|Looking for small cities that could inspire French "ecotowns" of the future, senior French official Jacques Attali has picked Mountain View as one of the best role models in the world.
City officials and local environmentalists were shocked when French reporter Francois Clemenceau came to Mountain View in October with some strange news. Clemenceau gave out a report from Attali saying that France is planning five "ecopolis" or "ecotowns," including one built completely from scratch. In the report, Attali names Mountain View, along with New Songdo City, South Korea and Hammerdy Sjostat, Switzerland, as places where particular traits of such "ecotowns" already exist.
France's vision is for high tech, eco-friendly villages of less than 50,000 people where there will be social diversity, good public transit, adequate open space and a friendly business climate, Attali says.
After pro-American French president Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in May, he appointed Attali, a prolific writer and famous intellectual, to head the "Committee to Liberate Growth in France," hoping to remove obstacles to business.
When the Voice asked Clemenceau why he thought Mountain View was chosen by Attali as a model for business development and "going green," Clemenceau said, "Why not?"
One Palo Alto environmentalist had a very different reaction, something along the lines of, "Why Mountain View?" She went on to criticize the Mountain View City Council for cutting high density, smart growth development at Mayfield.
In a call to Attali's office in France, a secretary there said the mention of Mountain View in his report had a lot to do with Google's free WiFi -- a model for the communication technology Attali wants to see in these new cities. Attali did not respond with more details by press time.
Clemenceau, a respected reporter for Europe One, believes he made a good case for Mountain View during his visit. He interviewed local environmentalists, Mountain View city officials Nadine Levin and Ellis Berns, Google's VP of business operations Shona Brown, and he learned about Google's program to develop plug-in hybrid cars. The resulting radio broadcast will air this month in France.
Clemenceau was the second European reporter to talk to city officials in October. A few weeks earlier, Dan Glaister of the Guardian UK talked to city manager Kevin Duggan about the city's relationship with Google.
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