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Google takes a lashing over bridge idea

Original post made on Jul 6, 2011

City council members acted as the protective parents of the Stevens Creek trail Tuesday as Google pitched a plan for a pair of private bridges over the creek to a planned Google campus at NASA Ames.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 2:53 PM

Comments (43)

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Posted by monorail
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

What happened to the monorail that Google was investing in last year? This is the perfect application for their technology. Web Link


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Posted by Michael
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Time for Google to build some flying cars!


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2011 at 8:34 pm

The market cap of Google is 172 BILLION dollars, and the city of MV will get $700,000/year?? For allowing many many acres of development, increased costs for safety and fire, and huge traffic/eduction/housing burden? THat does not begin to pay for itself. Why are we tolerating Google at all? THey don't pay their fair share of taxes in MV. There are homeowners paying $20K/year in property taxes; multiply that by 35 homes and you have $700 K, what the heck difference is it if we even have Google in town at all?? Not to mention the fact they want to disrupt the Stevens Creek trail and put "private" bridges in. If there are bridges allowed at all, part of the deal should be that Google pays for perpetual maintainence! And builds a school and a park in addition.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

P.S. When deciding if you support allowing Google to get more freebies, keep in mind that this is the company that PAID dozens of employees to stand in their parking lots just feet from Shoreline and keep all of the families of Mountain View from parking there and watching the fireworks on July 4th!!! THANKS GOOGLE!!


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Posted by TrickleDownWorksSometimes
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I'm one of those paying $20k poer year in property tax (you're welcome, BTW). Have a few neighbors that are google employees also paying $20k per year (not a google employee myself). To deny that google is a net gain for the city is ridiculous. fair share? well that is another story, but google is certainly not alone as far as corporate citizenry... better than most in fact.


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Posted by TrickleDownWorksSometimes
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm

and as far as letting the public watch fireworks from google lots??? blame that one on the lawyers... no company in their right mind would allow it in today's litiguous society.


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Posted by Liz
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 7, 2011 at 4:18 am

The bridges should be open to the public. Matter of fact, all of Moffett Field should just be opened up to the public since they plan to build all these public facilities there anyway such as the research park and university. There's talk of converting Hangar One into a convention center and/or museum as well. And of course, there's also the potential of the World's Fair/Expo leaving behind some landmarks.

There's been talk before of the City sharing the cost of Google's high-occupancy fleet of buses for use as a public shuttle. A perfect route would be a loop from the Googleplex to the new Google campus on Moffett Field, the NASA/Ames Campus and Research Park, and Hangar One, down the Ellis Gate to the newly leased Google complex (former Netscape Buildings) on Ellis Street, down Whisman Road to Slater Elementary (which is being used for daycare by Google employees), up Castro Street and downtown, over to the "Courtyard" campus on Villa Street which Google just purchased, and back up Shoreline to the Googleplex.


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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

All of this private land and private bridges amounts to elitism/class-ism. Sound overboard? Well, let's just look at Google's hiring practices as an example. Do I really even need to get into it? I know 35 year+ valley professionals who were asked for their SAT score and college grades. Make sure you went to a big name school too, or you don't stand a chance no matter your qualifications. Moffett is their personal playground now, and there's actually consideration for private bridges that will move the trail so they can get to their private compound built on wetlands. Are you kidding me!?!

By the way, those Google employees who live in Mtn. View may pay their property taxes, but that doesn't make them good neighbors. In fact on my block they are anything but, and that's a consensus and not just my personal opinion.


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Posted by Gman
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I wish Google would open their cafeterias up to the public. If Symantec can do it I don't know why they can't. More elitism...


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Posted by not Mountain View
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thank you Abe-Koga, Bryant & Macias.

This does NOT feel like Mountain View at all.
I do like Google, but I do not want to live in Google View.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

how about doing something about all their employees that completely jam Shoreline Bl every morning?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm

A PRT system would be very cool, and we have a company here in Mountain View that has developed one that they are going to building in India and Detroit. The website is Web Link


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Posted by Tom Lustig
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm

This bridge is an opportunity to bring Light Rail to the Shoreline area.
It would serve employees and amphitheater attendees.
It would take traffic off Shoreline and Rengstorff Avenues.
Light Rail is already on Moffett Field property at Ellis Street.
The new line would run through NASA over to the Shoreline area.
Employees and amphitheater attendees would then have a traffic-free way to and from the Castro Train Station, or go on Light Rail south to the San Jose area.


