And we have to assume that back in 1990, the year he took the helm as city manager, he had no idea that this makeshift property would one day house a company named Google, now a $750 billion worldwide corporation that pays the city $5.3 million a year for its leaseholds in the North Bayshore area, and millions more in property taxes.
Attracting and keeping Google has to be one of Duggan's proudest accomplishments in his tenure as city manager and exemplifies his philosophy of issuing long-term leases on city property to high-tech companies. It is a strategy that has produced stellar financial results for the city, which now has substantial income from one of the nation's premier high-tech companies.
Back in the 1990s (Google came in the 2000s), these corporate giants could have gone anywhere in Silicon Valley, but somehow, they landed in Mountain View, the former fruit-growing hamlet that stretches between Palo Alto and Sunnyvale and Cupertino.
Just as important to the city's future well-being was Duggan's whole-hearted support and vision to invigorate the Shoreline redevelopment district established in 1969 that has created the financial underpinnings of the regional park we have today, including a golf course and clubhouse, the Michael's at Shoreline restaurant, a manmade lake and a system of walking/hiking and biking trails that ultimately connects north and east to Palo Alto and south and west to the city's downtown. Just last week a ground-breaking ceremony was held signaling the start of an $8 million overpass and tunnel project that will remove the final barrier standing between Shoreline and the western half of the city for pedestrians and bikers.
Certainly Duggan would never want to take all the credit for this web of income-producing property that sits atop the old landfill and pig farm. But it was his careful guidance that slowly developed the city's North Bayshore region into the economic engine that it is today.
Beyond his business acumen — he has been highly focused on avoiding deficit spending and building healthy reserves throughout his career — there are other key traits that set him apart from many others in his sometimes volatile trade.
For example, Mountain View is known as a city that is fair to its workers, even though some favorite union perks started to disappear recently when it became clear that the city could not sustain such a high level of retirement benefits without employees sharing some of the burden. Duggan achieved this in the process of collective bargaining without becoming a pariah to the city's unions.
And council members admire Duggan's ability to steer a neutral course through the thicket of city politics, preferring to stay out of the limelight and leave the political issues to the council. He also scores valuable points with the media by always being available and taking plenty of time to explain complex issues. His demeanor is always calm, even when he is defending an unpopular position.
Unquestionably, Kevin Duggan will be a difficult act to follow for his successor. The good news is that much of the groundwork has been done. There is a plan to keep the budget in check and to continue to build on the successes at Shoreline. Mountain View will go on without Mr. Duggan, but it will take years to forget his impact on making the city what it is today.