News

LinkedIn wins big in North Bayshore land battle

Google's headline-grabbing campus plan fails to win council support

In a split vote Tuesday night, the Mountain View City Council laid out a future vision for North Bayshore, divvying up 2.2 million square feet in fiercely contested office development rights among several rival firms.

LinkedIn emerged as the big winner, receiving more than two-thirds the total allotted space for a proposed 10-building campus just off Highway 101. On the losing end were the dozen or so members from team Google, who seemed shell-shocked after seeing their proposal for a dramatic glass-canopied office park scuttled by the council majority on a 4-3 vote.

The much anticipated meeting on Tuesday, May 5, brought to a head months of competition for space to expand in North Bayshore. With Mountain View facing a shortage of available space for tech firms, city officials identified North Bayshore as one of the few areas left for expansion. Last December, city officials set a limit of 3.4 million square feet of bonus office development that would be allowed in the area. That cap effectively created a competition between Google and other firms looking to stake their claims in advance of the city meeting. By Tuesday that number had winnowed down to just 2.2 million square feet.

The council's decision gives the green light for winners to go ahead with submitting their plans to the city, with final approval of the individual projects yet to come.

More than one person described the process a "beauty contest", with contestants taking turns asserting the various perks and benefits they would bring to the community. To judge the various projects, Mountain View city officials last year laid out a list of criteria, including how well each project improved traffic, environmental sustainability and the city's overall vision for the area. But the city was still left in a dilemma with too many qualified projects fighting for too little space.

To call the meeting long would be an understatement. As the only significant item on the agenda, the North Bayshore deliberations stretched over six hours with a series of company presentations, public comments and much back-and-forth among elected leaders. Despite the length, the meeting remained packed with stakeholders the entire night, dwindling only slightly as it stretched past midnight.

Repeating a phrase he had often used in recent days, Mayor John McAlister explained his role was to "play Solomon" in slicing up the pie of limited space. Making the motion that eventually won the day, the mayor proposed giving smaller applicants Broadreach Capital Partners and Rees Properties their full requested space. LinkedIn was allocated 1.45 million bonus square feet, an amount just short of the company's entire request.

Meanwhile, the mayor proposed sacrificing most proposals from Google and The Sobrato Organization, the applicants who signaled the strongest commitment to bringing housing to the neighborhood. Google received support for only one of its four sites, a 515,000 square-foot allotment that would go to an eight-story building off Landings Drive. Plans for that site were meant to provide parking for the much larger expansion Google officials envisioned.

As the motion moved to a vote, exasperated Google representatives cried foul, saying they were being penalized for trying to adhere to the city's rules.

"This is such an unfair process, I'm concerned that the city is moving forward with it," said David Radcliffe, Google's vice president of real estate and workplace services. "This would be very, very difficult for us. We have a growth trajectory and we were anticipating substantially more than this."

In his opening pitch, Radcliffe described Google's full proposal as something that would "bring tears to your eyes." The company's full, 3.4 million-square-foot design called for crane-like robots to manipulate changeable interiors, and a series of unique glass-canopied buildings -- a startling vision that drew international headlines. In addition, the company indicated it would adapt its plans to include a swath of new housing, something city leaders added as a priority for applicants last month, following post-election changes in the council majority.

From the start of the Tuesday meeting, Radcliffe asked city officials to hold off on making any final decisions because he said more time was needed to study how the city's desire for housing would impact North Bayshore plans already in the pipeline.

Echoing that concern, Councilman Lenny Siegel emphatically urged his colleagues to postpone a decision until the completion a $1.2 million housing study approved by the council in April. Making judgments without info would be like "flying blind," he said. He criticized the mayor's motion for promoting office growth but leaving housing as an afterthought.

"We may be eliminating the chance to build the mixed-use community many of us have talked about," he said. "Why would Google make land available for housing, when they can build offices at the base floor ratio. It won't be as exciting … but it'll give their people a place to work."

Siegel offered a counter motion to delay any decision until next year. But the proposal ultimately lost in a 3-4 vote, with only council members Pat Showalter and Ken Rosenberg voting in favor of it.

The opposing council members expressed concerns that waiting on a decision would compromise other applicants, particularly LinkedIn.

The professional networking company had cobbled together a tenuous partnership between five separate landowners to develop a 6.79-acre site just off Shoreline Boulevard. The company's plans call for 10 buildings of mixed-use office and commercial space. with plans already in place for a new gym and movie theater.

