PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — Silicon Valley may be known as the high-tech capital of the world, but one mayor says he’s had it.
To hear Mayor Patrick Burt tell it, Palo Alto has a problem: too many jobs, too many big tech companies. In fact, he believes the current growth pace of the tech economy in this region is currently at an unsustainable rate.
“I mean, healthy growth is a good thing,” says Burt. “Feverish growth over a long period of time actually starts to undermine the long term economic benefits.”
The mayor says big tech companies like Amazon and Palantir are buying up a lot of office space downtown.
“What they’re doing is squeezing out all the startup companies and the business services and the ecosystem that really made this a startup environment and instead it’s turning into a corporate campus for a couple of companies.”
The mayor says Palo Alto’s long term plan includes disincentivizing the building of office space and increasing incentives to build homes. The average house here costs $2.5 million , making it unaffordable for many.
“A number of communities that have had the greatest growth are now saying we need to have some degree of a planned future. We can’t be just the Wild West,” says Burt.
Perhaps it needs to slow down, although what you often hear politicians say is ‘we need MORE jobs.’
“But we have almost zero unemployment,” says Burt. “And the real truth is … we need as a country to look at how all areas start benefiting from the new innovation economy. Why should we hold on to every job and every dollar that can be squeezed out of the tech economy? It’s not healthy for us and it deprives other regions from having that opportunity.”
Burt, himself, is the CEO of a tech company, so he’s not anti-tech. He says he just wants to continue the city’s legacy as a haven for startups, and really manage the growth.