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on Feb 26, 2014
Perhaps we are focusing on the wrong metric?
Why do we care about square footage? Why do we care about the number of employees? We care because of the external impact beyond the bounds of the office property (traffic, environment).
We should focus on measuring and restraining the number of cars trips each property is allowed. Many communities use this method: the number of car trips daily to manage independent school growth. Restrain their carbon footprint as well.
Creativity loves restraint, if it's the right restraint. As one of the few residents who live in North Bayshore (who will live with the impact of this growth each day), I would rather see the city concerned directly with the main metric that matters: the number of car trips. And challenge companies to innovate if they want more people on site.
And why is there no talk about housing in North Bayshore? The most environmental track (with in the city's sole planning authority) is to plan for future residents to live by future workplaces, and eliminate the need of cars for those new communities, rather than plan new housing far from workplaces on an already busy road. The city council talks about making North Bayshore more "bike-able," but bike from where when housing is so far?
Combine "bike-ability" with local housing by these growing workplaces and focus on the metric that matters: cars. Lets see what innovations in transportation the private sector can develop.
Google's dormitory idea was terrific, but it would've resulted in affordable housing for the rest of us, so Council turned it down.
The city council seems to think that "only" 3.4 million sf of new office space in North Bayshore constitutes moderation.
3.4 million sf, 15,000 new employees. Next, of course, we will hear that it is the city's obligation to approve 15,000 more units of high density housing. And it may not stop there. The general plan is way too permissive, Planning has a vision of a high-density future, and the council is unwilling or unable to give responsible direction.
We can't keep doing this. The next election can't come soon enough.
It is a office park, yes make it more like a giant campus with the main core near housing. Office core to east, Terra Bella and Shoreline Blvd can be one part housing and commercial. Dorm housing is fine but not.everyone.wants to work for Google.
El Camino Real, those small lots, 2 story shared housing with retail
@Christopher Chiang - Unfortunately, there cannot be housing in North Bayshore with the current City Council because they voted it down on a 4-3 vote and made it part of the General Plan. The only way to get housing there now is to vote in a new council that would be willing to amend the General Plan to allow housing in the North Bayshore.
Also, depending on when the Precise Plan is approved, that may need to be amended a well.
@Moffett Resident -- I too am not anxious to see what 3.4 million square feet of office space will look like in an area that is so environmentally sensitive. This seems to be counter intuitive in my opinion.
Candidate, City Council
It already often takes 45 minutes to drive from El Camino to North Bayshore on Shoreline. With 15,000 more employees, how long will it take?
And why exactly do a few residential units threaten the environment so much, but 15,000 more employees is fine? Seems like an odd double standard.
"And why exactly do a few residential units threaten the environment so much, but 15,000 more employees is fine? Seems like an odd double standard."
Speaking off odd double standards...
Rachel Grossman is employed by Google as a Real Estate Project Executive and also serves as Chair of the Environmental Planning Commission for the City of Mountain View. Seems like an odd double standard as well, or perhaps it's simply a conflict of interest?
I would be interested to know if she recuses herself from serving in that capacity when it comes to considering zoning (and other) issues that have the clear potential to involve her employer, Google.
If the city attorney has looked at the issue, one should be able to get a copy of any opinion letter s/he drafted regarding Ms. Grossman's appointment via a FOIA request.
Nick, I'm not sure your figures are correct. What time are you talking about when you say 45 minutes from El Camino to Google on Shoreline? Should take you 15 minutes at most. If you mean you drive 5 blocks on El Camino first, then I might agree with your 45 minute assessment. El Camino is the worst.
It seems odd for the city to disallow housing near the jobs, and then be concerned about traffic.
Drive from Central Expressway to 101 at 9:00 a.m. on a workday.
It is bumper to bumper. Cars make U turns along Shoreline to find a less frustrating route.
I turn off Miramonte and take side streets to Middlefield
Imagine how bad 101 will be, North and South, at "rush" hours. I agree with Moffett Resident.
I agree that we should focus on measuring and restraining the number of cars trips each property is allowed such as they way Palo Alto does with Stanford.
However, if you drive on North Shoreline around 9:00 a.m. or Garcia Avenue around 6:00 you will see that we already have gridlock. Adding any cars will just increase the gridlock.
