« High Cost Rail - Part 138 Transbay White Elephant | Main | Let's make some noise »

September 17, 2017


J. Mir

ahh yes, the dreaded "San Carlos Transit Village"... While I'm not generally anti-development like everyone else on this board, i however must drive by that monstrosity several times a week and it frightened even the likes of me. Will it be as ugly as the one at Fruitvale? Who knows. People are so desperate for housing there - large numbers of renters in SC, they might just be the next city to get agitated about rent control. Get ready Sequoia HS 200 more kids coming your way next year.


It might be time to get on the program, J. Mir. When your skin crawls it is time to rethink not being anti-development. How about pro-being able to drive somewhere?


San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo has a piece in the WSJ this week titled "Why I'm not bidding for Amazon's HQ" where he writes:

Several reporters have asked me what subsidies my city of San Jose may offer to attract Amazon’s new headquarters. My response? None.

Recently, states and cities have been luring companies with subsidies. Wisconsin wooed electronics manufacturer Foxconn with a $3 billion taxpayer-funded dowry. Iowa gave Apple $213 million in state and local tax incentives to bring a 50-job data center to the state. The commonwealth of Massachusetts and city of Boston brought General Electric headquarters to Beantown with a $145 million incentive deal.

Don’t get me wrong, Amazon is a wonderful company. Any mayor would embrace the economic vitality of a company branch with 50,000 employees and an anticipated investment of $5 billion. San Jose has benefited from the recent arrival of Amazon’s Lab 126 research outpost.

But my city won’t be offering incentives to Amazon. Why? Because they are a bad deal for taxpayers. With many subsidies, the jobs a company brings to an area don’t generate revenues commensurate with public expenditures. The GE deal will cost taxpayers more than $181,000 for every job created in Boston. Most experts insist that other factors—particularly the presence of a skilled workforce—play a far larger role in determining boardrooms’ corporate location decisions. Moreover, some 95% of Silicon Valley’s job growth comes from new small-business formation and when those homegrown companies develop into larger firms.
So why do public officials throw away taxpayer dollars in subsidies while trying to promote economic development? Perhaps because they can. The subsidy represents something tangible that officials can point to as the factor that “sealed the deal” to create more jobs.

The harder work of investing public dollars in schools, infrastructure and amenities takes years of concerted effort but has far greater payoff. A healthy economic ecosystem that supports innovation and growth is what makes a community attractive to a company like Amazon.

There's a bit of commonsense emanating from the South.

Bruce Dickinson

Joe, it amazes Bruce Dickinson how much the technology zeitgeist in the Bay Area has gotten to the point of so much self-felicitations, self indulgence and and incessant perpetuation of this aura of invincibility. It is automatically assumed any company would "love the privilege of moving here". That attitude pretty much says the technology bubble is about to pop.

Let's sit back and think about it, for a moment. Why would Amazon want a Seattle 2.0? All the issues with the high cost of real estate, difficulty attracting talent due to real estate affordability, high rents, traffic/congestion, a lack of good public transportation infrastructure, competition for good public schools that are unable to support the growing population, etc are all made worse by moving to the Bay Area, not to mention the additional exposure to natural disasters (Earthquakes). The very fact that Amazon is even having a "contest" of sorts is an admission that it is NOT moving to the Bay Area, since if the benefits are so obvious, then just prepare to move there by talking directly one-on-one with Bay Area city officials.

So no, San Jose, Burlingame, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Redwood City, etc should just get these delusions of grandeur out of their minds and as Joe stated, start addressing the tough, real problems that face us today. Right now, having sufficient funding for schools, restraining unbridled growth, improving our roads and quality of life are important. Sure, you can support a much larger population here, but really do you want to live in the US version of Tokyo, London, or Hong Kong?

While Bruce Dickinson has spent much time in these places as well as dozens of others in my illustrious career, I can tell you exactly where I would want to spend most of my non-traveling time.

Hint: it's in the zip code 94010!

Bruce Dickinson

Listen folks, you know how Sting says "I'll always be King of Pain"?

Well, maybe it's time Bruce Dickinson says "I'll always be King of Prescience"!

As yours truly predicted, Amazon did not pick the Bay Area in it's "short list" of cities to locate its second headquarters.

So hopefully San Jose's mayor or John Horgan didn't lose too much sleep (or keystrokes) thinking/writing about something which pretty much had a zero chance of happening.

Moving on......

Do tax payers pay for economic development/ tax incentives?

"Wisconsin wooed electronics manufacturer Foxconn with a $3 billion taxpayer-funded dowry..."

Joe, while I'm not an economic development / tax incentive expert, do you really think that tax incentives really are paid for by tax payers?

Doesn't the govt entity see the decision as delivering huge, positive, incremental (new) benefits to the tax base and local economy?

Maybe I'm missing something from the concept that you can enlighten me about...


It's a matter of how much incremental there is in incremental benefits. If the benefits come soon enough (time value of money spent vs received back) and the incented business delivers in jobs and taxes then it sort of works but only because the base tax rates there and elsewhere (the competitive municipalities) are uncompetitive. Easier to fix the overall rates than do selective incentives that are ripe for abuse. See the repatriated offshore funds as exhibit A.

Bruce Dickinson

"King of Prescience" strikes again! (see Oct and Jan posts above) Folks, what you are seeing right before your eyes, is the technology and real estate bubble popping in real-time.

Don't say that Bruce Dickinson didn't warn you!


I think Bruce is referring to the Bay Area thankfully NOT being on the finalist list:

The 20 potential cities are:

Columbus, Ohio
Los Angeles
Montgomery County, Maryland
New York City
Northern Virginia
Washington, D.C.

GO NEWARK!! You all need it!

That and 2200 points off the Dow in two days make the point.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast...

I'd bet on either Dallas or Nashville or Chicago due to their distribution hub advantages. Whichever city it is, Amazon probably already has a presence there.


Long Island City, NY and Crystal City, VA are the "winners". Some news reports say that NY is paying Amazon $78K per job to move there (in tax credits, etc). So glad we were not considered!


Hey, and we thought we had it bad....oh, wait, maybe we have most of the same issues?

"We have a crumbling subway system, record homelessness, public housing that is in crisis, overcrowded schools, sick people without health insurance and an escalating affordable crisis," said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat. "Is anyone asking if we should be giving nearly $3 billion in public money to the world's richest company, valued at $1 trillion?"

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About the Voice

  • The Burlingame Voice is dedicated to informing and empowering the Burlingame community. Our blog is a public forum for the discussion of issues that relate to Burlingame, California. On it you can read and comment on important city issues.

    Note: Opinions posted on the Burlingame Voice Blog are those of the poster and not necessarily the opinion of the editorial board of the Burlingame Voice. See Terms of Use

Contributing to the Voice

  • If you would like more information on the Burlingame Voice, send an email to [email protected] with your request or question. We appreciate your interest.

    Authors may login here.

    For help posting to the Voice, see our tutorial.