If the council dithered on a decision, the land partnership could fall apart, putting "millions of dollars at risk for no reason," warned LinkedIn representative Jim Morgensen.

"This is not a small investment and the reality is we'll have a substantial investment at risk," he said. "The longer we wait, the more this fragile relationship will erode. It's really as simple as that."

Those pleas got some backing from the council, particularly because LinkedIn representatives pointed out they had only a small foothold in North Bayshore whereas Google owns hundreds of acres. As icing on the cake, Mortgensen reminded the council his group would pledge to give $40 million to the MidPen Housing Coalition for affordable housing projects in Mountain View.

In comparison, Google offered a wide range of community amenities, including 31 acres of new parks, hundreds of affordable homes and a network of new bike trails. More than one council member described the company's full proposal as the most impressive of the bunch.

But Google's request for everything on the table left some council members unsympathetic. With only 2.2 million square feet in bonus space to dole out, Mountain View leaders say they were hard-pressed to take Google's bid for 2.5 million seriously.

"Google's original proposal exceeded the amount of developable land," chided Councilman Mike Kasperzak. "At some point, we couldn't even have done that."

Speaking for Google, Radcliffe reminded city officials that the original space available was 2.5 million square feet, but the city later reduced that cap.

Other council members proposed ways to give more office space to Google, but those pitches went nowhere. Siegel offered what he dubbed "an unfriendly amendment" to McAlister's motion to reduce LinkedIn's allotment by about 100,000 square feet and give that portion to Google. The amendment died without a second.

As a concession to keep some housing in the equation, McAlister offered Sobrato and Google a future opportunity to increase their allotment by showing how much office space they could retire to create future housing.

That was essentially useless, Radcliffe said, because his company would need to retain all its remaining office space.

The city approved McAlister's motion in a 4-3 vote, with Clark, Siegel and Rosenberg opposed.

In a separate 6-1 vote with Siegel dissenting, council members also signaled they would give future consideration for a 200-room hotel project being proposed in North Bayshore by the Shashi Group. Council members indicated they wanted staff to negotiate with Shashi representatives on adequate community benefits before the project is moved forward.

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Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Whoa
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

I didn't see this coming.

Naturally, everyone will stop saying that Google gets whatever they want in Mountain View.


53 people like this
Posted by Thanks for trying, Lenny
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

I really didn't see this coming, but Lenny appeared to be the only member of Council with both a backbone and some common sense. This decision is a disaster in the making, no matter how you slice it.

Thanks for trying Lenny, please keep up the good work.


19 people like this
Posted by Simma Downa
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm

So Google wanted a huge space as well as space for parking to handle the employees of the huge space. They gave them just the parking lot.
OUCH!
Anyone who says this town is all about giving Google what they want can now hush-up or look foolish.


35 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 6, 2015 at 2:33 pm

True is a registered user.

Once again the MV council makes an important decision without having all the facts on the table.

Shamefull.


16 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm

I'm very happy with the council's decision. Congratulations to LinkedIn.


46 people like this
Posted by myopic council
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 6, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Mountain View City Council chose a mundane dinosaurish design over vision and livability while neglecting to consider true benefits to the community. At some point it sounded like a market place in the middle east with an embarrassing mix of haggling and extortion.
So disappointing.


61 people like this
Posted by Kevin McBride
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm

This is a mistake. Google has a vision. To squash that for some mundane additional office space is a great disservice to Mountain View.


25 people like this
Posted by Do the math
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Just for reference,

LinkedIn
Market cap: 25.17B

Google
Market cap: 366.87B


55 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Castro City
on May 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Soooo no housing? Awesome. I guess the traffic relief will come when Google gets approval from one of our neighboring cities to build their beautiful new campus there. Housing problem solved. Way to go, Mountain View.


8 people like this
Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on May 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

LinkedIn was supposed to move into some newly built towers on Mathilda Ave near Maude in Sunnyvale, but perhaps they were holding out to see if they could gain a larger footprint in North Bayshore which seems to be the case after the council's decision. Sounds like the majority of the council wants to allow LinkedIn to grow in that area as Google has already done.

I agree that this decision should've been tied to the housing study since the two types of development affect the "too little space" that all of the stakeholders are fighting for.