Council member Ronit Bryant said she was uncomfortable with allowing eight-story buildings.
"What I wanted to see was a Stanford campus," but instead she said there were "trees along the street and then just buildings and buildings and buildings and we've lost the character of North Bayshore. We are pushing for too much development."
Ronit - You are 100% correct!!!
I frequently take Shoreline at 8 a.m. and sometimes I travel through the Google campus after 5 p.m. and it's not that bad, especially if you're not gunning for the 101.
Pro-tip: skip Charleston entirely and use Ampitheatre Pkwy
I don't get it, we are at critical levels of water supply and yet we are still talking about more and more construction.
Soon our water supplies won't last more than a month with all the thirsty new gulpers, even if we have regular rainfall.
But I guess even logic can get put aside when money is concerned.
San Jose has been building high density housing and new industrial space for years in the North First Street area. They have housing and transportation close to business complexes and it seems to be working out there. There is more of the same close by in Milpitas. I don't see why we can't follow a model of putting our housing, work and transportation in close proximity as other cities have done. Why do we encourage those who work in our city to live farther away and create such a logistical mess for those who live here? We should be a "complete package" city that not only employees people, but makes them want to live here. If these large companies have plenty of housing available we might find that we can all afford to live here.
@Money talks, everything else doesn't --
"I don't get it, we are at critical levels of water supply and yet we are still talking about more and more construction.
Soon our water supplies won't last more than a month with all the thirsty new gulpers, even if we have regular rainfall."
Well, you may be opposed to new construction in North Bayshore, but relying on the current drought as your justification is not defensible.
Per the Mercury News on 1/26/2014, "Santa Clara County, for example, uses the same amount of water now, about 350,000 acre feet a year, as it did in 1980, even though the population has increased from 1.3 million people to 1.9 million people." Web Link
So over a 30-year period, we saw our population grow by nearly 50 percent, and were able to hold our water use constant. And think of all the places where we can still conserve - tons of lawns that can still be replaced with drought-tolerant landscaping, lots of old water-hogging appliances that can be upgraded, many more areas where we can use recycled water.
I'm not downplaying the current drought - it's serious - but some additional office space in Mountain View - which would be new buildings and required to meet the strictest water-conservation standards - is not what's going to make or break our water situation.
45 minutes from El Camino Real to North Bayshore, might have been an accident.
Before they build, alternatives to single car travel must be planned and put in place as workers are added.
Google is spending money on shuttles, if people live close to shuttles, people will ride.
No free parking, if you come with a full car with your coworkers, free parking.
Not everyone will want to live in a Google dorm. Not everyone will work for Google. We need to work on different housing mixes.
Single family homes, low rise apartment building and strip malls make up the majority of buildings.
The 45 minutes might have been due to an accident, but it is regularly 25 minutes or more at the worst time of day (around 9am), and a bit worse when it's raining.
If it is saturated at rush hour now, it will always be saturated with that level of growth. It's not good for the environment, families, or communities for so many workers to be stuck in cars for 20+ minutes just to go a few miles, and yet walking/biking options are not very viable (biking routes are poor, periodic rain, dangerous after dark, physical disabilities, need to run errands, ...).
Need a mix of more roads or less density: and if there's no room for more roads, we shouldn't add more density. The best cities with high density have subways; without that, we'll be a gridlocked mess if we try to become like them.
Why did we elect a City Council that would even consider this insane high density, vote for only candidates that say they will STOP HIGH DENSITY IN MOUNTAIN VIEW.
I disagree that we should not build housing because of the belief that the area is "environmentally sensitive." The area is already developed, and already has housing on it. I tire of the Audubon Society and their influence on this Council. We dished out $800,000 in Nov. 2012 to improve the habitat for the 7 pairs of burrowing owls (which are not endangered) at Shoreline Park. Now they want to have a Habitat Management Association and establish Habitat Overlay Zones to restrict building in areas THEY deem environmentally sensitive. They also are against any housing, and if there is housing, they want it to not allow pets. Since when do they regulate how people can live their lives?
Build housing. Get on with it!
We have one of the largest burrowing owl habits left, I know people in housing left cats roam and dogs run free.
25 minutes in rush hour traffic is a breeze to some, if that is not healthy. What about spending 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, with no alternative.
