For cities, sales tax revenue is the main commercial real estate benefit, both from corporate sales and employee purchases made during the day. Google's billions in corporate service sales are not subject to sales tax, so Google billions in corporate sales do nothing for Mountain View.
Costco, San Antonio Center, Shoreline Amphitheatre and the other Mountain View businesses generate more sales tax revenue. Before 2003, SGI occupied the North Bayshore buildings. SGI's computer sales generated millions in revenue. Mountain View invested that revenue in $20 million for the light rail extension, a renovated downtown, Stevens Creek Trail and other community amenities. SGI employees patronized local businesses, generating more sales tax revenue and increasing employment opportunities for non-technical residents.
In 2003, Google moved in. Google's free food, onsite-everything (oil changes to chiropractic care), and bused-in employees is an excellent way to keep employees and their money sealed in the Googleplex bubble.
Since 2003, Google has had an IPO and made billions. Google is now on a real-estate buying spree, expanding the Googleplex bubble. Other North Bayshore businesses' leases have been terminated and moved out.
Google's success is more than Mountain View can afford. City staff has downsized and cut city services. This year, City Hall janitors had their salary cut. Mountain View's Capital Improvement Plan has over $19 million in unfunded projects. Mountain View can only afford to replace two 1960-era traffic signals a year. Good projects aren't even considered because there is no money.
This year, Google has graciously donated money for three flashing signals on Shoreline and a study to figure out how even more Google employees can get to the Googleplex bubble. Perhaps Google will even find a few more pennies to pay Google security guards a living wage.
Google is looking at a Palo Alto campus, which is a good idea. Sunnyvale and San Jose also have available property. Mountain View can no longer afford the lost sales tax revenue. We need businesses that generate direct economic benefit — not unbankable "prestige."
Google may try to "Do no evil," but Google is not doing Mountain View any good.