7 people like this
Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Okay so LinkedIn wants to construct TEN building campus just off Highway 101. So that means that the Century 16 will be bulldozed for a Century 15 Theater complex. So we lose one screen.

So we will have a newly rebuilt Century Theater complex, completely remodeled. But the theater recently completed a $5 million remodel!!! Now each auditorium looks great, and we get to sit in lounge chairs---very roomy with lots of leg space. The whole complex looks much better.

Anyone finding out what the management has to say about the possibility of being torn down for a somewhat lengthy period, following the recent completed remodel?


57 people like this
Posted by glenn Meier
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Very short sighted on the part of the majority. I am very disappointed. Between Google and LinkedIn I would say Google is the most likely to survive in the long run. They picked a loser and will live to rue the day. Google will simply move their HQ to Sunnyvale and Mountain View will lose out on all the goodies that they have and could continue to provide.

I am extremely impressed with Lenny Siegel. I didn't vote for him but will the next time around. I am extremely disappointed in Kasperzak and would not even vote for him for Dog Catcher at this point. The majority lacks vision.


26 people like this
Posted by Solution
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I bet Google's board is meeting right now to discuss a possible acquisition of LinkedIn. Google would love to get access to their business data (identity and other), but the real estate has now become imperative for their strategy.


54 people like this
Posted by Justin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Seriously? A new gym and movie theater is better than a livable community and world-class bike network?


22 people like this
Posted by Google, the New Evil Empire
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Gee, look at all of these Google employees clogging up this discussion board here.

Don't they have actual *work* to do?


21 people like this
Posted by Um
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 4:03 pm

There were two votes..one to delay, one to build.
Lenny and Kenny voted correctly on both.
Shame on the majority.


66 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Linkedin plans to build a traditional square commercial development (including replacing a movie theater that was just remodeled), opposed housing, with a public benefits package of $40 million.

Google wanted to build a type office the world has never seen, open to the public. Yes, Google's plan called for expansive increases in square footage, but with a concrete plan to not increase traffic beyond the current number (no additional harm done). Google supports housing on their property. Not to mention Google has a long past record of public benefits in the amount of millions to our city's schools, along with the recent local shuttles, and offered a $200 million public benefits package that was would transformed biking in MV as well other things like over a $1 million college scholarships for MV kids, listed here Web Link

How does the region benefit by pushing Google to spread its future developments beyond its existing MV property? Does sprawl make it any easier for them to develop non-car based transit plans for their employees, does it make it easier for smaller companies to compete for office space against Google's future development demands that now must be filled outside of MV?

This isn't a criticism of Linkedin who is a business doing what businesses do, but Google has been a more generous neighbor.

Neither those who wanted the "Old MV" back or a "Future MV" win in this, the status quo won. And the status quo lacks vision.


32 people like this
Posted by JN
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Maybe the Council thought that LinkedIn's painfully bland proposal fits more with the "character" of North Bayshore's soulless 70's office park complexes.

On the bright side, at least Google employees who are residents will now have express bus lanes to whisk them out of Mountain View and into some other city that might actually want a world-renowned architectural landmark within its boundaries.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm

It's about time the City Council listened and reviewed what other business had to offer. This is fantastic news.
I hope the Council continues to reach out to other businesses in the future.


57 people like this
Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 6, 2015 at 4:39 pm

So we will get ten more regular office buildings? When we could have had a mixed development with housing, offices, bike trails and public parks.

Really strange that the council won't event wait for the housing study to deliver its report. How on earth are we better off building blindly, rather than investigating alternatives and consequences? Sure, the developers want a quick decision because they have "millions of dollars at risk", but that is their problem.

Good for Lenny Siegel and Ken Rosenberg to vote sensibly! I'm happy to say I voted for the latter.


62 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 6, 2015 at 5:25 pm

This is a tremendous setback to anyone concerned about the housing shortage and increasing rents and traffic.

Lenny Siegel did heroic work bringing the jobs-housing balance into the forefront of the debate. After all, that's the platform that he, Pat Showalter, and Ken Rosenberg were elected on.

Google offered to commit to tearing down some of its offices to build housing if City Council gave it 1.5 out of 2.2 million square feet of bonus FAR. Instead, Google was overlooked, seemingly punished for supporting of housing while others were rewarded for opposing it, even though City Council has stated its support for housing.