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Posted by Laura Macias
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

As I stated at the study session, the City of Mountain View has invested $33M in the present 4.75 miles of Stevens Creek Trail including $10/11M from federal and state grants. The trail is a major public investment with public benefits for everyone in Mountain View and surrounding communities. There is no reason to change that principle.

As Michael and Monorail said, I agree it is worth a serious look at SkyTrain or PRT, personal rapid transit for North Bayshore and Moffett Field. I am not convinced that the numerous big buses that roam North Bayshore today are even 50% full, so adding to that traffic seems crazy.


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Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

"City council members acted as the protective parents of the Stevens Creek trail."

really? how dumb you think some of us are? city council is posturing themselves for some kind of quid pro quo. Google will have to do some personal favors to these city council. The city council know who they can milk. City council members' finances and tax returns need to be released to the public every year. Corruption gone unchecked.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Anyone complaining about Google and the 4th of July viewing can just can it. It has NOTHING to do with Google elitism. Simple fact is that in our society of litigation and no tort reform, Google has no choice. If you went there to view and your kid tripped on a curb or got hit by a car in the lot YOU would be ready to sue them into oblivion. This is nothing new. When I worked for Adobe over a decade or more ago (remember how they used to be one of MV's biggest employers?) they used to do the EXACT SAME THING. Google may be elitist in their hiring, but their private property policy is just standard.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

@localmom: If you really think Google only brings in $20K a year to Mountain View, there is really no hope for you. Seriously. They are paying $30 MILLION to Mountain View on just one recent transaction alone! I am not their hugest fan, but let's at least get our facts straight.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm

@localmom: I see you said $700K per year, not $20K. That was my error in reading your post. You are still WAY OFF in your estimate on what Google brings in to MV.


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Posted by existing bridge
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

There already is a bridge from Shoreline Park to Moffett Field at Crittenden Lane. Is Google planning on creating so much vehicle traffic that the existing bridge is inadequate?

If they really need an additional bridge, how about building it adjacent to Hwy 101. The Stevens Creek Trail already drops down at that point to go under the highway, so adding an additional bridge there wouldn't interfere too much more with the trail experience. I agree with the city council that forcing trail users to continuously climb up and down would be a big problem, especially for less than perfectly fit people (wheelchairs, elderly, small children, etc.).


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Posted by Member
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

You all sound like a bunch of spoiled rotten children! The City of Mtn View need money so they don't have to cut more of the budget. Google paying there share. It sound like you would rather have Google move somewhere else and then have services like the police and fire departments cuts. I think you all need to look outside the box. I have live in Mtn View for over 40 years. I pay my taxes and you know I have neigbhors that arent the greatest of neighbors and they aren't Google employees so how will you get ride of them? Lets be real people....


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Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

I am very pleased to see our city council members standing up to Google to protect the Stevens Creek Trail. I had read their proposal and really felt like both options proposed would be a detriment to the trail experience. Every time I use the trail these days I am amazed at how many people are out using the trail for both recreation and transportation. It is hard to imagine that we lived without it for so long.

I am quite hopeful that Google, now that they know what it is we all want, will be able to design a crossing that can maintain a level trail without an at-grade road crossing. Maybe it means the roadway crosses under the trail before it ramps up to the levee height and the trail diverts away from the levee at that location? I don't know the solution, but at least I am confident that Google is being provided direction for a new proposal that will protect the trail.

I do have to wonder, though, why two crossings are needed so close together with no crossing closer to 101? It seems to me that having a crossing at La Avenida would be a greater benefit to cyclists trying to access Moffett Field in general. It would be really nice to tie such a crossing in to a connection to Macon Ave so Stevens Creek Trail could provide a good route to Moffett Business Park, too.


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Posted by FarmerFrog
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Oh my GOD, I can't believe all the whining on here. You people are clueless.

@localmom: Seriously? Do you REALLY think Google only offers MV $700k/year? Like someone else said, you're hopeless if you honestly believe that.

