Mountain View Voice

Opinion - June 15, 2012

Guest opinion: Google gets behind new General Plan

by David Radcliffe

Through the proposed General Plan update, the city has outlined a bold and transformative vision for guiding its future. As a major landowner in North Bayshore that has called Mountain View home for the last 12 years and where more than 2,000 of our employees live, Google strongly supports the draft General Plan. It reflects the shared community values that define Mountain View's unique character and is also essential to guiding its future success.

It is through the city's adoption of this plan that Google as well as countless other innovative companies in Mountain View can continue to grow here in a way that benefits the community — setting a new standard for sustainability in a city that has become a global hub of innovation.

Mixed-use "village centers"

The suburban office park model has played itself out. By clustering our growth into more dense "village centers," as called for in the plan, we can help reverse the current pattern of sprawl and avoid consuming space where other businesses could locate. This is not only essential to accommodating the growth of our business, but also helps

protect the diversity of commerce that we all value.

Furthermore, these "village centers" will allow for a more vibrant urban-style core in North Bayshore where residents, employers and businesses of all sizes can thrive. Imagine more walkable streetscapes, new residential and retail spaces, improved pedestrian and bike trails, better transit connections and more public amenities and open spaces.

We envision a diverse mix of small businesses along North Shoreline. And we believe that it's important to provide street-level spaces for these local businesses that make up our unique community fabric.

Parks & Open Spaces

One of the most promising elements of the plan, (which is not only good for Google but great for the community and environment) is the concept of transfer of development rights. That means transferring development away from sensitive ecological areas to more densely populated areas, so we can create public parks and open spaces for the community to come together — including multiple soccer/sports fields. Through our redevelopment, we expect to more than double the amount of public open space in North Bayshore.

We also want to foster a community that prioritizes pedestrians and bicycles over cars. We envision significant pathways that would allow uninterrupted travel via walking or biking through North Bayshore, with a continuous loop of connected green belts that link to improved trails along the creeks.

Regional Transit Solutions

It's clear that new investments in transportation infrastructure are needed to better serve our community — and we look forward to being an active collaborator in addressing this regional issue. We intend to partner with the city and regional governments to make significant improvements in connecting mass transit networks to North Bayshore. Creating a healthier jobs-housing balance also means less driving, and progressive mixed-use environments have long demonstrated that providing housing uses is one effective way to mitigate traffic.

We know that Mountain View is going to get bigger as it continues to develop into a major hub of innovation. We want to help ensure that it gets better, too. Google looks forward to working with the city and community to support the long-term social, environmental and economic health of Mountain View and our entire region.

David Radcliffe is vice president of real estate and workplace services for Google.

Comments

Posted by John Scott, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

I read this opinion piece with interest because it is so rare that a city has the opportunity to produce a general plan that has partners ready to immediately deliver on its promise. Too often city plans are speculative aspirations that go in search of commercially viable projects to bring to the community the benefits the plans seek.

In this instance expanding public open space, improving the environment, creating new village centers and mitigating the traffic pains of new growth align with the commercial interests of the existing North Bayshore property owners like Google who are ready to make it happen.

It is good to see a company like Google, well know for creatively solving complex challenges, on-board and given the tools in the general plan (like TDR's, residential space) to come up with truly innovative solutions within the North Bayshore Plan framework.

John


Posted by Martin Omander, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

From what I have seen of the General Plan, it is the logical continuation of the planning efforts started in Mountain View in the late 1970s. These were the efforts that gave us our vibrant yet intimate downtown, which makes our city a great place to live, and a destination for people from neighboring cities.

I'm one of the 2,000 Googlers who live and work in Mountain View, but my wife and I moved here before my current job. When we moved to the Bay Area in 1999, we picked Mountain View as the place to put down roots in, because we liked the downtown area, the outdoor cafes, the thriving small businesses, the public transport options, and how pedestrian and bike friendly everything was. Those things don't come around accidentally, they require determined work and a good plan, like this General Plan.


Posted by R.S. Feind, a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm

North Bayshore is not zoned as a residential area because allowing residential development would be destructive to the Bay ecology. It is not possible to mitigate what is destroyed if that area is developed. The elaborate language in Radcliffe's letter suggests that mixed-use development is sustainable in the neighborhoods that Google develops. As is being seen in the Shoreline neighborhood, this is not true, as Google employees stay on the corporate campus and do not patronize local restaurants. North Bayshore is a critical part of the Pacific Flyway, as well as home to threatened species like the salt-marsh harvest mouse and the Western Burrowing Owl. I encourage City Council to maintain their position that North Bayshore is not a residential area.


Posted by Cliff Chambers, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Kudos to the City of Mountain View for an excellent General Plan process. It provides a visionary framework for future development and change in our wonderful community.

Having led the Transit and Transportation Group and participated in Land Use Group of the MV Sustainability Task Force, it is great to see so many concepts that were recommended as part of that process included in the Draft General Plan.

One of those recommendations was allowing for the development of a series of village centers that encourage mixed use development and are easily accessible by alternative transportation modes. One of the Village Centers we had hoped for was in the North Bayshore area.

Google was an active participant in the Sustainability Task Force and supported mixed use development and innovative transportation strategies to address the thorny traffic problems that persist in North Bayshore. We are so fortunate to have a large corporation that wants to be part of the solution. Bravo to Google for supporting the Village Center concept, promoting sustainable land use development, and contributing to innovate transportation strategies to reduce vehicle traffic.

I urge the City Council to leave the door open to the possibility of housing in North Bayshore as part of the North Bayshore Precise Plan and North Bayshore Transportation Study (both are underway). Small unit rental housing would allow more Googlers and others in North Bayshore to live and work in our community. It's what the Village Center concept is all about. Let the professionals involved in both of these processes determine if the benefits of housing outweigh the costs.

Cliff


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