- Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
Apple is building a new $5 billion campus in Cupertino, California, and is the largest employer in the city. So you’d expect Cupertino’s mayor, Barry Chang, to have a close relationship with the company.
But the two are barely on speaking terms, according to a report by Nellie Bowles in The Guardian.
In fact, when Chang last decided to pay an impromptu visit to Apple’s campus, while he was a city-council member, before he was mayor, security escorted him off campus. “They said, ‘You cannot come in – you’re not invited,'” Chang told The Guardian.
The city council these days usually votes with Apple, because, as Chang said, “Apple talks to them, and they won’t vote against Apple.” Chang links Apple’s reluctance to work with him to taxes: He wants Apple to pay more, supporting a bill to levy $100 million from Apple to improve infrastructure that was voted down.
According to the most recent statistics cited by Bowles, Apple paid $9.2 million in taxes to Cupertino from 2012 to 2013. In the 2012 fiscal year, Apple made $156.5 billion in sales. Cupertino gives Apple an annual tax break on business-to-business sales that started in 1997, when Apple was on the verge of collapse.
“In the meantime Apple is not willing to pay a dime. They’re making profit, and they should share the responsibility for our city, but they won’t. They abuse us,” Chang told The Guardian.
But Chang’s decision to speak out is the latest sign that residents in Silicon Valley, where Apple is rapidly expanding – its parking lots are overflowing, according to The New York Times – may want the tech giant to be a better neighbor.
Apple has not commented on Mayor Chang’s comments.
‘We pay taxes’
- City of Cupertino
There’s no doubt that Apple’s considerable employee footprint puts stresses on Santa Clara County infrastructure.
Traffic around Apple’s giant “spaceship” construction project can get hairy at times, and Cupertino has a continually updated webpage with details about road closings and traffic for that project, specifically.
Apple’s burgeoning and secretive car project has neighbors complaining about loud noises in neighboring Sunnyvale.
Apple’s penchant for secrecy can also be at odds with government policies that emphasize transparency. California assemblyman Evan Low, who represents Cupertino and surrounding cities, organized a technology caucus trip to Apple last month to discuss “key issues.” A Low representative told me that Apple PR had told her that she could not name the Apple employees whom elected officials met with.
Apple’s $5 billion campus is expected to be completed later this year, with Apple employees moving in next year.
When Steve Jobs, then Apple’s CEO, revealed the project in 2011, a city-council member pressed Jobs on what benefits Apple’s construction project could provide the community, like the free public Wi-Fi network Google has implemented near some of its campuses.
Jobs threatened to move the project to neighboring Mountain View.
“I’m a simpleton. I’ve always had this view that we pay taxes, and the city should do those things,” Jobs said. “I think we bring a lot more [to Cupertino] than free Wi-Fi.”