Planning for thousands more jobs in North Bayshore is a huge mistake, particularly in the absence of suitable housing construction. It may be good for the city budget, but it's not good for the quality of life in Mountain View. Unless MV residents organize immediately against this plan, we will suffer irreversible consequences.
I really hope that the Los Altos City Council is not as screwed up as Mountain View's is. It seems the logical place to go to get away from all the crap building going on here. Although someone told me just last week the Google "wives" are snatching up land over there so I guess it is just a matter of time. I hope not.
You already have to circle for a half hour to go to dinner down town and that is a early dinner around 6 p.m. How did this nice town get so screwed up?
"You already have to circle for a half hour to go to dinner down town and that is a early dinner around 6 p.m"
Oh, please, can we stop with the ridiculous exaggeration on topics like this? Yes, it may have gotten a bit harder to find a parking spot in the most choice locations near downtown over the past few years (one of the byproducts of a healthy economy). But NO ONE is driving around for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot around downtown Mountain View (or even San Francisco, for that matter).
Near downtown Mountain View, if you're driving for more than 5 or so minutes looking for a parking spot, you either don't know where to look, or are too foolish to simply drive up to the top of the parking garage above CVS and walk. And even in SF people don't spend 30 minutes circling for parking because in most parts of the city, parking is metered or there are paid garages, which helps control the demand and leave some supply. Hmmm... using pricing as a way to balance supply and demand, like we do in almost every other aspect of our capitalist society. What a concept.
There was one side street with a lot of cool looking birds and lots of bird noises at Google. After they started renovating the building all the birds disappeared. Now you go past that place there are no birds except for crows.
I am not saying they shouldnt build. I'm just saying if they do build you can guarantee the nature will be dead meat.
Article excerpt from what's going on in Menlo Park with Facebook. People make fun of company housing or micro-housing, calling them "dorms," even taunting those interested in either to "grow up." What's not grown up about living closer to work, reducing traffic and consumption, increasing personal wellness by not being in their cars, and reducing their overall carbon footprint? I hope Mountain View residents entertain the idea to think bolder.
Facebook Town? Social Network Collaborating With Developer On Apartment Complex Near HQ
By David Cohen on October 3, 2013
Facebook agreed to subsidize 15 units in an upscale apartment complex in Menlo Park, Calif., in order to satisfy its agreement with the city that allowed it to expand its headquarters, but it turns out that the 630,000 square-foot, 394-unit complex, named Anton Menlo, is aimed at Facebook employees, although units are open to all comers.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Anton Menlo, which the social network is planning with developer St. Anton Partners, is seen as an extension of the company's Menlo Park headquarters, with its location less than two miles away, and its amenities including:
Bicycle repair shop with onsite storage.
Pet spa with doggy day care, pet walking services, and a dog park.
"Resort-inspired" pool, spa, and cabana area.
Indoor/outdoor wellness, yoga, and training facility with personal training.
Rooftop entertainment deck with three-themed areas.
A Facebook spokeswoman downplayed Anton Menlo's role in the company's employee-retention efforts, telling the Journal:
We're certainly excited to have more housing options closer to campus, but we believe that people work at Facebook because what they do is rewarding and they believe in our mission.
But Facebook Director of Real Estate John Tenanes, who is working with St. Anton Partners on planning the development, told the Journal:
The beauty of this thing is that it's extremely close to our campus. It's a five-minute bike ride (along a dedicated path that runs along the San Francisco Bay). You don't even have to put on the brakes.
Link: Web Link
@Christopher Chiang - While there are environmental benefits in these "dorms", there is a risk of creating private and insular towns within our cities. In your example, maybe the next steps will be separate schools, separate fire and police protection, dedicated streets, dedicated parks, separate governments? Developments have to be balanced with our community well-being.
Christopher - Reading the article that you linked to, and this Wall Street Journal article (Web Link), it seems that the development in Menlo Park won't be "micro" or dorm-style apartments, but rather just more "luxury" high density with lots of amenities - like Madera and 100 Moffett in MV, but twice as big. It is "aimed at Facebook employees," just as Madera and 100 Moffett are aimed at Google employees. The MP project units will rent for "market rate." Madera rates are currently $3500-$4300/month for a 1-BR apartment, $5000-$8000/month for a 2-BR apartment.
