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February 8, 2023

Facebook’s departures have been slow, but its last gasp will come in May 2021, when Ms. Bowen, who has led the project since 2017, leaves the company. In a farewell email to Mr. Slocum and others that day, she wrote that she believed Facebook “didn’t know much about the sprawling mission it originally envisioned” and was obtained by The Times through a public records request. of.

The email outlines the story and ends on a somber but optimistic note. “We removed a 25-year-old rusting needle, reinvigorated the neighborhood and awakened the area to possibility,” she wrote. “Granted, we are still mired in the reality that it takes, on average, more than 20 years to build a significant bridge in the United States. We need to change that. We will.

A year and a half later, however, it seems unlikely that Facebook will be part of that change. In almost every way, including its name, Facebook, now Meta, is a very different company than it was in 2015. Facebook is expanding, Meta is shrinking, fall off product, disbanding the entire team and Nearly $3 billion spent Shrink its office footprint. With this change, Meta is delivering on some of its commitments to the local community, including plans for a new 59-acre mixed-use development in Menlo Park called Willow Village. But it’s clear that, as the company cuts jobs and leases, it’s less focused on building infrastructure in the real world and more on attracting users into its virtual world.

Yet while Meta’s priorities may have shifted, the needs in its backyard haven’t waned. On March 13, 2020, just before the world came to a standstill, some 30,400 vehicles crossed the Dumbarton Road Bridge, which sits alongside the destroyed railway bridge, according to the Transport Commission. On September 30, 2022, approximately 30,500.

The commute remains brutal for employees who can’t work remotely, including Meta’s janitor, Angelina Sanchez, who told The New York Times through a translator in October that she made the roughly 90-mile round trip to and from Modesto at 5 a.m. Ms. Sanchez, a mother of three who didn’t return until 10:30 p.m., said she used to live in nearby East Palo Alto but was moving farther and farther in search of places she could afford housing.

The Dumbarton Rail project alone will not solve these problems. But it might help. The question is: whose job is it to take on this work?

Is it a public sector with a mandate but lacks resources, or a technology company that exacerbates the problem but is ultimately accountable to investors?



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