Compromise Is In Order For Tech,
By Stephen M. Lawton
companies seem to be in for some tough times here in California. Not only
must they battle for market share, they must battle the cities they call
home the very cities they put on the map.
The just-concluded election did little
to help them. Despite all the talk that tech executives heard when the
candidates breezed through town with their hands out, very little, if
anything, has changed.
In Congress, the state has several
representatives who have taken leadership positions we've profiled
some of them here in MicroTimes but our senators still don't
seem to recognize that technology drives our economy. While we must have
a diversified economy to protect ourselves from a recession, let's use
our vast technology resources as the bedrock on which to build the California
During recessions, cities beg companies
to build plants, create jobs and bolster their economies. Why not support
the companies that are already doing so here and now in these relatively
good times, too?
Locally, the technology engine is
sputtering as businesses battle various interests over the size and placement
of new facilities. In San Jose, for example, Cisco Systems wants to build
a new campus. Environmentalists claim that the development would harm
the environment and slow-growth advocates point out the lack of housing
and infrastructure in place to support the new jobs. Even municipal officials
as far south as Salinas are complaining that more high-paying technology
jobs will increase the cost of housing. Is there a problem with high-paying
In San Francisco, as in other Bay
Area cities, the government is trying to zone dot-coms and tech firms
right out of town. The argument is that they are making the cost of housing
and business rents too high.
We have a dilemma here, but excluding
companies through zoning is not the answer. Tech companies provide jobs
and opportunities. They provide the tax base we need to keep up our standard
of living. Of course, we have to preserve our environment. Of course,
we have to preserve the arts and nonprofit organizations. But if our economy
falters, will we have the funds for these endeavors?
We need to build up our infrastructure
to support the growth, including providing sufficient power, water, housing
and schools. If we can't learn to live with a mixture of industry, business,
residential and open space, we're going to drive our core tax base out
of California and into other states where technology parks now exist.
Our economic engine will be dead.
Instead of pitting the technology
sector against governments and "community leaders," it's time
for a summit to build a consensus for all of California. Without a plan
that manages growth, no company or community survives.