Google expansion brings mixed feelings

Company to move into its first brand-new MV building

While Google has been in Mountain View for years, the company has yet to occupy an entirely new building in the city. That will change soon.

Google has signed a lease with the Sobrato Organization for a 156,317-square-foot building to be constructed at 1255 Pear Avenue, one of three moves the company made to expand in Mountain View over the summer.

The company also signed a lease for the 500,000-square-foot building that once housed the Mayfield Mall -- now undergoing a massive renovation -- and bought a 2.3-acre property at 1161 San Antonio Road with a pair of R&D buildings measuring 23,610 square feet and 10,380 square feet.

All told, Google will soon have space for 2,500 more employees at the Mayfield site, 785 on Pear Avenue and 170 more on San Antonio Road. City officials estimate that Google already has over 20,000 employees in Mountain View, which is growing as the company renovates a number of existing buildings around its headquarters at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway. Only about 2,000 Google employees live in Mountain View, now a city of over 75,000 people, city officials say. The company currently owns or leases well over 60 buildings in Mountain View.

"Mountain View certainly isn't the town it was 20 or 30 years ago, but neither is Silicon Valley," said council member Mike Kasperzak. The impacts of Google's growth have become obvious, he said: Shoreline Boulevard is more gridlocked than ever, there's been an unprecedented spike in rents and restaurants are struggling as a bigger percentage of workers eat free gourmet lunches on campus. Home owners, however, (including every City Council member) "are getting wealthier on paper" as their property values rise.

"I have concerns about the cost of housing in Mountain View," Kasperzak said. "Anybody that owns their property is probably thrilled with what's going on, but the price of entry is going up rapidly. I haven't seen an apartment or rent spike like this in a long time. That causes a lot of concern to everybody on the council."

According to data service Real Facts, average rents for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Mountain View went up from $1,897 in 2009 to $2,520 in 2012, and rents are continuing to rise dramatically this year.

New North Bayshore office

The five-story office building planned for Google at 1255 Pear Ave. was approved by the city's zoning administrator in July, and will be the first entirely new building in North Bayshore to be built during Google's tenure time.

New development north of Highway 101 is largely at a standstill for the next two years until the City Council develops a precise plan to guide development in the area, but the 1255 Pear Ave. project was able to go forward because it does not take advantage of the city's new general plan, which allows for three times more square footage on the property. Over 75 percent of the 10.25-acre lot will be covered with open space, a courtyard and over 500 parking spaces. The site is bordered by the Sahara Village Mobile Home Park, Pear Avenue, Inigo Way and La Avenida. To be demolished soon are nine buildings totaling 141,878 square feet, including the site of a Crossfit gym and a few small tech companies.

Google had previously proposed 1.1 million square feet of new office space at NASA Ames, as well as a large new building at Shoreline Boulevard and Charleston Road, but both projects are now on hold as the City Council gets ready to deliberate on specific plans for the area.

"One of the reasons for Google's acquisitions strategy is the uncertainty of their ability to build," Kasperzak said of the wait for precise plans to guide development in North Bayshore and the Whisman area. "If they can't build, they've got to buy."

As a result, Google has been buying and leasing property just outside of Mountain View, including a recent lease for 14.75 acres with 200,000 square feet of space on East Meadow Circle in Palo Alto. Google is reportedly committed to occupying enough space for 10,000 to 15,000 new employees in the area.

Kasperzak says many people are happy to have Google in Mountain View. Some read news about the company expanding in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, and say, "Oh my God, Google is moving! There is this feeling, 'I don't want them to leave, but do they have to grow so fast?' I get the sense sometimes that people are conflicted," Kasperzak said.


Posted by Member, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm

How much will the City of Mtn. View allow Google to squeeze into a one-way-in, one-way-out commercial business area?

500 parking spaces for the Pear Ave building?!?!

I can't imagine 500 more cars traveling up and down Pear Avenue on a daily basis (which by the way is a dead end street)!