@Bruno & Gman: Elitism? Really? They are a private company. They can do whatever they want. That isn't "elitism", it's running a company. They have every right to keep their benefits private - and because their benefits are so impressive, they have every right to be picky about who they hire. I guess you guys want them to cut you a check every week, too. Just sit on your butts at home and have them cut you a check because they share the same city you do.

Good grief...Californians will whine about ANYTHING. People, Google is a good neighbor. They are also one of the largest corporations in the world. We are lucky to have them share our zip code. Yes, that means there will be some headaches along the way. But overall, they pay their fair share of taxes. They offer our citizens jobs. They hire tens of thousands of people who eat at our local restaurants, shop at our shops, fill up at our gas stations.

Of course this bridge should be open to the public - and the council was right in throwing up road blocks to make sure this is done correctly. But for heaven's sake, it doesn't mean we have to ask them to move to Cupertino.


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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I have a job. A good job. I don't need a handout and I'm certainly not asking for one. Their company smacks of elitism both in their hiring process and with some of their employees. I don't want to watch fireworks in their parking lot, I don't even want to work there. I just want M.V. to stop bending over backwards as if it wasn't a symbiotic relationship. If Google wants to move to Cupertino, they can do that. Or maybe they can move to Milpitas or Fremont. I hear it's lovely there.


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Posted by FarmerFrog
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Thank god you don't run this city, Bruno.


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Posted by Member
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

When "Bruno" speaks of elitism, he may be referring to a few things - that Google has multiple jets at NASA and uses a federal airfield for their private use. Can you do that? No. The Voice article says that Google is planning housing on federal land. Can you live there? No. Yes, that is elitism on a major scale. Don't forget that your taxpayer dollars pay for NASA, but you don't have the same perks that the billionaire boys enjoy. And now they are talking about "private" bridges that take them from the Shoreline area into NASA? Do you really think that Sergei or Larry won't get into their private cars to drive over their private bridge to fly out on their private planes.....all at a federal institution?


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Posted by Look Deeper
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:26 am

Here's how I HOPE it doesn't work out:
Google comes to the city requesting a private bridge. Up in arms over the the "private" aspect, the council declares that the bridge should be for everyone and the masses agree: "Open the bridge to everyone". Suddenly the shift of the conversation isn't _should_ a bridge be built, but _when_ its built it should be public. Of course if its public, the city has to pay so Google will get the bridge they want at OUR expense. I like Google and what they do for MV, but Google is out for Google, not MV, and this could be a well thought out ploy to get the bridge they want(not need) that will only realistically serve the purpose of Google, paid for and maintained at city expense. SC Trail is a jewel to be enjoyed by the public. It should never be thought of as an in-the-way road block for Google's clown bikes. Lets remember: A bridge already exists in the immediate area. There is ZERO need by MV for yet ANOTHER bridge.


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Posted by rinconreggie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:00 am

How about tunnels?


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

Hmmm, I don't know where the $30 million/year contribution from Google comes in. They don't manufacture anything so they don't pay tax that way. I'm not sure how much they contribute in property taxes, is it $30 M? However do the math FarmerFrog and others! $30 M is 0.017% of their market cap, are we getting our fair share?? And 0.0% of it goes to the schools, or the trail, or to sponsor kids' softball teams...have you ever even once seen a Google shirt on a kid? At a parade? I still think the amount of traffic (Shoreline is impassible during part of the day, and adding access FROM the Shoreline side to the MOffett side WILL make that worse), competition for housing, lack of focus on hiring locals, is part of the equation to consider. Google certainly isn't giving the citizens of MV any handouts (and perhaps neither would any other company), and we shouldn't give them any either. Particularly if you are an MV resident tax payer and use the trail, have little kids learning to bike on it, etc. THis is a no-win (no advantage) situation for the rest of us even if the bridges are "public". Folks we have no reason to use them and go from one side of the Googleplex to another!!! I'm not asking Google to move out, I suppose that would be worse b/c likely we'd have fewer high paying/paid residents to pay THEIR taxes to MV, but I do have to point out that one of the commentators from Old MV said that things are pretty much the same around here, no better and no worse, b/c of Google. Shouldn't they be BETTER? It's one of the highest valued corporations in the WORLD! I don't think other states and municipalities would stand for this. I know in the past companies like IBM and others actually contributed to the community they operated in and made it a nicer place to live. Building high throughput traffic crossings over a precious natural resource is a losing proposition. The citizens of MV have priority.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:29 am