"Private Towns" is right, this sort of massive company housing would do nothing to foster tenants' sense of being part of the larger Mountain View community - on the contrary. I'd anticipate the same insular sense that occurs on college campuses. In addition, I don't think that "micro" or "dorm-style" apartments would be family-friendly in any way, shape, or form.
I haven't heard anyone taunting micro-apartment advocates to "grow up," but I have heard the phrase "even Googlers will grow up" and have families. Where will they live?
Here's what I want from present and future council members:
- Cut the amount of new office space for North Bayshore. Lenny Siegel is right - there are too many jobs for the housing supply. And we can't build that much housing without ruining the city's livability.
- Encourage construction of ownership housing (condos/townhouses), not high-density.
- Reduce permitted density in future apartment developments - 1.35 FAR, as opposed to the 1.85 and upwards that is being permitted now.
- Stop approving grossly underparked apartment developments. 1-BR units are mostly what is currently being built; they should be allotted 1.5 spaces or more per apartment, rather than 1 space, as is permitted now. The current "model parking standard" needs to be junked.
There's been many thoughtful ideas being exchanged here, I hope the candidates reflect on what is said by everyone (even if, or especially if, any of the ideas by varied commentators are counter to their existing beliefs).
I took pause when I read what was said two years ago when the community axed Google housing. They said: "This is not a university, people need to grow up and they need to go out" of where they work."
"Google housing axed in city's general plan" article link:
I received this article and community chat and even though I live in Sunnyvale, I wanted to comment. We are having the exact same debate in Sunnyvale. However, the residents of Mountain View should be grateful because at least you have a newspaper willing to moderate a public conversation. We are dealing with two yahoo groups and the conversation is not as elevated.
In my opinion I think we are all asking the wrong question. Instead of arguing the push and pull of these issues, we ought to be asking why? Why are these jumbo sized developments considered, why do we need to have the world-wide headquarters for the countries top 10 tech companies all within 10 miles of each other? Is there no other place in the U.S. any of them can locate? Why the urgency for so much development?
I think the answers lie in city employee compensation and pension programs, urban planning and open space decisions at a state a national level, election politics (both corruption and apathy playing a part) and developer greed.
Without a real plan for schools, traffic, water, sewers and air quality, I fear we will be living in a much different valley very soon. Some restraint, study and solutions are in urgent need.
Not 'no growth' - 'slow growth'.
Excerpting your comments...
"Why are these jumbo sized developments considered, why do we need to have the world-wide headquarters for the countries top 10 tech companies all within 10 miles of each other?... I think the answers lie in city employee compensation and pension programs, urban planning and open space decisions at a state a national level, election politics (both corruption and apathy playing a part) and developer greed."
So you think all those other reasons play a role, but not economics and market forces - the fact that technology companies like to locate in this area because it's near a world-class university, there is a highly-skilled work force, and a synergy to being near other tech companies? What an out-of-touch world view.
And, by the way, most other cities in the country would kill to have even one of these tech companies locate there, and most people wouldn't believe that residents here would suggest that we need fewer tech companies, or that we should disperse them. I prefer to think that we can keep our economic base intact, and not scare away these world-class companies, if we plan for the future in a smart way.
I don't understand the comments about housing in North Bayshore resulting in insular, private towns, and comparisons to Chinese workers, coal towns, "needing to grow up and get out" and so on.
Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought that employees who live on military bases (like Moffett Field), students who live on college campuses (like Davis, Chico, San Luis Obispo) and even seniors in retirement communities do lots of shopping, eating, and participating in the local community. Everyone I know who works at Google is married with kids who attend public school in MV.
Google already provides their employees with numerous on-site amenities, but getting there causes the huge traffic mess.
What is so bad about living close to work? Does residential housing threaten the burrowing owls in ways that office development does not?
I just want to understand the thinking behind the opposition to housing in North Bayshore. Thanks.
@Puzzled - My comment was based on Christopher Chiang's link to a story about Facebook in Menlo Park (since then, Facebook has proposed to subsidize additional police officers for its own area).
Insularity goes both ways; while the islanders might still visit the mainland, their islands might become out of reach or un-inviting for the mainlanders. Certainly not a good development for our community (Mountain View is small enough that we shouldn't parcel it out).
