News

Google delays Bay View office project at NASA Ames

After the City Council refused to approve a shuttle bridge for Google over Stevens Creek, Google has announced the delay of a controversial office project that would put 3,600 employees amidst wildlife at the north end of NASA Ames Research Center.

Google had planned on building a 1.1 million-square-foot campus across Stevens Creek from its headquarters, set to be occupied by in 2015. But the company is reportedly delaying the development for six months to a year.

The auto and pedestrian bridge over Stevens Creek would have provided a critical connection for circulating employee shuttles to and from the campus as Google tries to lessen traffic impacts in North Bayshore and through NASA Ames. In January the City Council delayed a vote on the the bridge until a North Bayshore area transportation study was complete, despite comments from Google's David Radcliffe that postponing action would mean delay the opening of the campus for a year.

"The transportation study came and we said we still don't want those bridges," said council member Jac Siegel. "We didn't even go ahead with a study or an EIR (environmental impact report)."

Siegel added that Google may be waiting for three of the four people who voted against the bridges to term out of office in a year and a half - Ronit Bryant, Margaret Abe-Koga and Siegel. John McAlister also voted against the bridge.

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In an email to the Voice, a Google spokesperson had a different explanation, saying, "We want to make our Bay View campus a terrific and environmentally sustainable place for Googlers to work. To make sure we get it right, we're being thoughtful in our design process."

The Google spokesperson declined to answer questions about whether the project's delay had to do with the City Council's unwillingness to approve the bridge.

In a talk at NASA Ames in June, a team of designers for the project described it as one of the most technically advanced green office buildings ever built. One challenge may be designing the water recycling system that makes use of wetlands to filter water on a scale large enough for 3,600 employees.

The announcement also came a month after the Audubon Society criticized the development's impact on wildlife in the area in the Voice. Wildlife that may use the "upland habitat" area include the rare burrowing owl, the California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse.

"We are happy to see that Google has taken our concerns into consideration and is looking to redesign their campus in way that would be more environmentally friendly," said Shani Kleinhaus, environmental advocate for the Audubon Society.

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Last year several conservation groups said a new auto bridge from the end of Crittenden Lane in particular would have been unnecessarily harmful to a long list of animals and birds. Because the Bay View parcel is on federal property, there was no requirement that such input be collected for the office project itself, and the project has largely escaped public oversight.

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Google delays Bay View office project at NASA Ames

by Daniel DeBolt / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 4:50 pm

After the City Council refused to approve a shuttle bridge for Google over Stevens Creek, Google has announced the delay of a controversial office project that would put 3,600 employees amidst wildlife at the north end of NASA Ames Research Center.

Google had planned on building a 1.1 million-square-foot campus across Stevens Creek from its headquarters, set to be occupied by in 2015. But the company is reportedly delaying the development for six months to a year.

The auto and pedestrian bridge over Stevens Creek would have provided a critical connection for circulating employee shuttles to and from the campus as Google tries to lessen traffic impacts in North Bayshore and through NASA Ames. In January the City Council delayed a vote on the the bridge until a North Bayshore area transportation study was complete, despite comments from Google's David Radcliffe that postponing action would mean delay the opening of the campus for a year.

"The transportation study came and we said we still don't want those bridges," said council member Jac Siegel. "We didn't even go ahead with a study or an EIR (environmental impact report)."

Siegel added that Google may be waiting for three of the four people who voted against the bridges to term out of office in a year and a half - Ronit Bryant, Margaret Abe-Koga and Siegel. John McAlister also voted against the bridge.

In an email to the Voice, a Google spokesperson had a different explanation, saying, "We want to make our Bay View campus a terrific and environmentally sustainable place for Googlers to work. To make sure we get it right, we're being thoughtful in our design process."

The Google spokesperson declined to answer questions about whether the project's delay had to do with the City Council's unwillingness to approve the bridge.

In a talk at NASA Ames in June, a team of designers for the project described it as one of the most technically advanced green office buildings ever built. One challenge may be designing the water recycling system that makes use of wetlands to filter water on a scale large enough for 3,600 employees.

The announcement also came a month after the Audubon Society criticized the development's impact on wildlife in the area in the Voice. Wildlife that may use the "upland habitat" area include the rare burrowing owl, the California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse.

"We are happy to see that Google has taken our concerns into consideration and is looking to redesign their campus in way that would be more environmentally friendly," said Shani Kleinhaus, environmental advocate for the Audubon Society.

Last year several conservation groups said a new auto bridge from the end of Crittenden Lane in particular would have been unnecessarily harmful to a long list of animals and birds. Because the Bay View parcel is on federal property, there was no requirement that such input be collected for the office project itself, and the project has largely escaped public oversight.