Wow, I'm amazed at the amount of Google bashing going on. It really does sound like a bunch of spoiled children. Our state has over 10% unemployment and cities are cutting critical services, yet we have a balanced budget, solid services, good schools, and free wi-fi. Google is part fo the reason for that, both from tax revenues and from all the employees who live here, pay taxes, shop, and keep home prices higher than they otherwise would be.

I have no connection to Google and never have, but bashing them is just plain dumb.

As to the point of this discussion, if Google wants to build a bridge to provide direct, efficient traffic within their buildings, we should let them with the caveat that the bridge look nice. That new Cupertino foot bridge is absolutely gorgeous, for example.

That part of the trail is boring -- have you actually been on it? It it will make it more interesting to go up and down. C'mon, let's be reasonable here.


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Posted by Look Deeper
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 9:52 am

I absolutely agree that we should not bash Google, but just because an area isn't filled with man made items, does not make it "Boring".
The natural environment of the tidal bay zone may not be Yosemite, but we don't need to start plopping artful bridges all over it because some are unable to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.
Remember, there is ALREADY a very usable bridge in that area.

Remember, just because Google is a valued company in the area, it does not deserve special treatment at the expense or exclusion of the rest of MV's citizenry.


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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:07 am

Do you Google defenders really think that their top brass cares about our community? They want to build a bridge to Moffett so they can hop onto their planes without having to travel through Mountain View. It's their own private corner of the city.

If Larry Page cares as much about his Mountain View neighbors as he does his neighbors in Palo Alto, we might be in trouble.

Web Link


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Posted by Readying for the Fight
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm

The Google defenders are the ones calling other posters here whiners and babies. As its likely these folks have ties to Google, it speaks volumes as to how Google really thinks about the community.


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Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

The following comments were moved from a duplicate thread which has now been closed:

Posted by Steve, a resident of the Jackson Park neighborhood, 20 hours ago

Doesn't NASA have their own fire dept on that side already? Seems logical, so why not contrib a few dollars for the upgrades necessary to allow them to cover Google's assets in their area too.

And lower the trail? No. That would ruin a lovely ride and view that thousands of cyclists/hikers/skaters enjoy.

An overpass bridge large enough for vehicles would also be an eyesore.

Let Google go under instead.

Not trying to sound anti-Google or anything, but they can afford to tunnel under, more than the city could. And since it would be pretty much there for Google's convenience (nobody else wants it), They should absorb the total cost.

It need not be all that wide if traffic across is going to be as light as they state then a tube one lane wide (wide enough for one "fire truck", then it shouldn't cost too much. If they expect significant 2-way traffic, then the bridge

Such a tunnel would give them the ability to cross tot he NASA side without affecting the trail's path nor ruin it's views. It's a WIN-WIN solution to me.
------------------------------------

Posted by MV Resident, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, 3 hours ago

The tunnel for vehicles sounds like a good idea - if it can be large enough to allow fire trucks.

But the other key aspect here is financial - keep it private, so Google pays to maintain it (not us taxpayers), and get that $700K per year for other important city services that we continue to cut or underfund like the library.


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Posted by Wife of a Googler
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I don't see the connection between public and public funded. Where I came from the city told the developers that if they wanted to build a hotel on the beach they had to provide public access to beaches and public parking public restrooms etc. Why not tell them that they can put in the bridges but only if they can be used by everyone.

As far as the Google cafeterias are concerned I would not get too envious. They are crowded and very cafeteria like in their ambiance. The food varies from very good to so so and is served like a buffet so much of it is not as warm as you might hope for. It is simply a perk of the job. All jobs have them.

It is an elite group in that your chances of getting hired are worse than your chances of getting into Harvard. They are one of the best companies to work for in the country and so they can be picky. That is just the way it is.

