck Bernstein Council campaigns, the answer is apparently 'no'. By all means, please ramp up the tone-deaf anti-Facebook rhetoric, and let us know how that works out for you.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I agree with Peter Carpenter that the immediate attention should be on reducing and managing expenses. This thread started about the suitability of Facebook at the SUN site. Decisions today can very much determine future revenue sources and amounts. To ignore this is naive.

To same old same old, you seem to have no clue about how budgets work or how land use issues affect them. The issue has nothing to do with past political campaigns or your humorously mistaken perception of other writers in this thread. Personal attacks are unwarranted.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Facebook, like Google and Apple and H-P are like queen bees in their respective business markets. They attract alternative business that provide services, products and innovation and they want to locate near the queen. This is a fact with far too many obvious points to prove. Facebook will attract others and many revenue producers at that.

Don't be fooled by this congestion white wash. These anti-growth guys just want to scare you into doing nothing.

Menlo Gateway proved them to be in a major minority.


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Posted by waah
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

"it's the revenue", I'm sorry you had your feelings hurt! I for one really, REALLY hope you don't get discouraged. By all means, please use all of your immense political capital and incredible interpersonal skills to oppose one of the world's most popular companies coming to a part of town that needs reinvestment and activity. Remember: Bohannon won 64.5% of the votes because he paid for them and because Menlo Park voters are not educated enough to make up their own minds. It's certainly not because you are an isolated group of pessimistic naysayers.

I hope sarcasm doesn't violate the Almanac Terms of Use.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

So please explain the economics. If Facebook fills the largest commercial property in town, and provides no sales tax revenue, how is revenue to be generated for the city? I don't buy for a second the lame argument that other businesses that do generate sales tax revenue will come to Menlo Park just to be next door to Facebook. Really?

And how is it that being pro-revenue is labeled as "anti-growth"? Really?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

It's the revenue, as is common with all opposition in his/her group, wants to create unwinnable scenarios. Let me explain. First, oppose Menlo Gateway on its carbon footprint. Then oppose it on traffic. And finally, say "we need to get a share of the profits" and make it sound like it happens all the time. That "profit share" position was the unwinnable and it fooled a bunch of people into thinking it was actually doable. It was a red herring to kill the project.

Now it is about revenue producing companies. They say this like they have one in hand to give to MP. What company? Where? When? There is no company and they have no idea how to get this revenue producer, but they say it like it just happens if you sit idle on millions of square feet of property.

Sorry, that is another unwinnable. There are maybe ten companies in our area that can buy, upgrade and use that Sun Campus. One of them wants to sell it. One of them wants to buy it and move in.

That is a win for MP. A huge win. More people, improved services in my community down here and a brand name draw.

Win.

And 65% of the people would agree, if you want to bet one too.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm

excuse me "truth" but you seem to be attributing all sorts of motives and past positions to me that are not applicable to me. What's with the labeling?

Let's stick to the issue here - what is the ideal occupant of the SUN facility? I say it is not Facebook because it won't provide revenue to the city beyond that which any business occupying the site would (such as employees who might dine locally). I do not see that city leaders are even attempting to recruit the kinds of businesses that help sustain the city's finances. It's an extremely serious issue.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Let me get this straight.

No big box stores.

No car dealerships.

No Bevmo.

No liquor stores.

No Facebook.

Maybe it would be easier to list the businesses you WOULD allow.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

POGO - not sure who you are asking, but for the SUN site, what's wrong with a real corporation that sells THINGS (not services) to other businesses? That would be ideal.

Otherwise your questions are good for the city to discuss.

BTW - I'm ok with big box, electronics stores (what about Apple or Fry's?), car dealers, BevMo, furniture stores, phone stores (why aren't there any in Menlo Park?)


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm

it's the revenue -

My point is that Facebook is interested in renting this space. A furniture store and all of the other possible firms you mention are not.

If you were the landlord and you had a willing and able tenant ready to lease your space, I don't think you would appreciate some citizens saying you shouldn't lease it to this tenant or that tenant, because they don't like someone's product or business model. You know it isn't easy to find good, paying tenants these days. Are these concerned citizens prepared to pay the landlord for their lost rent?

Unless someone is prepared to lease the Sun space, I think they should let the free market work. That's the way it works in America. Facebook has the means, they appear to be a good employer and they don't pollute. And I have no idea why people are saying they don't pay taxes... Facebook revenues are apparently around $2 billion and, by all appearances, they are highly profitable.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

POGO -
First the free market got us into the economic crisis the country is in so that argument is weak.
Public Finance 101 - The city gets revenue from property taxes and sales taxes. Property taxes increase only when property changes hands and annually at a very low rate because they are governed by Prop 13. Sales taxes are not limited by Prop 13, and are paid (for the most part) where the sales are based. Companies and firms that provide services do not generate sales taxes so the city would get minimal revenue from a company that earns lots of income for itself and its shareholders. The more venture capital, law, banking, internet, etc. firms the city hosts, the more difficult it is for the city to generate revenue for the services the residents and businesses expect.

The city's business development manager should be wooing companies that generate sales tax revenue.


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Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2011 at 8:39 am

When you mention the City Development manager, I just cringe. The position has been an outright disaster. Rojas refuses to make any changes.

Dave Johnson's position should be eliminated. This was all started by the Jellins/DuBoc/Winkler group who for pro business at any cost created this position. What has it brought the city, except for a highly paid position that has accomplished nothing.

Menlo Park doesn't need this position. If we had a good Chamber of Commerce, they would be doing that job just fine. Instead we have a social club, that tried to stifle opposition to the Bohannon project, (along with Mr. Johnson).


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 12, 2011 at 10:23 am

Great advice looking on. Oh wait, it wasn't advice, it was another string of complaining with no offer of ideas.

