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'Google Buses' Are Bad For Cities, Says New York MTA Official 606

Posted by timothy
from the and-a-pony dept.
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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'Google Buses' Are Bad For Cities, Says New York MTA Official

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  • by eudas (192703) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:54AM (#46334615)

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

  • by mikehilly (653401) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:55AM (#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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:01PM (#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.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:37PM (#46336065)

        I agree that the buses are a great solution as I support all forms of public transportation but I think you lost me with the inner city squalor. I live in a city. Not SF but another major metro and I live five minutes from the subway in a condo in a restored victorian home. I'm not particularly looking for bars and dance clubs but I did move here for the subway access. 30-min. commute to work, easy to go to a nice restaurant without driving after drinking, lots of jobs, being able to walk to my bank, food store, mechanic etc. Perhaps you consider that squalor but I enjoy it alright.

    • by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:02PM (#46334721) Homepage

      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.

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:12PM (#46334857) Homepage Journal

        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.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:36PM (#46335191)

          Ummm... people move to the outskirts of a city so their kids don't have to fear getting mugged or shot in crossfire between inner city gangs. You cannot raise children in almost all US cities safely, so virtually any fit parent has to do the suburban thing so the strays the kid sees are puppies and kittens, not .40 rounds.

          Yes, city managers want employers in their cities. It means more revenue for them (taxes, fines, parking issues, etc.) However, a company is best served by having their campus well on the edge of a town for expansion reasons and the fact that they have a buffer between the city council and their politics and day to day functioning.

          Were I making a campus for a large company, I'd probably look how a city handles traffic. Being in Texas, I can compare Austin and Abilene for examples. Abilene can have their population double overnight and not have a major commute time increase. Austin has not done a significant traffic improvement since 1995 (other than Perry's toll roads), and has almost doubled in size. You bet if I had a choice to locate a business for people to be productive, it would be Abilene.

          • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:46PM (#46335347) Homepage Journal

            Ummm... people move to the outskirts of a city so their kids don't have to fear getting mugged or shot in crossfire between inner city gangs. You cannot raise children in almost all US cities safely, so virtually any fit parent has to do the suburban thing so the strays the kid sees are puppies and kittens, not .40 rounds.

            You are confusing the downtown (city core) with the blighted near-suburbs. Few cities have truly crime-ridden core areas, but many have suburbs that are so. They also have a core and near-suburbs that are much safer (and naturally higher cost) which is where the truly affluent (or perhaps single/childless) live, while the rest endure the commute in favor of the extra space they can afford in the far suburbs.

          • by Aaden42 (198257)

            people move to the outskirts of a city so their kids don’t have to fear getting mugged

            Citation needed... Cost issues are certainly valid, but I’d have little safety concern working and allowing my child to grow up in New York City as an example. I’m sure there are cities in the US I wouldn’t say that for, and I suspect there are cities that I’d feel even safer than NYC, but there’s no reason you need to move out to the suburbs to be “safe”.

            Safety is relative

          • not .40 rounds.

            Interestingly enough, the reason we're talking .40 rounds and not 9mm rounds is Clinton's assault weapon ban, which included a magazine limit of ten rounds.

            Alas, the 9mm pistols popular at the time had 13-22 round magazines. When retooling for ten round magazines, it just made sense to redesign the barrel for a larger, more powerful round at the same time. After all, if the magazine could hold 19 9mm, it could easily hold 10 .40 (or .45) as well.

      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        Yea, I'm sure the food options in Skid Row are superb. Crack laced rat burgers sound divine
        • by idontgno (624372)

          But think of the amphetamine-driven productivity!

          Oh, yeah, I can hear you thinking "But coders write terrible code under the influence."

          HAH! It's not like their output is any higher quality when they aren't riding the meth pony.

      • by NapalmV (1934294) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:18PM (#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.

      • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@NoSPAM.harrelsonfamily.org> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:20PM (#46334959) Homepage

        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.

        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:37PM (#46336061)

          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?