During concert season ALL of Pear Avenue is full on both sides with concert goers who take advantage of the free parking and walk to Shoreline. The sheer number of these cars alone (and pedestrians) makes this area unsafe, but those of us that live in the mobile home park expect, and respect it and drive safely.

Now, let's add upwards of 500 cars that are not used to the heavy precence of these parked cars and pedestrians, who according to the standard Shoreline concert schedule, will all be all arriving at the same time most Googlers will be getting off work.

I'm also not thrilled that there will be a five story office building looking down into our mobile home park community, but hey, wha'ch ya gonna do?

I will be so happy when my kid graduates and I can get the heck out of this town!!!

Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

The risk of having all of your eggs in one basket is very high. Does anyone remember how large and invulnerable Fairchild Semiconductor and Silicon Graphics were? Mountain View needs to encourage other businesses to locate here.

Posted by Chris, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

So much for "Don't be evil", this is going to be a mess for us living here, a mess on 101 and 237, and a mess for the city if anything happens to the company (bankruptcy, dissolution...). Ugh.

Posted by beelia, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I concur with my neighbor in Santiago Villa who expressed alarm at the traffic this huge building will bring to our already-congested area. Just in the last few months, traffic has become unbearable - last week my commute was six times longer than it usually is because of Google and Shoreline Amphitheatre. If it gets any worse, we won't be able to get in or out of our little park (which also houses many Google and Microsoft employees).

Google seems to think because it is providing extensive bus service for its employees that it is handling the problem. But the number of cars isn't the only problem - the infrastructure just cannot handle any more traffic of any kind. Why are they building more north of 101 when eventually nobody, including their employees, is going to be able to get to work or leave the premises?

This is truly frightening. I work in high tech too, but getting to and from my Sunnyvale employer is getting harder by the minute. By next year, I'm going to need a helicopter to get home.

Posted by OMV Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm

I am thrilled that Google has continued to maintain Mountain View as its home and continues to focus a good portion of its employee growth here.

99 out of 100 cities in this country would be thrilled to have a company like Google headquartered and expanding in their city. If you prefer not to have a thriving, 21st century, knowledge economy company in your city, feel free to move to any of those other thousands of cities. I hear you can get a nice big house in Detroit (or Cleveland, or Buffalo, or Pittsburgh...) for a song.

Interesting too how people's comments are influenced by the article title. If you titled this 'Google to create hundreds more jobs in Mountain View' you would get a very different set of reactions.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Slater
on Oct 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Google is reportedly committed to occupying enough space for 10,000 to 15,000 new employees in the area.

My new retirement plan; rent out my home here in MV and live the good, not so regulated and crowded life somewhere OUT OF CALIFORNIA. !!EUREKA!!

Posted by Sarah, a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Don't mess with my movie theater, Google. Readers, if you don't want the Century 16 torn down, the write the City Council.

Posted by SAM, a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Google the company that licenses its intellectual property overseas so any profits made outside of the U.S. never get taxed in this country. Mtn View is losing millions but that's OK we get high rent costs and traffic problems.

Posted by Tony, a resident of Castro City
on Oct 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Let those 99 other cities have Google and let's get someone who
-employs people from the community (or the country at least )
- pays taxes
- pays full price for its rental of space
- stops demanding the city end to its will

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm

We have loads of companies that licenses and do the oversea tax shelter game, you won't believe how many other companies will be creative to pay very little in taxes. I won't say those companies that sell products, places where you shop at. The tax law is written by a bunch of tax lawyers that most likely are paid by the companies that benefit from the law.

Google has leased, purchased building but yes that is true that haven't really ever built their own building. Googleplex was build by Silicon Graphics and the other buildings that occupy were Sun, Silicon Graphics, Adobe and Alza.

Hope to see a really nice modern people friendly well laid out Googleplex with lawns, trees and housing.

