Oakland looks to poach San Francisco businesses

April 11, 2011 7:43:55 PM PDT
San Francisco has something Oakland wants -- big name companies. Oakland's mayor is crossing the bridge to try to convince those businesses to relocate.

It is a tale of two cities. A battle of the bay between San Francisco and Oakland that all comes down to one thing -- location, location, location.

"It has this sort of cool culture, uptown, with the art murmur and all the great restaurants and the great diversity of this city," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, referring to her city, not San Francisco.

During a secret sales pitch last week, those are just some of the selling points she made to San Fransico big name tech companies like Open Table and Yelp. She wants to lure them to her turf, and she is not the least bit ashamed about it.

"We have better weather, we're closer to downtown San Francisco than even most of San Francisco," said Quan.

Quan says gaming companies like Zynga could save $35 million over five years by moving to Oakland.

Did she mention the weather yet?

"Plus, when you add the fact that we are cooler and have better weather? cooler in the sense of the culture," said Quan.

On the other side of the bay, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is hardly worried.

"Poaching, wow, that's a strong word," said the mayor laughingly.

San Francisco is doing its best to make sure the companies it has don't leave. It just passed a tax break to keep Twitter in town.

"I don't mind because it goes both ways," said Lee. "If there's something that interests us in Oakland, we might do the same."

There is one other thing that Oakland has that San Francisco doesn't -- cheaper rent. Commercial real estate rents for about $10 less per square foot in Oakland.

But one of San Francisco's biggest selling points may be Oakland's notorious crime problem.

"I think if somebody has made a decision to move to Oakland, they're sophisticated enough to know there's parts of Oakland that are great, just like any big city there's parts that are great to be in," said Anne Bruff with the Oakland Association of Realtors.

In this tale of two cities it turns out there may actually be a third. Asked whether she also has her eyes on poaching Silicon Valley businesses, Quan said, "No comment."

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