Mountain View Voice

News - December 16, 2011

City to hire staff to handle Google's growth

by Daniel DeBolt

Illustrating just how much Google plans to grow in future years, the City Council voted Tuesday night to take $255,000 up front from Google and use it to hire new city staff to handle that growth.

Council members voted 6-1 without much discussion, but some said they had numerous questions about the unusual agreement, in which Google pays in advance for the planning department's services.

"I read it first thinking, no offense to Google, but you're buying our town, putting people in our city hall," said Mayor Jac Siegel, the only member who voted against it. "What happens when next week Synopsis comes in and says, 'I want to give you money?'"

The city can now hire a full-time contract city planner and a half-time public works engineer so there is enough city staff to handle the planning of Google projects next year, including a new 18-acre campus on the vacant lot at Shoreline Boulevard and Charleston Road and improvements to dozens of existing Google buildings.

"You pick any office building out there and they are probably doing improvements," said Planning Director Randy Tsuda on Monday.

"Reimbursement agreements are common in Mountain View," Tsuda said. "The difference with this agreement is Google will pay the money in advance."

He explained on Monday that it "allows us to get a staff person on board. That way we are ready to go when the projects come in the door."

The new staff may be an outside contract planner or engineer and there's no guarantee he or she would work on a Google project, Tsuda said.

Council member Laura Macias requested that such items related to Google, "a major corporation we love and sometimes we don't love so much," not be placed on the consent calendar, which is for items that are non-controversial and are usually approved all together with no discussion.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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