Comments

Brent Minor
Whisman Station
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm
Brent Minor, Whisman Station
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm

How can Google build a new facility on wetlands that contain endangered species (like the burrowing owl) in the first place? Something fishy here....


Its OK
Blossom Valley
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm
Its OK, Blossom Valley
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Burrowing owls do not live in "wetlands". Its also questionable whether or not there are actually anymore owls in their habitat(inland from the wetlands. MV set aside the land, but not sure if any owls live there anymore.
In any event, I'm glad its been delayed. I don't think it was a great plan in the first place, and now that they have bought up property in PA they may not need this development.


No comment
another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm
No comment, another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Or maybe they are postponing the project, because they just bought new real estate in Palo Alto. They could be thinking about expanding in another direction. What a difficult decision to try and navigate; wildlife vs. potential lost of income.


concerned
Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm
concerned, Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Not great reporting here. You start off saying insinuating that Google has delayed this because their bridge was not approved, and then you finally get around to listing several other reasons that could be the real cause of the delay. Stick to facts and quit skewing the details.


Ron
Waverly Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm
Ron, Waverly Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Notice towards the end "Because the Bay View parcel is on federal property, there was no requirement that such input be collected for the office project itself, and the project has largely escaped public oversight"

So there you go. It is on federal land, not protected wetlands. Google said if they did not get the approval they would delay the project (which will cost Mountain View). They did not get it, so they delayed. No mystery here.


Ron
Waverly Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm
Ron, Waverly Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm

@ concerned: I thought the article was pretty clear. They DID delay because of the bridge (or lack thereof). The other stuff is mentioned, but it is clearly stated that since the parcel is on federal land, Google did not have to listen to any of it.


Bruce Karney
Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Bruce Karney, Old Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm

It appears to me that most of the land for the campus has already been graded. Wouldn't this eliminate its usefulness as habitat for the 3 species of concern? The graded area appears to be at an elevation that is too high to be "wetlands" as the term is commonly understood. But perhaps there's a technical definition under which it would be considered to be such.


Steve
Sylvan Park
on Jul 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm
Steve, Sylvan Park
on Jul 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

See other article about their recent purchase in Palo Alto. Did the city kill the goose that was laying those golden eggs?


Political Insider
Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 7:35 am
Political Insider, Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 7:35 am

"Siegel added that Google may be waiting for three of the four people who voted against the bridges to term out of office in a year and a half - Ronit Bryant, Margaret Abe-Koga and Siegel. John McAlister also voted against the bridge."

I doubt this is true.

GOOGLE doesnt need permission to put in a bridge. There is already one road over to the other side that has a state and federal right of way/


Political Observer
another community
on Jul 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm
Political Observer, another community
on Jul 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm

We're talking about Google adding a vehicle bridge, or adding 2 of them. The current bridges are pedestrian bridges. The one at Crittenden has no paved road running up to it on the business park side. The bridge connects to the top of the levees along the creek on each side. There is an issue with providing a paved road up to the top of the levee at Charleston, so Mountain View could effectively stop the use of the bridge by blocking that access, even if the bridge were strong enough to carry a bus.

As I understand it, at the Charleston location, the creation of a bridge is proposed to involve cutting through the levee, which certainly better be planned carefully.

There are a lot of people against the addition of these two vehicle bridges for a lot of different environmental reasons.


Joe
another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm
Joe, another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Google has heard the MV community, policy makers, and businesses loud and clear and is behaving as any good business would. Buying land in Palo Alto was a logical step. Way to go City Council...start planning for service cuts when Google leaves.


Political Observer
another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:03 pm
Political Observer, another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Hah Joe, just like Too Big to Fail for the banks with their cancerous growth since the elimination of Glass Stegel, Google is Too Big to Leave Mountain View. Spreading out is the right thing to do, for all sorts of reasons. If it means some space is left for other business to come, that's even better. Google could get zapped by economic changes, and Mountain View would suffer without other businesses already established.


Bridges over Stevens Creek
another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm
Bridges over Stevens Creek, another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm

There really should be full fledged road connections between the north of Bayshore areas in Mountain View. Right now Shoreline and Rengstorff are way busier than Moffett Blvd. Traffic could spread out if there were a better flow up there.

The environmental sensitivities of adding a bridge would be greatly reduced if it were done at La Avenida versus Crittenden and Charleston. It should be open to all traffic, not just Google private shuttles. La Avenida is directly level with what could be the west footing of the traffic bridge. The other side of Stevens Creek there was formerly base housing that has been torn down due to TCE contamination. The roads on the Moffet Field side of the bridge could connect in directly to Moffett Blvd. It would be a good resource to have, with or without a new bus bridge at Charleston, which is trickier to build to the levy on the West side, and closer to more sensitive areas.


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