Google wunderkind running for City Council

Youngest candidate in the field is 20 years old

At 20 years old Aaron Jabbari is as young as City Council candidates come. But according to Jabbari's resume, taking on a challenge is not unusual for him.

Throughout most of High School, Jabbari worked a full-time job in the evenings as a network engineer while he also took community college classes to get a jump start on college. While getting his bachelor's degree in political economy in a year and a half at the University of California at Berkeley, he co-founded a real estate investment firm with a friend, Marino Woodard Properties, LLC, and raised money for real estate investments for 10 months. That was on top of other extra curricular activities, like the "Be a Mentor" club he started and time spent with his new girlfriend.

It all might sound impossible, but his resume passed muster with Google, which hired him four months ago as an online advertising account mangier. He said he accomplished it all through regular exercise, a healthy diet and lots of support from his family as he grew up in Laguna Beach. A positive attitude appears to be working for him as well.

"I'm just a really happy person," he said. "Every day is the best day of my life."

But he has also learned some tough lessons as well.

In college he spent two months as a marketing intern for Altria, the parent company of cigarette-maker Phillip Morris, and presented the board of directors with some ideas which he said were used to increase profits.

Some of his work at Altria helped the company sell cigarettes, he said, but "I was able to justify it to myself because people are able to choose whether they want to smoke or not," and because the tobacco industry creates jobs for people. He said he feels worse about being a part of the real estate industry in 2008 and 2009 which helped lead to the recession.

Despite any regrets, Jabbari discovered a passion for urban planning while in the real estate business. And he says he has learned to place himself in environments where he can learn from people, hence his job at Google.

Four months ago Jabbari took a job at Google as an online advertising account manager selling Adsense ads and coming up with online advertising strategies.

In Jabbari's typical day at Google, he arrives at work at 7:30 a.m. and leaves at 8 p.m. But he says he ends up spending 8 hours a day actually working because he eats every meal at work, spends an hour a day in Google's gym and attends events there.

Despite the time spent at Google, he is looking to use his extra "bandwidth" to be more involved in the larger community.

"I really want to use every inch of my energy," he said.

Google "is a really fun and comfortable place to be. But I also think that fun and comfortable place can be Mountain View City Hall."

Urban planning is one of Jabbari's favorite subjects, and he can talk about the benefits of Mountain View's open space-inclusive development pattern over San Francisco's, where he nearly decided to live. Instead he rented a home from a friend in the new Regis Homes development at Sierra Vista and Colony streets, where he lives with his girlfriend.

As a member of the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Jabbari has attended several recent general plan meetings where the group's members have advocated for dense, centralized and transit-oriented development. But Jabbari stressed that the city's single-family neighborhoods should remain preserved and unchanged. He agrees with the focus of the city's general plan update that encourages redevelopment in only "key areas" of the city.

Jabbari said his top two campaign issues are responsible city budgeting and advocating for housing development that is affordable for the city's young tech workers, which would address the housing-jobs imbalance in Mountain View that some have been pointing to for years.

"Part of the way we could make up our budget deficit is through development, which will grow our economic tax base," Jabbari said. "Traditional housing development has sapped money" from the city because it is "expensive to get services to that sort of housing."

Jabbari said he supports building dense, non-subsidized housing in the city's "underutilized" industrial areas, including Google's North Bayshore neighborhood, where he would like to see enough housing to support a grocery store, among other services. That would "accommodate new, younger residents who need affordable housing," he said, "while allowing families the quality of life and neighborhood they desire."

As to the city budget, he said he doesn't believe that city workers, whose salaries are 80 percent of the city budget, are generally overpaid. But he does believe that there isn't enough return for the dollars spent on certain city services. A case in point: he believes that the city should not subsidize the Shoreline Golf Links, which is losing nearly $1 million a year. He says the land should be made profitable, the property sold or the operations outsourced to a private firm.

Editor's note: This story was inadvertently left out of the Aug. 13 print edition of the Voice. It will run in the Aug. 20 issue.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 2:31 pm

How long has Jabbari been a resident of Mountain View - a few months? Google normally likes employees to work long hours, so I don't see how city council would fit into his schedule. If he were even to get onto council he wouldn't be able to vote on any issues that dealt with Google. I'm sorry, he won't get my vote.

Posted by Bing, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Sorry, I don't want a 20 yr old kid making decisions for my city. What life experiences does this kid have? At 20 yrs old you just don't know enough to be doing this sort of job. Just another Googler who thinks they know it all.

Posted by John W, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Sorry folks. I'm 61 and strongly believe that the bright young "kids" are the ones to watch and listen to when it comes to getting us *all* out of our mess that THEY are ultimately inheriting at the national, state, and even local levels. A lack of bias/experience in "what can't be done" often allows them to actually get things done. Not to say that they don't need a few of us old folks around as mentors :) .