No consideration of community benefits.
No consideration of environmental benefits.
No consideration of transportation demand management.
No consideration of the vision of integrated mixed-use land (which might now include housing).

It seems to me that Council just approved a convenient parcel of land that happened to be about the amount of square footage they approved last year that wasn't just picked to be studied for housing last month.

So much for all the criteria outlined in the North Bayshore Precise Plan. Remember, this is the Precise Plan approved by the lame duck City Council in December 2014 after a landmark election swept by pro-housing candidates. Housing and sustainability advocates like me urged the city not to move forward with the Precise Plan until housing could be incorporated, but we were told the work in the Precise Plan was too valuable to shelve. I'm left scratching my head at the outcome last night.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think City Council just ran their own NBS housing study off the road. Google won't be able to replace its offices with housing if it doesn't have any other offices to put those employees. And as David Radcliffe said, Google owns all the land being studied for housing. So what does City Council expect is going to happen to the housing study they just approved last month?


32 people like this
Posted by Cyndi
a resident of The Crossings
on May 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I can't wait to vote John McAlister's out of office.


18 people like this
Posted by Doris
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 6, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Building, building, building...
There are too many people in Mountain View!
I'm opposed to a Google town. I'm happy to see some the council putting constraints in place!


20 people like this
Posted by Stunned
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 6:37 pm

So they compared this to a “Beauty Contest.”
The majority chose the ugliest, least talented contestant.
Way to go…More square buildings.
Yee Ha!


17 people like this
Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Google should build a huge bio-dome complex in Detroit. They really need the help. Do you think the affordable housing they were planning to build would really be affordable?!? I'm so glad to be leaving Mountain View and the Bay Area in July!


21 people like this
Posted by @Stunned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm

This isn't about a "Beauty Contest" this is about a making sure this isn't a ONE company town. Let the Googlers find some place else to take over.


59 people like this
Posted by Missed the trends
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm

An important trend that City Council seems to not understand is that these tech giants are all starting to build world-class, iconic homes for themselves. Apple is doing it with their spaceship-like design in Cupertino; Facebook has done it in Menlo Park. City Council has basically told Google they can't be a part of that trend, at least not in Mountain View.

Google now has no choice but to look elsewhere if they want to "stay modern", and no doubt they will. Frankly, this will be devastating for Mountain View. The relationship between this city and that company is complex, but overall extremely beneficial to the city. Google is working to fix the housing and transportation crises in a way no other company has even hinted at. They've helped power our shuttles, pay for our bike programs, and so much more.

This vote by City Council is not only a painful slap in the face to Google, but also to the community to which they belong.


14 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm

So what I'm hearing is no new housing in MV. Rise, $3k rents, rise!!!


17 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 6, 2015 at 7:12 pm

True is a registered user.

@Anon

Yup.

The council effectively just shot down the best opportunity to mitigate the soaring rent values in MV. The only way to do that is to add a large amount of inventory.

Instead, we'll get a smattering of expensive new apartment developments along ECR further clogging that artery...add to that the stupidity of BRT in concert with housing development and we have a trifecta of stupidity that negatively impacts the livability of MV regardless of ones socioeconomic status.


19 people like this
Posted by Ken
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm

I'm sure everyone who voted against Google in this vote will love how much less their homes will be worth when Google leaves MV. Seems very short sighted and I'm completely underwhelmed by this council.


57 people like this
Posted by JN
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Ken, those who are reveling in the Google plan getting torpedoed care little about their home losing value. Most of them are already sitting on a 1000% appreciation of their home and are likely planning on dying in it in order to avoid a tax on the gain. Other than suffering the affliction of having to scheme around a tax hit on a $1 million real estate gain, they must also endure other hardships such as having to wait at traffic lights behind driverless cars or worrying about their favorite greasy spoon restaurant being replaced by new apartment complexes. They are so lathered up in their own schadenfreude that they can't grasp the impact this vote will have on the rest of us who are either struggling to pay skyrocketing rents or are worried about going upside down on a jumbo mortgage on homes these folks bought for $75,000. As someone who grew up in the Rust Belt and saw first hand the devastation inflicted by a major employer leaving town, it is almost nauseating to watch the sadistic glee they get out of thumbing their nose at one of the world's leading companies who is actually bending over backwards to be a good corporate citizen of this community.