Posted by MountainViewer, a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm

We are fortunate to have Google in our midst. Like everything else in life, there are trade-offs. But Google's presence is overwhelmingly a positive for Mountain View and we should do everything in our power to keep it that way.

Posted by Angela Hey, Mountain View Voice Blogger
on Oct 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Angela Hey is a registered user.

@konrad big companies have tended to move from Mountain View in the past - Sun moved to East Menlo where Facebook is now, Adobe moved to downtown San Jose, and over-expansion is a concern so your comments have validity. However, there are other large companies in Mountain View - Symantec ($6.9B 2013 revenues, HQ in Mountain View, albeit some offices are in Sunnyvale), Intuit ($4.2B), Synopsys ($1.76B), LinkedIn (partly in former Silicon Graphics offices 2012 revenues $972M and $689M for the 1st half of financial year 2013). Mountain View has numerous small companies (e.g. at 480 and 650 Castro), some of which may grow, as well as accelerators like Y Combinator and 500 Startups, not to mention venues for fostering new companies - Hacker Dojo, Fenwick and West's conference center.

Posted by SAM, a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Head over to Shoreline after work and see the mass exit of the local dollars in buses and cars onto 101. Someone not expanding the roads or resources. As everyone knows food is free at Google so possible workers might head out for a drink. Did the Intern movie ID Mtn View or didthey say SF area?

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm

How many of you work out side of Mountain View? Do you commute to work and spend money in that community. If you work in those nearby communities which you are driving in and out, causing traffic. Do you speed?

I don't see anything wrong with spending money outside of Mountain View because just maybe you can't find it or not the kind of service you need. People come to Mountain View to shop and eat but people do find services that they desire.

Mountain View years ago had pretty good shopping, we even had a few car dealers

Posted by Details, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:50 am

@Angela Hey:

Of the companies you listed,
"...Symantec ($6.9B 2013 revenues, HQ in Mountain View, albeit some offices are in Sunnyvale), Intuit ($4.2B), Synopsys ($1.76B), LinkedIn (partly in former Silicon Graphics offices 2012 revenues $972M and $689M for the 1st half of financial year 2013)."

what percent of their core r&d is inside of Mountain View? Except for Intuit, I would think it quite small. Also, companies are being squeezed out by Google, which is why LinkedIn is moving to Sunnyvale.

Regarding your comment on the small startups. I suppose there are some, but if they get to be of any size, they have to leave Mountain View, because there just isn't any significantly sized office space available. (Remember Evernote?) Mountain View City Planners seem to want to build up more high density housing and try to stuff in as many people into the city limits as possible or give Google a monopoly on office space, so this problem is only going to get worse.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2013 at 10:11 am

Google which in time might want to pull back or give up office space that is far from Googleplex. Google could also have a slow down in growth which might allow them to design and use office buildings better. Google should build up main campus, design building to house most of their workers, services and have like a town center with housing.

Yes the city is dealing housing but it is dealing with Google, planned office buildings, Phase 2, MEW, the planned housing along ECR and many other little projects. It takes time, meetings, studies and resident input.

Posted by Vinnie, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm

A very creative solution to a number of problems.
Mountian View should sell Shoreline Ampitheatre to Google! They could build to their hearts content. If they need more room just throw in Moffet Field and Shoreline Park and Lake.
The city council could pocket the many millions they covet and Google can rename that area Googleville or Googletoon or whatever they want. The noise issue is resolved.
Property values skyrocket even more and homeowners can sell and move to Atherton or Hillsborough, Los Altos Hills, or Carmel.
Everyone is happy.

Posted by Veggie, a resident of Bailey Park
on Oct 9, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Google Hiring more International Workers from India.?, More Indian Residents and Drivers in Mountain View, Great!!! this town is looking a lot like Little India of Santa Clara City with lots of good vegetarian restaurants.

Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

Google also has many employees at The Quad complex, bordered by Fairchild, Whisman and Ellis. At least that area has slightly better access than North Shoreline Blvd.

I would like to see something done with the lot next to Charelston Park, which is a former parking lot for Shoreline Amphitheatre. If it's not going to be developed, maybe it could be used to alleviate the parking problems in the area, although I realize it wouldn't help the already bad traffic situation.

Posted by Angela Hey, Mountain View Voice Blogger
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Angela Hey is a registered user.

@Details - I do indeed remember interviewing Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote for the Voice when it was a tiny company. It is too bad they moved to Redwood City as they liked Mountain View for its downtown and transportation hub.

@NW Resident - Google does indeed have a massive campus at The Quad - having ended up in the Google car park on a bike ride from Shoreline.

I like mixed-use neighborhoods and one option to attract bigger companies would be to build higher on the east side of Shoreline and zone for some housing there. If you look around North First Stret you will see infill of condos with businesses. This would reduce commute traffic. Silicon Valley as a whole has not built high, except for near light rail. Taller buildings in concentrated areas would mean more space for parks, orchards (like the new Apple site) and recreation sites.

Posted by Ada, a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

I do not understand why Mountain View government is not trying to balance number of new work places with number of new residential places. Why would city-wide plan allow for thousands new work places without adding thousands new apartments and houses?

Posted by Vinnie, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

All this growth means more police, fire, medical facilities and schools. Other than the Shoreline fire station I do not see any of this keeping pace.
Who gets to pay for all the infrasructure?

Posted by SAM, a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 13, 2013 at 4:51 am

So since Google brings in money for the city, we allow larger buildings and more expansion (and not just Google add Moffet Towers, Facebook in the area) Traffic was bad before so we fix it with more bike lanes not highways and interchange, which is good for 2 miles commutes but nothing for the 10-40 so the highways and streets become road jams and it all good for the city because we should drive electric cars.

Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

Mountain View has yet to address the numerous impacts of "The Village" at San Antonio Center in any meaningful manner. For example, any children living in this "village" are served entirely by Los Altos school Mountain View continues to green light hundreds of residential units that will rent for several thousand dollars a month (developer gets rich!) and Los Altos will be forced to deal with a potential staggering student enrollment increase. What a sweet deal for the city and the developers.

Also, I happened to peruse the traffic study for San Antonio Road and El Camino Real and the study cited an "average wait time between something like 35-55 seconds, and with more development that light cycle time is expected to "average" something like 55-85 seconds = "no impact". Aaahahahaha. The beauty of the traffic study is that it studies the traffic at the intersection over a 24 hours, which is USELESS for all practical purposes. How about a "peak travel time" traffic study...a traffic study that would actually reflect the impact to this intersection when it is actually most heavily traveled?

I will dig around and see if I can find the link to this traffic study, it's jaw dropping in blatant bias = desire to support even more traffic traveling thru the San Antonio/El Camino intersection, while publicly pointing to the study and saying, "see, no impact"!

What a sham, and what a racket

Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I'm not so worried about the way Los Altos School District is affected by growth in the San Antonio area as I am worried about the growth itself. Los Altos School District covers not all of Los Altos and reaches into several other cities and always has. It covers around 20% of Mountain View, including some of the highest value residences.

But in the San Antonio area we have a small area of 1/4 square mile and it has a lot of residents already. The traffic concerns are real, but the pedestrian problems are even worse. There is as much a need for wide sidewalks along San Antonio as there is along El Camino Real. With high rise apartments on San Antonio, the pedestrian traffic should be encouraged. Instead the sidewalks are so narrow that the driveways are not safe to walk across. Great! And then there is the idea of bike traffic along San Antonio. That also makes more sense than along El Camino, but it is impeded by the crazy fast development, the narrow sidewalks, and the lack of planning.

