I am by background and professionally a marketing guy, so this is something I deal with daily.
Where is the thinking in City Hall about how to generate more revenue strategically? As best as I can tell, there needs to be more.
The company I own and run is based in Fremont, and we pay some stipends each year to the City of Fremont for the privilege of doing business there. Less than a hundred bucks a year. It has no bearing whatsoever on my choosing to operate in Fremont, there are other more important factors that went into my choosing to be there. Will companies in Palo Alto leave if such a tax is assessed?. I doubt it.
I view that matter as a distraction from a larger question around what Palo Alto is doing to generate revenue.
We should instead be putting our thinking into how to attract more revenue in town. For too long, Palo Alto has not taken into account the changing environment on the Peninsula, which has made our fair city a less attractive place to do business or shop. When, if ever, has there been an exercise or program by the City to assess how it generates revenue and what it needs to do going forward to be successful in doing so? Lots of projects, I see no strategy for revenue generation, be it the Stanford Shopping Center or elsewhere around town.
What I do see is reactive behavior around proposals that Stanford offers up, which mainly come across to this observer as running counter to a well thought out revenue strategy. Just the other day, Stanford announced they are suspending any contemplated expansion of the shopping center, which means one potential incremental source of revenue for Palo Alto is off the table.
What I do see is the local utility fees getting increased in order to maintain services that people who live here enjoy. I am of mixed opinions about this particular revenue stream, but it has become a default tactic for revenue generation since we lack a revenue strategy.
I also see hotel and automobile dealerships leaving town. I see absurdly long processes to get retail centers at Edgewood and Alma Plaza thriving again.
The City of Palo Alto is undertaking a 10 Year Plan for the second decade of the new century. I suggest that the first section of the plan address how the City will generate revenue in those ten years.
And if resources are needed to generate those revenues, let’s allocate them. My business allocates resources to sales and marketing because it generates revenue far beyond the costs of those resources. Let’s get people working in the City who are focused on the revenue line, not just the expenditure lines.