29 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I would be okay with Google moving out. I'm not planning on moving or selling my home and I'm not dependent on them for any services.
Less traffic in my neighborhood sounds good to me.
If you lived in my area (maybe you do) you see very little benefit if any that Google brings by having its HQ here.
The city council has bent over backwards to please Google and its employees for years and really has not listened to a segment of its population that is turned upside down every morning and every evening.
It was refreshing to hear that they voted in favor of another business plan other than Googles


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

@Resident

Sounds like classic NIMBYism. These jobs have to be located *somewhere*. I take it you just want to hoist them on "the poors".


13 people like this
Posted by I like the LinkedIn Plan
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm

The LinkedIn plan offers substantial community benefits including a 20 million dollar ped-bike bridge over 101. Also, they are building a real public-private neighborhood with retail, theater, retail. It sounds to be a very vibrant use with a lot of thinking about how to integrate office life with community life. The real estate managers there worked hard to piece together this vision.

I found the Google plan impressive and innovative, but didn't see how it could help build community. The plan was developed by Starchitects enamored with their own work but not thinking about public life.

Congrats LinkedIn! Looking forward to seeing the the plans develop!


33 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm

I will be the only who says this, but I think we should allow both LinkedIn and Google to build their new campuses in MV. The benefits in terms of continued job growth, tourism, diversity of employers, benefits for the city (new parks, library, bike paths, etc.), new housing on Google land... are worth some incremental traffic on 101, which is already impassable anyway. These companies will find innovative ways to solve the traffic issues when their employees can't get to work.


6 people like this
Posted by take the hint
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Google needs to listen to this strong message from the city and take their money elsewhere. There is plenty of room in Sunnyvale or Redwood City for their money. Weren't they thinking of running ferries from the East Bay into Redwood City anyway? Convert their old buildings into affordable housing, like George Lucas is doing in Marin.


25 people like this
Posted by Save the burrowing owls!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 8:54 pm

The mountain view city council basically just told their really REALLY hot girlfriend (like the 46th hottest girlfriend in the world) that they wanted to date someone who at very best could be described as cute for a smart girl.


5 people like this
Posted by N
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

@take the hint

And why should RWC be responsible for your Googlers?


18 people like this
Posted by Wow!
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 6, 2015 at 11:15 pm

I have to say I am disappointed. I was looking forward very much to
bicycling with my family all over the new North Bayshore, especially
the cool new Google campus.

I hope very much that some new bike trails get built anyways in North
Bayshore but I am less hopeful now.


10 people like this
Posted by Anna
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 6, 2015 at 11:19 pm

So sad to see this decision! There does not seem be be any good reasoning for it either.


13 people like this
Posted by For the best...
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 6, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Google wants to do-no-evil, yet they want to monopolize every large commericial office space in Mountain Vjew. Monopolies are evil.


13 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 6, 2015 at 11:56 pm

True is a registered user.

@takethehint

Lucas is converting his property to low-income housing out of spite for Marin Co. residents who blocked his plans to expand his facilities.

Essentially saying, "You don't want more of my employees who live, work and spend money (of which they have lots) in Marin? Let's see how ya like a bunch of section-8 housing instead."


24 people like this
Posted by MV Mama
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 7, 2015 at 12:10 am

Mountain View existed and thrived before Google, and it will continue to exist and thrive if Google ever decides to move out. Someone else will move in. Remember when Moffett closed? Or Adobe pulled out? Or when SGI went belly up? We all survived.


30 people like this
Posted by Justin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 7, 2015 at 12:19 am

@MV Mama
Of course Mountain View will thrive with or without Google. But Google's proposal was far more open, innovative, and progressive than what LinkedIn wants (another boring suburban office park). The buildings alone were above and beyond anything any company in the world has done, add onto that funding (and space) for housing and a comprehensive bike network and I don't see how you can reject it.


52 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 7, 2015 at 12:33 am

True is a registered user.

I grew up in this valley and have lived all over the country before moving back in 2000. One of the great failings of this area is our utter lack of creative, innovative or even generally good looking architecture. SF has the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower and little else. The South Bay's most architecturally interesting structures are Hangar 1 (built in 1933) and a pedestrian footbridge over 280 near Wolf Rd.

Apple is soon to change this landscape, though I fear from the outside, at ground level, it'll look something like a rounded off version of The Pentagon but we shall see.