          Bullshit. The "green" thing would have been to put the office in a high-density area where the rail transit ALREADY FUCKING GOES!

          • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:31PM (#46336885) Homepage Journal

            Bullshit. The "green" thing would have been to put the office in a high-density area where the rail transit ALREADY FUCKING GOES!

            So, you're wanting to limit putting the office ONLY in about 3-5 US cities?

            I mean, how many US cities can you think of, that already have a viable rail transit system?? NYC? Chicago...SF if you count the cable cars I guess....where else?

            Hell, I've rarely lived in a city that had a viable bus line that you'd consider using for any type of real transportation, and the main one I can think of is a tourist city like New Orleans, and even that is hit and miss at times.

        • Ironically, in NYC Google paid $1.9B for the old Port Authority building in Manhattan, which is 2.9M sq. ft. I don't know why they took opposite approaches in SF and NYC.

          • by Rakishi (759894)

            Because most of Google's employees don't live in SF and commuting into SF is a giant cluster fuck. The same issue with moving people out of SF applies to moving people into SF.

        • 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?!

          The big problem is most cities are going to have to end up making most their streets mass transit or walking only. It's already happening in Portland.

          So to a city planner, working on an already tightly compact urban core, buses are better than cars... But if all roads could be eliminated in favor of only foot traffic, that is most ideal.

          Of course, that means having everything on needs, including work, in walking or at least light rail range.

          The other alternative that's been floated is that Google and Apple

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:25PM (#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.

        • by jwdb (526327) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:55PM (#46336341)

          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!".

          There is a middle ground, you know?

          That Frenchman probably lived in a "row" or "terraced" house: each house shares two walls with two neighbors. Very common in Belgium in all but the rural areas, and a far more efficient use of space. The houses are larger than those in Japan, so you don't feel like an ant.

        • by mikael (484) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @03:27PM (#46337613)

          It was the other way round. Ford (the automobile company) developed the production line so that everyone could afford a car and enjoy living in the city and being able to drive out in the countryside during the weekends. Then customers had a better idea. They would all live in the countryside and drive into the cities. That displaced the existing farm workers who then ended up moving into the cities, leading to blockbusting of luxury apartment blocks and white flight. Blockbusting meant that large comfortable apartments with four or more bedrooms were subdivided into smaller apartments.

          Meanwhile the oil and gas companies saw what was happening and gave things an extra push by closing down the tram and railway lines so that everyone had to drive a car to get to work. By the time everyone had moved out into the countryside, there wasn't any left, it had all become suburbs.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:40PM (#46335253) Homepage Journal

        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)

        Who the hell "likes" sharing walls with people?

        I personally was so happy when I could afford to live in stand alone houses. I now, don't have to listen to other peoples noise (stereo, crying babies, fscking, etc)...and I don't have to be terribly cognizant of my own levels of noise production.

        I like having a back yard, where I can plant and grow a nice sized vegetable garden, where I can set up my smoker and my grills....where I can set up my homebrewing apparatus, where I can set up and invite friends over for a large crawfish boil, etc.

        Why would I possibly, want to live in a smaller box, share walls, and have to squeeze all my outdoor fun on some small balcony, that in some places has regulations against open flame outdoor cooking?

        Living in a city can be fun for a young, single person on the move....they're usually out partying and not home that much, so who cares about the dwelling? But once you get a bit older, and maybe even have a family, you like to have a bit more privacy and room to stretch your arms and enjoy things more of a homebody style of living.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Who the hell "likes" sharing walls with people?

          No one. But it is the most efficient way to house people. A society where everyone owns a house and a yard is going to be wasting far more resources to provide the same level of services to those people than one where they live in large apartment buildings.

          Is that tradeoff worth it? Maybe. But it is a tradeoff, and leaves less economic output to spend in other areas. And it will only get worse with peak oil and the associated energy crisis.

