Facebook’s virtual reality division, Oculus, is currently negotiating with the city of Burlingame about moving to the Bayshore area within the next two years.
Facebook is eyeing the 767,000 square foot area at 300 Airport Blvd., which was formerly occupied by a drive-in theater, but was closed 10 years ago. The lot is currently under construction and will eventually boast six multi-story buildings that will host Facebook’s expanding operations. Main construction is planned to be finished in 2019, but a move-in date has not yet been set.
Cleese Relihan, Burlingame’s chief economic development specialist, and Kevin Gardiner, the community development director, analyzed the pros and cons of the large employer moving into Burlingame in written responses to the Burlingame B.
“[Facebook’s new office] can draw attention, provide more media coverage of our community, result in the creation of more jobs for residents and more revenue for the City to contribute toward community services and create more job opportunities,” Relihan said.
In general, Burlingame’s economy should rise since “large tech companies often invest in their communities as they expand. Having a large employer can attract more restaurants, eateries and other shops that can bring new energy and excitement to the community, improving the quality of life. With all this synergy and activity, Burlingame’s overall economic health can improve,” Relihan said.
Not only is Burlingame’s economy projected to rise, the move could also present internship and employment opportunities to Burlingame High School students.
“Bringing more tech companies to this part part of the bay is a great idea,” math and computer science teacher Christina Wade said. “The companies also need to make sure to integrate into our community, like extending invitations to students for internships and field trips. Teachers can teach, but currently there isn’t enough hands-on experiences for students in this [mid-peninsula] part of the Bay Area.”
However, some problems could arise due to the presence of a new Facebook office. With possibly more business, employees and job opportunities moving to Burlingame, prices and rent for residential and office real estate in Burlingame may rise due to increased demand and limited supply. Traffic in Burlingame already presents a challenge to commuters, and traffic in the Bayfront area and already congested Peninsula, Broadway and Anza Highway 101 exits may worsen.
To combat worsening conditions, Facebook “will be required to conform to an aggressive Transportation Demand Management program, which is intended to minimize additional traffic,” Gardiner said. “It will include dedicated shuttle buses, direct access to regional transit such as Caltrain and BART and provisions for bicycling.”
Burlingame citizens’ reactions to the the negotiations have been mixed.
“I assume [the new Facebook office] would be good because of more jobs and consumers, but increasing the already expensive rent would be bad. And traffic increase worries me,” senior Justin Zheng said. “I’d rather them not move here, but I can see why it would be beneficial for the Burlingame economy.”