In a planning commission meeting on Wednesday, Google declared support of zoning for as many as 5,000 homes north of Highway 101 -- the number deemed necessary to create a "self supporting community" next to its corporate headquarters.
Google's real estate director John Igoe made the comments at the Sept. 3 meeting in response to questions from Environmental Planning Commission chair Robert Cox, who noted Google's support for allowing 1,100 homes in North Bayshore when the city's general plan was approved in 2012.
Cox asked if Google would still support planning for those homes now, even if it required an amendment to the city's new general plan and the obvious delays that would come with a new vision for the area. Igoe's answer: "Yes." Cox then asked if Google supports a community of 5,000 homes in North Bayshore, as council candidate Lenny Siegel has proposed.
"When Randy (the city's planning director) originally put together the General Plan, the discussion we had with him at that time was that a really comprehensive community, a really self-supporting community, if you will, would be about 5,000 units," Igoe said. "We still think that having a community in North Bayshore is a good thing. So we would support the eventual growth of the number of housing units to approximately 5,000. It's really whatever is needed to create a community."
A majority of the commissioners at the meeting expressed opposition to housing in North Bayshore, including Robert Cox and three commissioners who are candidates for City Council in November: Ellen Kamei, Lisa Matichak and Margaret Capriles. Commissioners Todd Fernandez and John Scarboro supported housing in North Bayshore, while commissioner Kathy Trontell was absent.
A new criticism came from Matichak, who said the land in North Bayshore -- most of which is owned by Google -- is too expensive for housing development at $20 million an acre. She told the Voice that she had received that number from a real estate broker who wished to remain anonymous. Reportedly, the priciest local real estate buy to date was Google's recent purchase of 700 East Middlefield Road in Mountain View, at a cost of $10.4 million an acre.
The City Council is expected to take up the issue on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall in a study session on the North Bayshore precise plan.