Google wunderkind running for council
At 20 years old Aaron Jabbari is as young as City Council candidates come. But according to Jabbari's resume, taking on a challenge is not unusual for him.
Throughout most of high school, Jabbari worked a full-time job in the evenings as a network engineer while he also took community college classes to get a jump start on college. While getting his bachelor's degree in political economy in a year and a half at the University of California at Berkeley, he and a friend founded a real estate investment firm, Marino Woodard Properties, LLC, and raised money for real estate investments for 10 months. That was on top of other extracurricular activities, such as the "Be a Mentor" club he started and time spent with his new girlfriend.
It all might sound impossible, but his resume passed muster with Google, which hired him four months ago as an online advertising account manager. He said he accomplished it all through regular exercise, a healthy diet and lots of support from his family as he grew up in Laguna Beach. A positive attitude appears to be working for him as well.
"I'm just a really happy person," he said. "Every day is the best day of my life."
In college he spent two months as a marketing intern for Altria, the parent company of cigarette-maker Phillip Morris, and presented the board of directors with some ideas that he said were used to increase profits.
Some of his work at Altria helped the company sell cigarettes, he said, but "I was able to justify it to myself because people are able to choose whether they want to smoke or not," and because the tobacco industry creates jobs for people. He said he feels worse about being a part of the real estate industry in 2008 and 2009 that helped lead to the recession.
Despite any regrets, Jabbari discovered a passion for urban planning while in the real estate business. And he says he has learned to place himself in environments where he can learn from people; hence his job at Google.
Jabbari's job at Google involves selling Adsense ads and coming up with online advertising strategies.
In his typical day at Google, he arrives at work at 7:30 a.m. and leaves at 8 p.m. But he says he ends up spending eight hours a day actually working because he eats every meal at work, spends an hour a day in Google's gym, and attends events there.
Despite the time spent at Google, he is looking to use his extra "bandwidth" to be more involved in the larger community.
"I really want to use every inch of my energy," he said.
Google "is a really fun and comfortable place to be. But I also think that fun and comfortable place can be Mountain View City Hall."
Urban planning is one of Jabbari's favorite subjects, and he can talk about the benefits of Mountain View's open space-inclusive development pattern over San Francisco's, where he nearly decided to live. Instead, he rented a home from a friend in the new Regis Homes development at Sierra Vista and Colony streets, where he lives with his girlfriend.
As a member of the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Jabbari has attended several recent general plan meetings where the group's members have advocated for dense, centralized and transit-oriented development. But Jabbari stressed that the city's single-family neighborhoods should remain preserved and unchanged. He agrees with the focus of the city's general plan update that encourages redevelopment only in "key areas" of the city.
Jabbari said his top two campaign issues are responsible city budgeting and advocating for housing development that is affordable for the city's young tech workers, which would address the housing-jobs imbalance in Mountain View that some have been pointing to for years.
"Part of the way we could make up our budget deficit is through development, which will grow our economic tax base," Jabbari said. "Traditional housing development has sapped money" from the city because it is "expensive to get services to that sort of housing."
Jabbari said he supports building dense, non-subsidized housing in the city's "underutilized" industrial areas, including Google's North Bayshore neighborhood, where he would like to see enough housing to support a grocery store, among other services. That would "accommodate new, younger residents who need affordable housing," he said, "while allowing families the quality of life and neighborhood they desire."
As to the city budget, he said he doesn't believe that city workers, whose salaries are 80 percent of the city budget, are generally overpaid. But he does believe that there isn't enough return for the dollars spent on certain city services. A case in point: He believes that the city should not subsidize the Shoreline Golf Links, which is losing nearly $1 million a year. He says the land should be made profitable, the property sold, or the operations outsourced to a private firm.
E-mail Daniel DeBolt at email@example.com