BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
During a luncheon with the Palo Alto Rotary Club, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, equated Facebook to a strip mining company.
Hill brought up strip mining after mentioning that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said Facebook will no longer expand in the Bay Area because of housing and traffic issues.
“The first thing that came to mind was ‘this sounds like strip mining.’ They come in and destroy a community and then they move out,” Hill told the group meeting at the Elks Lodge at 4249 El Camino Real on Monday (Nov. 25).
But Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison, when asked by the Post to respond to Hill’s comment, said that the social network company has been “investing in our community since we came to Menlo Park” in 2012.
Harrison cited the company’s funding of crossing guards, subsidizing teacher housing and being a partner with Year Up, a career training program for young adults. Harrison also pointed to Facebook’s announcement to spend $1 billion to build affordable housing in the Bay Area.
Zuckerberg’s comments that company wouldn’t grow further in the Bay Area came during an employee Q&A that was leaked to The Verge, the tech arm of Vox Media.
But those comments came after Zuckerberg’s company said it would expand to Sunnyvale and Burlingame. Facebook is also working on a mixed-use project called Willow Village featuring some 1,700 homes and 1.75 million square feet of office space off of Willow Road in Menlo Park.
Hill, a Rotarian himself in San Mateo, yesterday spoke to Palo Alto Rotarians about PG&E restructuring and his work to hold the utility accountable since the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion.
His comments about Facebook came during a preface to his PG&E talk when he discussed the one cent “mega measure” sales tax to fund transportation projects in the nine-county Bay Area that could land on the November 2020 ballot.
The one-cent tax would require approval by the Legislature before it could go to voters.
The tax would raise $100 billion over 40 years and be dispersed to different transit districts, such as BART and Caltrain. Caltrain officials have discussed dropping their plans to seek an eighth-of-a-cent sales tax in November 2020 they get funds from the mega measure.
Sales taxes, which are often used to fund Bay Area transportation programs, take a greater share out of the household budget of a poor family than they do a family that’s well off.
Hill said he’s concerned about who would be paying the mega measure, and mentioned that companies such as Facebook need to make their contributions to their community.