What You Told Us...Should Tech Companies Provide Community Benefits?

Question: Should the large tech and social media companies now moving to Oakland be compelled to bring with them robust community improvement, philanthropy and job training programs?

By Conduit Staff

Consensus: There really wasn’t one this week, but most participants said they thought newly arriving corporations need to do more for the community.

One respondent, however, said no, that the companies should be left alone. He or she felt that just the injection of new, higher-paying tech jobs into the region will be the tide that lifts all boats.

“This is not a police state. With new tech jobs come workers looking to live close to their job (who) buy or rent in Oakland. (This will) push up homes values, making locals that own property wealthier.”

Yet another respondent made the point that it would be a mistake to depend on corporate philanthropy in support of community programs when those programs should rightly be organized and paid for by the city through taxes.

“Philanthropy never comes close to replacing inadequate government provided social benefits, so while it is nice, better is if the government gets enough money to cure social side effects.”

Yet others saw the matter from a different point of view.

“Yes. A resounding yes! I believe the so-called tech and media folks should have a solid, verified plan to address their projected long-term effects on the city (people) regarding all levels and tiers of citizens' welfare and future environmental impacts.”

One respondent was adamant that newly arriving companies must have a robust community philanthropy plan in mind and, if they don’t, the city of Oakland should require them to have one.

“If they want to be a part of Oakland they should act responsibly as a part of the Oakland community. Not just plop down their offices/business for whatever government perks they [receive] to move [here]. Walnut Creek required new businesses/buildings to have child-care centers on site and other qualifications I’m not aware of. Unfortunately they were not required to maintain these requirements for the long-term. If you are in a community, you should contribute to the well-being of that community.”

Another respondent said that yes, newly arriving companies should at minimum be held responsible for the negative impacts of their arrival to the city.

“Yes. Seattle, Washington, is leading the way. There, the huge number of Amazon employees have driven housing costs way beyond affordable; traffic is wretched and homelessness rampant. Because Amazon is not doing enough to address these issues, Seattle is taxing them $250+ per employee to provide funds to address these and other related issues.”

Finally, a respondent decried the tech sector’s notoriously poor diversity practices and suggested that city government at minimum require that the newly arriving companies have a plan on public file addressing the issue.

“It’s time industry complied with the community instead of the other way around. Study urban renewal and the damage caused by this kind of white migration. Don’t let history repeat, again and again and again.”