That is what we need, another complainer with no idea, just complaints.

I suggest you do your homework a little to find out what exactly the job entails. Why don't you call and talk to him? See what it is that he does.

And call other cities, do some homework on what they do and if they have a person in the same position.

Then come back here with ideas not just another nasty gram.

It is either take down the council or take down the city staff. Over and over and over.

Tiresome.


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Posted by Marcy Magatelli
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

All these "no, no, no" to everything folks remind me of a game we played, as kids, called "King of Bunker's Hill". The goal was for someone to get to the top of the hill, then fight off everyone else, in order to remain the only one on top! I wonder how these (no to everything)folks got here, themselves?? Someone had to let them in, right? I wager none of them can boast a 3-generate legacy, lik the Bohannan's can. I suggest they buy up all the unused properties, pay top dollar in property taxes, maintain them and then sit on them and keep saying "no" to everyone who wants to rent them! Nothing like a little dose of reality (and financial burden)to help one's ideology! I own a retail business in Menlo Park, and the people who come into town, to work here, DO spend their money here on things other than just lunch! They buy gas, get their hair cut, drop of the dry cleaning, buy gifts, clothes, etc. just ask the local merchants.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Yes, the employees of ANY business could spend their own money in town.
No one is arguing for businesses not to have employees.
It is the business sales tax revenue that really matters to the city, and some businesses provide it and some don't. Marcy's does, on the materials, not the services. Facebook would not.
If they come, they come. But, it would be great if the city leaders tried harder to encourage non-service businesses. There are plenty around, especially in technology of all sorts.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm

"But, it would be great if the city leaders tried harder to encourage non-service businesses. "

How do you know how hard they try to get those kind of businesses to come here? Oh, that's right, you don't.


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Posted by Entertained
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm

My oh my! Thank goodness weapons cannot be used on the internet. Some of the words in this conversation are deadly on their own. Please remember we can be civil, disagree and have a conversation all at the same time.


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Posted by Ethan
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm

So a local company with $2 billion in sales revenue pays no local taxes whatsoever? Instead of ostracizing the company because it provides a service instead of a product, maybe we should revisit our obsolete tax laws.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm

it's the revenue -

I'm not going to lecture you on the merits of the free enterprise system while you sit ensconced in the comfort of a very expensive residence in one of the nation's most affluent neighborhoods. Really?

Am I to assume that if, in your business (whatever it is), a group of "concerned citizens" wanted to deny you the opportunity to receive compensation for the perfectly legal and legitimate sale of your product or service, you would be perfectly fine with it?

You see, you conveniently ignored my question, so I'll try again. If you are going to deny a landlord the opportunity to enter into a legal, lucrative contract with a legitimate, paying tenant, are you prepared to compensate the landlord for their lost rent?


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Posted by The Voice
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

Facebook brings people who spend a part of their money in MP. Its great advertising for our city. Its not new growth. We are replacing what was lost for our city. You west side clowns are killing our city. El Camino looks like shit and its your fault! Oh yea the owner of the property can lease it to whom they want. Better yet how bout we tell people who they can sell their homes to!


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

Ethan - Yes, a company can earn $2 billion in revenue but pay almost no taxes that help the city coffers. Services are not taxed in California.

Cities manage through land use policies what types of businesses and residences go where. That is one way Menlo Park can manage potential revenue. Menlo Park has not distinguished between offices that might generate sales tax revenue and those that would not. It could but does not.

The Voice - Facebook will not replace revenue to the city. El Camino properties are privately owned, with Stanford the biggest property owner of vacant properties. Have at it!


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

See the emptiness of the argument? Facebook doesn't provide direct revenue, so we should say no. But no idea on what they think should be there. It is not like Cisco or Intel is shopping, because we would know if they were.

This is such a classic MP no growth argument. Get a share of profits, just say no if no revenue, it isn't right for us, it is not a fit...all no win arguments.

Not an idea, just an argument and an ideology.

Keep moving forward MP. 62.5% of voters made it clear the no growth rhetoric is out of touch.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm

it's the revenue -

You seem to have all the answers... but you ignored my question again.

If you are going to deny a landlord the opportunity to enter into a legal, lucrative contract with a legitimate, paying tenant, are you prepared to compensate the landlord for their lost rent?

Bawk, bawk x 3.


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Posted by it's the revenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I am not "no growth", just pro-revenue.

POGO - who said anyone wanted to deny a landlord a legal contract? Not I, or anyone else in this thread.
Stop making up false arguments.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

it's the revenue -

Actually, you said "Menlo Park has not distinguished between offices that might generate sales tax revenue and those that would not. IT COULD BUT DOES NOT. [emphasis added]

You said it, itr, you own it. It's far from a false argument to the property owner who has a bonafide tenant in hand.

So I'll try a fourth and final time: If Menlo Park does impose those limits you noted above on this property owner, should that owner be compensated for losing this tenant?


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Posted by Doctrine of Relation Back?
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Seem to recall city acting as Redevelopment Agency for this old Raychem vacant parcel entering into at least a 20-30 year agreement for revenue subvention to the Redevelopment Agency (to be used at its discretion to upgrade the Belle Haven neighborhood)
Questions arise as to the status of the County Assessor's revaluation of the property since the Oracle buyout of Sun.
Questions arise as to the status of Mp Redevelopment Agency if the Guv Budget is enacted which eliminates Redev. Agencies as legal, tax collecting, bond selling agencies.
What authority do the "successors in interest" have in legal capacity?
Would like some legal insight as to vacation of a sales tax producing entity Sun Micro under contract with MP Redev. Agcy. to be replaced by a non sales tax producing, but arguably a "Social Network" enhancing enterprise like FBook, in the upcoming state budget dismantling of Redev. Agency authority.


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