With Google in the midst of a donation-spree that seems timed to counter it becoming a symbol for Bay Area gentrification and under-funded public transit, Mountain View View City Council members took action Tuesday night to make sure the city doesn't miss out on some more corporate funding.
To be fair, the council never mentioned Google as the specific reason for the policy change, which sets the stage for companies to buy naming rights to city parks and city buildings, and sponsor city events, such as outdoor concerts.
Council member Mike Kasperzak said he wanted to make sure the possibility existed. He raised the hypothetical scenario where a company bought the city enough land for a relatively large park — would council members really want to turn that down if it required naming the park after that company? After all, the council would still have to approve any name change.
"If we don't have the policy to permit that, no one is really going to try anything," Kasperzak said. "It's a lot easier to get people to think about it if it might be permitted."
Council members Jac Siegel and Ronit Bryant were the only council members to vote against the policy change, citing concerns over the naming rights issue. Member John McAlister said he liked the event sponsorship aspect. The rest of the council was silent.
"I don't want people to be able to buy the names of parks — it just doesn't seem right to me," Siegel said.
"I don't want to visit my neighborhood park and find it called AT&T park or ... not to mention the names of any Mountain View companies," Bryant said. "We are so surrounded by advertising all the time. Naming rights I absolutely cannot support. It's the Mountain View Community Center, not company XYZ Community Center."