          So if you like subur

        • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:53PM (#46336293)
          I have a solid state drive so my fscking is silent. You're welcome, neighbor!
        • I personally was so happy when I could afford to live in stand alone houses. I now, don't have to listen to other peoples noise (stereo, crying babies, fscking, etc)...and I don't have to be terribly cognizant of my own levels of noise production.

          Since I have kids, I also like having a house. The noise problem that so many people (especially me!) hate about apartments is unnecessary though, and could be fixed for only a few percent more in construction costs. I'd think it'd make business sense, as you could charge at least a modest premium if you advertised good soundproofing. My wife and I once lived on the 4th floor of a decently constructed apartment building. There was literally a baby's crib on the opposite side of the wall from the head of our

        • by jwdb (526327)

          Who the hell "likes" sharing walls with people?

          I have no problem with it, if it means I get to live in the city. It's a compromise.

          I personally was so happy when I could afford to live in stand alone houses. I now, don't have to listen to other peoples noise (stereo, crying babies, fscking, etc)...and I don't have to be terribly cognizant of my own levels of noise production.

          You need to insulate your walls better.

          I like having a back yard, where I can plant and grow a nice sized vegetable garden, where I ca

        • by Ichijo (607641) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @03:06PM (#46337359) Homepage Journal

          Who the hell "likes" sharing walls with people?

          People who don't like high utility and property tax bills, people who don't like to do lawn maintenance, people who don't like being forced to own a car, people who don't like the social isolation of living in the suburbs, and so on.

      • marketers decided every American should have a single family home

        And the mindless drones just unquestioningly followed the whims of the evil marketers?

        No. Single family homes have always been desirable for most people with kids, and even many without. Look at all the brownstones in NYC. They were originally single family homes for the (upper?) middle class. Now they're either carved into apartments, or sometimes inhabited by the wealthy, because that's the only way they're affordable.

        Having more area is nice, especially when you have kids. I'm not talking about 3000 sq.

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:22PM (#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.

      • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:33PM (#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.

      • 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.

    • by khr (708262)

      away from urban area ... cheaper food

      I live in a somewhat urban area (Midtown Manhattan) and as for restaurant food, there are more and cheaper options than farther out. Sure, there are expensive ones, but in the heart of the city I can easily get much cheaper restaurant food than in suburbs. There's a plethora of $1 a slice pizza joints (most suck, better to spend double that and go for $2 a slice places) or tasty, plentiful street food where a huge meal costs all of $6.

      Groceries to make your own food cost a ton more, though...

    • I would rather that a huge corporation like Google buy/rent an *existing* corporate campus, instead of building a brand new one. Isn't that far more ecologically sound?

      Last I checked, there is no large corporate campus vacant and available in San Francisco. (There's not a lot of vacant land to build a new one either).

    • by RogueyWon (735973) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:46PM (#46335345) Journal

      What we have in a lot of cities - and London is an absolute exemplar of this (New York isn't quite as bad) - is a model of urban development which, through pricing and housing availability, forces most people to live in suburbs but commute to work in the city centre.

      There are big, big drawbacks to that model.

      First, your average citizen wastes a lot of time commuting. While travel-time isn't necessarily dead time in either productivity or leisure terms, the nature of commuter mass-transit makes it worse than most other types of journeys. People are crammed into high density vehicles, may not have a seat and may need to make frequent changes of bus/train. It's not enjoyable and it's very hard to be productive while going through it.

      Second, it places huge strains on your transport networks. It channels most of your commuter traffic into two huge peaks (usually a very sharp morning peak and a longer but still significant evening peak). Road travel generally just can't cope with the resultant congestion. Railways (including underground and light rail) are more effective at moving large numbers of people but have very high fixed infrastructure costs (a mile of railway costs many times more per annum to maintain than a mile of road), meaning they inevitably require large taxpayer subsidies. Worse still, because of the "peaky" nature of commuter traffic, you have to spec your mass-transit systems to handle the peaks and accept that they'll be pulling around mostly fresh air for at least 18 hours every day.

      And all of that congestion? Pretty terrible for the environment. High carbon emissions and, if you're relying on cars, buses or diesel trains, horrible for air quality as well.

