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Giving Compass' Take:
• This post explores the complications surrounding tech billionaires based in areas such as Seattle and San Francisco, assessing how much responsibility they may bear for affordable housing crises.
• From Amazon to Google to Salesforce and others, many companies are taking a close look at how their size and influence impacts the economy of communities. Will they engage in sustainable solutions?
For decades, technology entrepreneurs have established their headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, created products that changed the way we live, and reaped millions doing so. But at the same time, the cities around these companies have become harder and harder to live in. Housing prices and homelessness are rising, roads are clogged, transit is over capacity. Tech companies aren’t necessarily causing these problems, but they do have a lot more money than anyone else in today’s economy. So cities are asking those who benefit the most in this economy to pay more money to help solve urban and suburban problems.
Not all companies have proven willing participants. When Cupertino proposed charging companies, including Apple, $124 per employee to raise funds to relieve traffic congestion, Apple pushed back, saying it had contributed $70 million to “public benefits” over the course of completing its headquarters in Cupertino. Cupertino shelved the referendum until 2020. Amazon and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce lobbied so vociferously against a head tax passed in Seattle that the City Council repealed it less than a month after it was passed ...
But tech companies’ ability to decide what they contribute and don’t contribute to communities on their own terms may be ending. In San Francisco, Mountain View, and East Palo Alto, ballot referendums would impose additional taxes on big companies in order to solve problems related to a lack of affordable housing and funding for transportation. And tech companies are being forced to ask themselves whether they’re willing to play an active role in changing their neighborhoods, not just the world at large.
Read the full article about tech billionaires' obligation to cities by Alena Semuels at The Atlantic