Personally, I'm not against housing type in North Bayshore but it's important that it not be just company centric to avoid the insular effect (mix it up with affordable housing and even senior housing).
Personally, I also don't quite understand the environmental concern. If I'm not mistaken, there is already housing in North Bayshore (trailer park near Stevens Creek).
To understand the thinking behind the opposition to housing in North Bayshore, this article provides more background than the one Christopher Chiang cited on 3/2:
You'll notice quotes from a few representatives of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. Search the MV Voice for those same names and you will see a lot of vocal opinions on Google's proposals for a bridge across the Stevens Creek. Not coincidentally, the Council has stonewalled on both the housing idea and the bridge proposal for almost 3 years now.
I am a birder (novice, but enthusiastic) and often visit the Shoreline area to appreciate the birds and their habitat, but I'm not sure if the right balance is being struck here between environmental/habitat concerns and other needs.
Burrowing Owls need their habitat, I know little about owls but aren't they nocturnal, creatures of the night. Build a limited amount of housing by 101. Maybe short to medium stay, with a hotel
Also putting up a sea of 3 to 4 story building will add just as many people but spread out.
I support the Google bridges.
Company housing or micro units, fine until some person finds another, then couples housing is needed, the family grows beyond company housing. Not everyone will work or want to work for the company.
Google housing style or when you travel go check out European dense cities or Japan. Not the city centers, but the neighborhoods.
It's certainly worth discussing whether housing at North Bayshore is a good idea or a poor one.
But whether we are talking about Madera-style "luxury" apartments, or micro-apartments, or whether it would be Google proprietary housing or open to anyone, or whether many tenants would actually work elsewhere, the bigger issue is that there is no way to provide housing for 15,000 new employees - not to mention the 10,000 existing Google employees, not to mention those that would occupy offices that may be put up at Moffett Field, not to mention expansion at other companies. The idea that these "living close to work" projects would be more than a drop in the bucket, is misguided. The numbers just don't match up. It's not a solution.
These new jobs would worsen our existing housing and traffic problems - period.
I don't always agree with Ronit Bryant, but here's a quote from the 2012 article that OMV Resident linked to:
"Initially the thought of including housing in the mix sounded intriguing and I was in favor of investigating it," Bryant wrote. "But the contemplated 1,550 units are not enough to create a real place, a neighborhood with services, retail, schools... I am not interested in creating an enclave of dense apartment blocks isolated from the rest of Mountain View -- nor am I interested in inventing a whole new city along the bay...
"And then there's the nature of North Bayshore. I envision it as an outstanding place along the bay where wildlife and cutting-edge technologies coexist. We've done well so far. We will do even better in the future. Housing is no more than a short walk away on the other side of 101. Several new apartment projects have recently been approved in Mountain View -- but there is no way we can single-handedly, in our 12-square mile city, solve the Bay Area's housing difficulties."
"it allowed to much development" -- too much
"the plans was unfair" -- were
This is ridiculous. I have no problem with more offices in Mountain View, but there needs to be at least as much new housing to go along with it. Scratch that, there needs to be much, much more housing than offices.
The city council needs to approve as much housing north of 101 as possible in addition to the office space, this will reduce the congestion, especially over the choke points on Shoreline and Rengstorff going over 101. Traffic comes from separating the places people work from the places that they live and shop, so the only sane answer is not to separate those things. People don't like to commute for hours, they only do it because there is no alternative.
We should be happy that jobs are coming to Mountain View, but everything else needs to keep up with that as well. We shouldn't be talking about ways to stifle them. It's a good problem to have, assuming our councils and activist residents aren't obstructionist when it comes to building sufficient housing and infrastructure.
Like it or not, Mountain View (and bay area) population is growing. We can try to resist building, which will result in driving out less affluent people, or we can build denser, allowing more people to live here, at the cost of becoming more urbanized.
Wow, more people in this area. I just hope that Century 16 stays put and then can remodel its theater auditoriums to stadium seating. I hope others feel this way.
Can't imagine just how Shoreline Blvd's traffic will be when all these high rises are built.
City Council needs a really check . Seriously !
You could build a sea of 3 to 5 story building and might get the same number of workers, more workers spread out over large area. I can understand having a core area, then spreading out from there or spreading them out all over the map.
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