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Google Town: imaging housing for all employees

Original post made on Mar 6, 2014

If you've ever wondered what Mountain View might look like if there was enough housing for all of Google's local employees, you aren't alone.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 7, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by Cuesta Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Please, please build LOTS of housing north of bayshore. It would reduce traffic and help to slow down rent increases in the rest of Mountain View.

If Council won't do that, then go the other way - cut WAY WAY back on office space and put in policies that REDUCES Google employee headcount. Again, this would help reduce traffic and keep rent and housing more affordable here.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Here's a link to this digital rendering:

Web Link



The link below is to an enlarged view of just the "googleplex" rendering:

Web Link


Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Readers should keep in mind that those are just the visions of a single designer and not what Google actually proposing.

If one was to look at designers, they should look at what Israeli architect Hillel Schocken proposed for Apple (a totally opposite gorgeous vision of an tech residential community)
Link: Web Link

Or another approach, micro apartments that are actually being built in Brazil for their their tech residential community (which includes Google Sao Paulo): Web Link


Posted by Moffett Resident, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:42 pm

What a depressing vision. According to the article, "Twu says the renderings are not a serious proposal, just a way to visualize how much housing might be needed." Still, the pictures are instructive:

As bad as it looks, this representation only shows what it would take to house 10,000 employees. According to the article, Google has 20,000 at present. Add to that another 20,000 new employees proposed for North Bayshore by 2030 (much sooner, I think), and thousands more in other areas of MV.

So let's do a little math. If you subscribe to the fantasy of trying to house these 40,000+ employees in MV to remedy the job/housing imbalance, you would be looking at - according to this architect - 160 "high-rise buildings, ranging in height from seven to fifty stories tall."

Obviously, trying to house this many employees in MV is an insane idea. There will be a drastic housing shortage no matter what. New construction will continue to be the sort that will generate maximum profits - in other words, more Madera-type apartments.

We can just drop the idea that MV is somehow obligated to provide more and more office space, and then house these new employees.

How to deal with this situation? Keep new office space to a minimum. That would help a little. Allow some new development, but only at a relatively low density. That would help a little. Encourage ownership housing, not Madera-type profiteering. That would help a little. Rent control? Probably a good idea, but unlikely to happen.

At the top of my list, though, is electing three new city council members this November, who will pay some attention to preserving residents' quality of life.


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

Moffett Resident: It's an artist's illustration. A serious proposal would be pretty different:

* It'd be spread over more land than Google's parking lot.

* One person per household? Try 3.2 instead. Web Link

* The more land we use for housing, the less we use for offices. We don't have to house the 40,000 employees you mentioned.

* I don't think Mountain View needs to completely solve the housing crisis on its own. I'd just like to see improvement rather than the opposite.

What about 5,000 apartments in 10-story buildings, averaging 1,000 square feet per apartment? 16,000 people in 11 acres of land for living space. You'd also need land for hallways, stairways and elevators, not to mention new parks, trails, light rail tracks, schools, fire stations, grocery stores, and such. I don't have numbers for those. In any case, it'd be a radical change from what the city council is doing now, but not so impossible.


Posted by Maksym Taran, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

The buildings in the rendering are all squeezed into the territory of Google's four central buildings (the green rectangle between Charleston and Amphitheatre in this map of Google's real estate Web Link). Per that map, Google owns at least ten times more land around the area so even "parking lot developments" like this would be reduced in height by a similar amount if the design included the parking lots in the rest of Google's territory.

Of course realism wasn't the point. But it's still misleading to say that this is built on "the parking lots of Google's headquarters" when it actually uses only a small fraction of the parking lots.


Posted by Martin, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Honestly, when was the last time we made a mistake and built an apartment complex that was too big? Let's err on that side for a change.


Posted by PeopleArePollution, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Cuesta Resident, What makes you think adding more houses will cut down on traffic?
If we add housing in North Bay shore, lets say mostly google people will likely move in
One spouse working at Google, one working someplace else.... so instead of one car comming to Mountain View, we have one leaving Mountain View. The children get packed into our already over crowded schools....(we are not building any new schools are we?)
Then first spouse gets a new job, say in Sunnyvale.... do they move? No! of course not! That would disrupt schooling, and it is an easy commute..... Now what does it do to cost? Do you think it is possible to build enough housing to make it so everyone that wants to move to Mountain View can? It has not worked yet for New York, Hong Kong, Shanghi.... How much housing shall we build for this experement? Have things gotten better or worse by adding more housing and more jobs? Twice the people behaving just the same.... Twice the cars, twice the impact on schools.

The myth that adding more houseing will make ANYTHING beter is just a myth made by people that build and rent housing! Stop dumping a City in my town! If you want to live in a city, move to one! Don't destroy my town with your social experements to try to prove a theory that has been disproven all over the world!

The very best thing Google could do for Mountain View is move to San Francisco or San Jose or any other CITY before they destroy our town with their growth.


Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

If every nearby town refused to build housing, people will be pushed to drive further, live further beyond their means, or pack into existing housing and surrounding infrastructure not designed for high density.

By ignoring housing, the problem doesn't disappear, it just manifests itself in traffic, stress, and secretly packed housing among existing supply. How are those manifestations any better for -our- town?

Hoping for that Google will leave just creates a new set of more severe problems. Anyone been to a town hit with underwater mortgages, vacant offices, and high unemployment?

Want to prevent extra traffic from housing in North Bayshore? Just don't build parking/or making parking costly in any new development. Unlike the rest of Mountain View, where that just severely impacts the adjacent neighborhood, North the 101, that's not a problem. It's not like someone will park their car on the other side of the 101. Better yet, allow development conditional to private investments in mass transit infrastructure finally connecting North Bayshore to Caltrains/VTA.

Even better yet, those who would live under such car restrictions could take advantage of biking to work on the Baylands bike paths if they weren't local. The most beautiful part of our town by the water is surrounded by offices, while we live in a sea of concrete.

We innovate all type of solutions in our life, yet we continue to view urban planning in the 20th century suburban context (big house, drive to work) that sits on a carbon footprint unconscionable for the 21st century.


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