Facebook Bribes Menlo Park With Jobs, Computers and Elves


Facebook may get Menlo Park to lift a 3,600-employee cap for its proposed expansion in the city, after residents and business owners packed a public hearing to show their support for the social network.

"I'm here tonight at the Facebook lovefest to say how excited we are about having Facebook in our community," Sharon Williams, executive director of the nonprofit JobTrain, told the San Jose Mercury News. Facebook not only made a pledge of cash for its job training programs, but also sent employees dressed as elves to JobTrain's winter party for children.

Facebook also has "begun showering the community with goodwill" by giving schools computers, donating to charitable organizations and sending off its employees to volunteer.

Maggie Creighton, the coordinator of the Exploratory Experiences program for students, told the Almanac that Facebook employees have already volunteered in nearby schools and giving tours to students. "I think we should support them in every way possible," she said.

So why is Facebook working so hard? Because the tech company wants to expand its current 2,000-employee headquarters at the former Sun Microsystems campus to 6,600 workers by 2015. It also has plans to add another 2,800 staff members by 2017 at an adjacent West Campus. Right now, though, the City of Menlo Park has a 3,600-employee cap to prevent traffic congestion and other perceived problems.

The meeting on Monday night focused on potential environmental impacts on the expansion (click here for the project's draft environmental impact report) but the public comment period has also been extended a week. The city's planning commission is also continuing discussion on the subject in a study session today.


To get the 3,600-employee cap lifted, Facebook has to show it can limit the number of cars entering and leaving its main campus. . . . Company officials have pledged that employees would share rides, take shuttles or walk and bike to work, and have agreed to pay fines otherwise and make significant intersection improvements to offset increased traffic.

It will still be a few weeks before the city has to make a decision on the project, so Facebook better get ready to sign a few more checks and clock those volunteer hours.
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