Look on the bright side. Googlers are putting pressure on your housing to go up with all the Googlers that need a place to live. We bought in Mountain View and our next door neighbor works there too. We both are investing in the neighborhood by updating houses older than we are. We are also hiring contractors, gardeners, carpenters, dentists etc.


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Posted by How About a Zip Line?
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

How about setting up zip lines over the creek? This summer, there is one setup over Market Street in SF; would be lots of fun for Googlers and Stevens Creek patrons alike.

Web Link


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Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm

That part of the trail is boring, and is not really "natural" either. There is not much beauty to speak of.

Generally I do not like private bridges and roads. But in this case I think what Google does is fine, because there is no pre-existing traffic that will be affected.

I think Mountain View should approve the two bridges with the following conditions:

(1) Google needs to beautify the surrounding, spend some money to upgrade the trails. Better banks, improved vegetation covering, some trees, rest benches, water fountains, etc.

(2) The City should have the option to make the bridges publicly accessible after 50 years.




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Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

BTW, it is false to say that it is harder to get into Google than into Harvard.

Anybody can email a resume to Google. Only the current graduating high school students may apply Harvard. Besides, most students, i.e. the bottom 90%, don't even bother, and most parents don't want to waste the application fee. The quality of Harvard applicants is way higher than Google applicants. The low rate of Google acceptance is in no way an indication of eliteness vs. Harvard.


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Posted by KD
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Goggle is 10x more selective than Harvard (if selectivity is something that can be compared)

In the months leading up to January 2011, Harvard received 34,960 applications for the Class of 2015. From that pool, 2,158 students (including legacy applicants) received acceptance notices for an acceptance rate of 6.2%.

During the last week of January, 2011, (after announcing that they were going to hire 6,000 additional employees) Google received 75,000 (3.9 million, annualized) job applications.

The company receives an average of 1,000,000 job applications a year. Assuming they hire 6,000, it represents .6% of the average applicant pool.


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Posted by KD
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Google owns or leases approximately 4.5 million square feet of office space in Mountain View. Assuming an average value / purchase price of $300 per square foot and an average tax rate of 1%, they pay approximately $13.5 million in property taxes.

The City of Mountain View receives around 15% of that figure ($2 million)with the rest going to the county and state. As an FYI, $2 million is approximately 8% of all property taxes received by the City; Google is the largest taxpayer - by far.

Then of course, there are the assessments for hospitals, retirement levies, community college bonds, high school bonds, elementary school bonds, water district, and special assessments. For additional detail, take a look at your property tax bill. These total approximately .11% of assessed value, or another $1,500,000.

In addition to property taxes on office space, Google owns vacant land (on which it pays property taxes)and leases land from the city (for which it pays annual rent and in one recent case prepaid 48 years rent - which is likely where the $30 million figure quoted above comes from).

I estimate the total annual contribution to the City (excluding charitable donations, wi-fi, bookmobile funding etc) to be around $5 million a year.

In so far as the bridges are concerned, I echo James Hoosac on this one, let Google build the bridges.


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Posted by Emma
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Some Google employees (and other people who work in the area) use the trail to bike to and from work. If the bridges connect with the trail as shown in one of the proposals (instead of going over or even under) wouldn't it help ease car traffic on Shoreline, 101, etc? Just a thought...


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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Nice to see that some council members still like to posture and think of themselves as so important. Lets hope some common sense prevails with some of the wiser council members.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Moving the trails off the levees for that stretch will:

- impede access for the elderly, people with kids and strollers (tons of both out there every weekend)
- will it force the trail to shut down in winter as with the 101 under crossing in Palo Alto? The fact that it puts the trail below flood level makes me wonder (yes, I know its a 100 year flood zone-- there are a LOT of regs surrounding building and such in flood zones, its not just about when the trail might actually be under water)

Both of those items should be deal breakers


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

@KD- two flaws in your logic:

- most of Googles space is in the idiotic Shoreline tax district (not Googles doing, but its a fact). City does not see the same benefit. Golf course does. Live Nation probably gets more benefit than the local schools. You'll never see a pothole out in Shoreline, but I've had one on my street forever.
- while many of those buildings might be empty TODAY, the property owners would still be paying comparable property tax.


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