Posted by Mark, a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

The problem with the San Antonio schools is not just happening in that area. The issue is that increasingly the city is encouraging the replacement of retail activity with dense residential development. The San Antonio area led the way for this back in the 90's when the Old Mill Shopping Center was redeveloped into various dense housing tracts--condos and townhouses of various types but at the time, lots per acre. With the changes in the economy since then these homes are more attractive to families with school-age children.

Now, all along El Camino the city is approving high rise residences. There will be a lot of extra school kids in those apartments. These locations are not near any elementary schools, and the closest schools are all very crowded. This is going to affect the other local elementary school district more than the one which serves most of Los Altos. All these kids will need a way to school and the routes are not good for walking. There's no public transit to those schools so its going to mean more car trips and crowded schools.

Posted by Old Timer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm

The smartest solution to Google expanding is allowing HOUSING in North Bayshore -- right next to Google. The area is already developed and occupied. And having Google employees walk to work is the greenest solution. But this will never happen. Why? Because the Audubon Society has gotten the City Council to cave into their demands to protect that area and thus the Council has voted to not have any housing in that area -- ever. Which forces all those Google employees onto the rest of the City, clogging our roads.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Evernote left Mountain View due to the lack of space to expand from a start up to a successful company, a leader in which they sell, provide and need space to handle that success. A start up can open in a 60's ear warehouse and auto centered complex of buildings that after awhile just didn't suit the growing company. Over the years a lot of companies left Mountain View for other places offered suitable sites in growth. Other growing companies passed Mountain View by for one reason or another.

Right now Google is growing outward by leasing and buying up building but one day soon they will decide on a inward movement to the main campus. The city of Mountain View must be prepared and ready to handle the needs of Google.

Mountain View must not lose sight of people wanting to start up a company or when they get successful and need space to expand. We must also attract other kind of companies.

Posted by Chick-fil-haay!!!, a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 16, 2013 at 9:32 am

I heard that they (Google) are also taking over the old Mayfield Mall, which is currently under construction.

As some mentioned. Mountain View's infrastructure is not up to par with the influx of new un-affordable housing being built, along with the number of cars that are causing traffic nightmares on all major road arteries (El Camino, Shoreline, Rengstorff, San Antonio).

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

Extend Light Rail to San Antonio Station so the line can go from city limit to limit and beyond. Shuttles. The Google shuttle, San Antonio Shuttle and
Castro St Shuttle. Just some ideas. How about colored bike trails. Red for Google, Blue for Downtown to San Antonio and Purple, well you get the point.

Enough talking about traffic which it is bad, it will only get worse. Time to do, solve, build, extend, maintain and sell tickets.

Posted by Tina, a resident of Castro City
on Oct 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm

There's lots of housing at the army base... Why can't Google adopt that? The base could do with a nice clean-up & prettification, and the govt could probably put the money to good use. And there's lots of space and that would ease the bottleneck traffic at Shoreline. I adore Google (as much as one can adore a corporation) and am proud that they have chosen our town as their homebase, but really, how many of the "hundreds" of jobs that are being created are being given to MV residents? Have you seen their job applications? I think you have to have graduated from a "top-flight" college must to be a janitor there... That means all their hundreds of new employees are moving to MV or nearby and we have to make room for them. Which is fine, but... See comments above re: traffic, bikes, pedestrians, etc. It would be really nice if our seemingly inert city council would get its act together and have a sit down with Google and make some real plans that could get implemented asap. The current situation seems to be spiralling out of control at a dizzying rate.

Posted by beelia, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Yesterday residents received mail from Sobrato notifying us that construction is about to start on this monster building.

But no worries - construction work is only going be happening between 7 AM AND 6 PM MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.

And it's only going to take FIFTEEN MONTHS.

Yeah, we can easily plan our lives around that minor inconvenience. No problem.

Posted by Maria, a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Google is trying to monopolize an entire city! People that were born and raised in MV are being forced to move due to all the rent increases! It's just not right!!!

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