Time and again, our city fathers boast about the new “Silicon Beach.” They are practically ecstatic over the influx of start-up tech companies opening up shop in our beach community. At the same time they curry favors with our new elite. Our elected ‘deciders’ want that newcomer money to fund their upcoming elections. They are blind to the collateral and negative issues this tech rush generates. These new arrivals need politicians to grease the skids as they blast through city codes and it’s permitting processes. They expect plenty for their political donations. They burden our tiny and old infrastructure with their demands and do little if anything to support the needs of our community. Our ‘new economy’ nouveau riche spend millions on lobbyists to assure they get what they want. It’s time they spend some of those millions on their newly adopted town.
Have these newcomers done any real good for our little community? Has Snapchat, the voracious predator now taking control of a huge proportion of our limited commercial space while loudly proclaiming how they ‘love the Venice culture’ done anything at all for any of our local organizations and groups dedicated to working for the betterment of the many people here truly in desperate need? Little if any of their huge startup funding from Wall Street and Silicon Valley venture capitalists has found their way into Venice to support our desperate housing issues, homeless programs, healthcare programs, gang problems, schools, or disabled resident’s programs in any significant way.
This billion dollar start-up is sucking up our choice commercial properties with the determination of a Vegas high-roller. At the same time, their growing number of employees happily proclaim themselves Venetians and excitedly take the many gifts our unique community offers them.
Commercial building after commercial building has been snapped up by Snapchat. Many long-term commercial tenants were evicted. More prime properties will soon be added to Snapchat’s commercial building stable. Plans advertised for new shops and restaurants are happily scratched by landlords anxious for Snapchat dollars and long leases.
What will happen to Venice when this Silicon Beach star settles down and wants to consolidate its large work force under one roof, picks up stakes and moves on over to the Playa Vista business park? The lure of all that easy parking, cheaper leases and other amenities built there just to lure new economy companies is beckoning. Oh, they probably will retain some small presence here to keep their newly acquired edgie Venice status and that caché a Venice address offers. But one day soon they will leave, fed up with our frequent and growing gridlock traffic conditions and all those annoying things which tax even the most committed Venetian. They won’t be the only Silicon Beach star who migrates South for greener more spacious pastures. Think about it.
These Silicon Beach startups are really transients. Their leases are just five or ten years and all have sublet provisions. When they begin their exit, they will leave behind an army of real estate agents scrambling to find subtenants to take over their massive amount of commercial space and relieve them of the burden of all their leases. No one knows what effects the inevitable real estate dump will have on Venice real estate or on the entire Venice community. But, sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, these temporary Venice residents will pick up stakes and their presence here will be just a fading memory.
Hey, Snapchat! While you are here and enjoying all that Venice has to offer you, commit yourselves! Step out of your fabulous mode and jump into Venice’s deep well of need and start doing some real good for our little beach community.