Posted by George, a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Three cheers for this young man. BUT Let him begin on some of the committees, Planning, etc. and learn the City. Youth is wonderful.. it is a time for learning and to prepare for a future. It is probably not the best time to be "in control."

Let's elect a centerist less liberal Council..

Posted by George, a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm

What in the world is this on line newspaper doing ? Talk about giving a campaign speech for a candidate.. egads.

While it is an interesting piece on a high achieving young man, it goes way beyond that. It is almost a ready made hit piece against any other candidate

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm

"Jabbari said his top two campaign issues... advocating for housing development that is affordable..."

"Jabbari said he supports building dense, non-subsidized housing..."

Such naivete. These two goals together. Does he expect Mtn View to build enough housing on its own to pull down costs on a regional basis? That is beyond silly.

How will a 20 year old new resident have any handle on the needs of Mtn View families? Four months? Run again when the ink on your lease is dry

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

To be honest, I'm inspired by the ambition of this young candidate. As proven by countless presidents and elected officials in the past, experience and age mean very little. Rather than basing assumptions on a number, why don't you engage in a discussion with him and learn more about his ideas for Mountain View?

I noticed he has a Facebook page: Web Link. Try expressing your concerns to him directly. The worst that could happen is that you confirm your assumptions, but perhaps you'll learn a thing or two about his platform and why he would make an effective city council member.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Castro City
on Aug 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm

George - Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the council become a majority libertarian council if the other candidates in the running win? I'd say Jabbari would actually balance it out a bit and provide a fresh perspective...

I'm not saying I'm 100% for Jabbari, but I'm not going to bash him because of one article. I'd hope people would actually do research about the candidates they're voting on before passing superficial judgments. Voting for him (or any other candidate) doesn't mean you're "giving them control" (Kate) since there are still other members in the council. You are, however, bringing in different perspectives and ideas. Who better to plan for our future than someone who will actually get to experience it?

Posted by Koa, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:26 am


Posted by Another Perspective, a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

A new Googler who has made Mountain View his new home and wasted no time to get involved and contribute. I wish we had that level of energy in all our communities.

We should judge him for who he is and not his age. I hope we get more young people like him while the rest of us make reservations for the "early-bird" dinner!

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Apparently no one that commented remembered how naive they were when they were 20.

Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 13, 2010 at 11:45 pm

"Jabbari said his top two campaign issues... advocating for housing development that is affordable..."

"Jabbari said he supports building dense, non-subsidized housing..."

These two goals make a lot of sense. It's the AH crowd that cowardly hides behind this term without admitting they what they really want. Governemnt price controlled housing offering huge subsidies a few lucky individuals.

Posted by John, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

A 20-year old Google employee who has lived in Mtn. View a whole 4 months running for council. I could very well be wrong, but I'd say there's a good-sized ego involved.

Posted by Alex, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

Ha!.... ah NO.

Posted by MVCSP member, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

The Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning also believes that the City's single family home neighborhoods should be preserved and that new, possibly more dense development should go in the nine focus areas identified in the General Plan. We're definitely NOT advocating that MV's existing, healthy, single family home neighborhoods should be converted to high density housing! Yikes!!

Posted by ShorelineParkUser, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

The article states: "he believes that the city should not subsidize the Shoreline Golf Links, which is losing nearly $1 million a year. He says the land should be made profitable, the property sold or the operations outsourced to a private firm."

Sell a huge part of Shoreline Park?!? The golf course should pay for itself or at least greatly reduce this operating gap, but to suggest the property should be SOLD is absurd and suggests a lack of understanding of the importance of this regional park.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm

MVCSP direction of advocating high density in some areas has repeatedly worked throughout the world. Even as far away as exotic So. CA! The house my grandfather build in 1924 and both my father and I grew up in, in Glendale, is still surrounded by the smaller single family units like it has been since the 1930s. But the central areas near the freeways have grown into regional banking and shopping centers. Few 2 bed, one bath houses there anymore - but how many farms and working greenhouses do we now have in MV? Who built all the 3 bed 2 baths and spoiled the place? Who moved there and spoiled the place? (us)

(or blame Stanford - he started the SP which built the rail line)
20 year old candidates - blame Nixon and his 18 yrs old vote Constitutional amendment.

Posted by jupiterk, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm

He will make a 6 figure income, get generous nice pension plans and retire in 8 years and start living off a 6 figure pension. Wow, a system run by the crooks , for the crooks. as long as the voters are stupid and ignorant, few will sure take advantage and ride the gravy train. go on folks, drink some more of that koolaid.

Posted by Michelle, a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

I have not made my mind up yet, but what bothers me more than anything is people who are judging him based on his age. This does not appear to be your average 20 year old (now 21). There are not a lot of 19 year olds with a bachelor's degree. He seems to be more motivated than any 40 year old that I have met. I will base my decisions on the issues, not on age.

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