      Ideally, you want people to live close to their workplaces. Some cities are better at that than others - ironically, often those which have evolved without much assistance from urban-planners (who historically have loved to neatly segment industrial, commercial and residential districts apart - a trend that SimCity hardly helped reduce).

      So google-buses aren't necessarily fantastic either, if you're moving people a long distance to an out-of-town campus. They're probably better than the city-centre model, because their traffic is more likely to be contra-flow. But ideally, you might have small-to-medium sized business conglomerations around a city, each with appropriate housing nearby.

  • Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drewdad (1738014) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:57AM (#46334649)

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

  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:58AM (#46334655) Journal

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

    -jcr

    • Thank you for using language appropriately. I thought "apparatchik" was some kind of phone autocomplete problem, and forced me to look it up. Now I know a new word. Kudos!
  • Ya think so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by east coast (590680) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:58AM (#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.
    • 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.

    • hmmm, and yet thousands of their employees DO want to live in these horrifying places... stranger and stranger still.
    • by Idbar (1034346)

      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

    • More than that... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sl3xd (111641) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:43PM (#46335291) Journal

      He's saying that businesses should buy more expensive property at higher tax rates, in a slum, tear it all down, and rebuild everything new.

      In other words: these companies should take it upon themselves to finance urban renewal.

      Now I'm all for corporations being better citizens, and giving more back to the communities, but it is laughable to take an area the city can't take care of, and expect a corporation to somehow improve the area by moving in. Corporations aren't in business to make the area's neighborhoods better; that's the job of the city government.

      I've seen a number of big, respected corporations in slums. (The Prudential is HQ'd at Broad & Market in Newark - hardly a shining pillar of civilization). The proximity of the company did nothing for the area.

  • Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ysth (1368415) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:58AM (#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. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by therealkevinkretz (1585825) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:58AM (#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. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:14PM (#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.

      • 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.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          I don't think you've disproved my assertion at all. Those buildings aren't large enough, not even close. If they were large enough, then the rents inside those buildings would be cheap. But they aren't; they're very expensive. So while they may seem like large buildings, they're really not even close to large enough.

          BTW, corporate offices are necessary uses of space in cities anyway; those are where the people in the city are supposed to work. An urban utopia that people are dreaming about has to have

        • by afidel (530433)

          Uh, long term leases in the Willis tower are going for $15-20/sq ft, that means even my very modest 1,050 sq ft house with basement would be at least $2,625/month for the same amount of space, my mortgage is less than 1/5th that and it includes an acre of land as a free bonus.

  • 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
  • Translation: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joey Vegetables (686525) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:59AM (#46334679) Journal
    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.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      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 Connecti

  • True innovation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:59AM (#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.
  • Dutta == Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by byteherder (722785) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:01PM (#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.
    • Re:Dutta == Idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:20PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CronoCloud (590650)

      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.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:02PM (#46334729) Homepage Journal

    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?

    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KermodeBear (738243) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:05PM (#46334773) Homepage

    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.

  • 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 argum

  • > 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?

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:14PM (#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.

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by madopal (308394) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:18PM (#46334921) Homepage

    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?

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

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

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

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

  • 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 long

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:44PM (#46335303)

    "You're not paying our taxes, and it's not fair!"

  • by DriveDog (822962) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:00PM (#46335559)

    There's a lot to be said on all sides of this issue. But here's a point of view I see underrepresented: people who live in the city and commute away from it are supporting the city far more than those who live in the 'burbs and commute in to work. Buying lunch downtown during workdays is not a match for paying property taxes and having educated people vote for competent city officials (this isn't an argument to disenfranchise uneducated people, it's an argument to make sure everyone's educated, which also depends on a solid tax base).

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:24PM (#46335865)
    Maybe NYC and SF should build walls around their cities with barbed wire and mine fields to keep citizens from leaving. Then the companies will have to "pay their fair share". I hear it worked for East Germany.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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