Mountain View has this, and only this, opportunity to be the home to something lasting, innovative, creative and beautiful. To create not just for the area, but for the world, a touchstone for the confluence of art, science, sustainability, and utility and all while creating a place where Mountain View residents can recreate and live as well.

Combining sustainable and beautiful commercial structures that offer public spaces with housing and infrastructure in the North Bayshore area MUST happen. The undeniable answer to Mountain View's soaring real estate prices is to increase inventory. The best place to put that inventory is close to where it's residents will work and close to major freeways, not along El Camino further clogging that already overloaded artery (and don't get me started on that insane VTA BRT boondoggle).

Google & Linkedin and other N. Bayshore companies have already done great things in terms of mitigating the traffic impact of their employees. Each of those buses (that so many non-thinking people like to complain about) takes 60-65 cars off the road and saves untold gallons of fuel & emissions. All privately funded and all to the benefit of you & I.

By putting a percentage of those companies’ workforces within walking distance of their office space they will further alleviate the traffic impact on the S. Bay and reduce the need for vast expanses of paved parking areas around the commercial buildings. To say nothing of the positive impact on rental prices when a huge amount of inventory is added to Mountain View.

The list of who is able to do something like this can be tallied on one hand. If Mountain View blows this opportunity, there will not be another and we'll be left, both literally and figuratively with a bunch of old, inefficient, 80's era commercial buildings....and nobody to occupy them. Those companies ARE going to continue to grow.

The question for our City Council is where? I for one enjoy the impact that Google has had on Mountain View. Our now vibrant downtown, the immense cultural diversity, the direct and indirect (services & related startups) job growth, the Millions donated to our schools the list goes on and on.

I'm glad that the Council supported Linkedin's plan, but it's not enough. Not visionary enough. Mountain View needs to green-light Google's plan as well. In doing so they'd have the opportunity to be a part of the solution as opposed to being a part of the problem as they have for so long been.


21 people like this
Posted by False
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 7, 2015 at 12:43 am

Answer to soaring housing prices is to increase inventory???

How much inventory over what time period would needed to be added to Mountain View in order to drop annual rent increases to single digits.

If an answer to this simple question is not given, then you must be a developer shill or have some profit motive. Now, answer the question!


28 people like this
Posted by Bee
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 7, 2015 at 6:45 am

What a breathtakingly brainless outcome.

Our #1 problem is traffic, and our so-called civic leaders have locked it in for decades by kicking in the teeth of the only company that was actively working with us to solve it.

Way to go, Council.


22 people like this
Posted by Ex-Mountainviewer
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2015 at 7:30 am

And in other news up here in Seattle, Facebook just signed office space for 2000 new employees (where I'll be able to bike to work in under 10 minutes entirely on a world-class protected bike lane being built here next year, from one of several relatively livable mixed use urban centers, with thousands of new mid-rise apartments being built every year within walking distance)

I had never imagined moving back to Mountain View - paying a fortune to live in crappy housing, and a suburban lifestyle with 1990s bike lanes - until seeing Google's transformative proposal that would have built a complete, Davis CA-style network of bike infrastructure - and realizing what a great place it would become.

I never understood why in a city dominated by renters, the home owning minority's interests are the ones being best represented by city council.

But lucky for you older commenters, now there's no reason for consider moving back. I can just continue flying down to California once a month for work.


6 people like this
Posted by The regretters always return
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 7, 2015 at 7:46 am

Yes, Seattle is nice too. I personally would never live there though, no way ever. I guess not everyone values the same things. Now, I could rail about the problems of Seattle, but that would make me look jealous and petty. Ya know? Thank you for still spending your money here once a month though. we're gla to take your money via taxes. Come back anytime with your money.


20 people like this
Posted by Gardener
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 7, 2015 at 8:06 am

Gardener is a registered user.

Overall a pretty sad decision by the out-of-touch members of the City Council. Pay attention to the final vote. The Council members who were just elected with a mandate to provide residents with relief from the rising cost of housing (Lenny Siegel, Pat Showalter, and Ken Rosenberg) all voted against this plan. It's the old guard, who helped create the problem in the first place, that continues their myopathy.


15 people like this
Posted by awake
a resident of North Whisman
on May 7, 2015 at 8:17 am

Meanwhile, shares in LinkedIn just dropped 20%.


20 people like this
Posted by The Running Man
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 7, 2015 at 8:37 am

Lately, I've been running by the Google and LinkedIn headquarters on my Sunday early morning long runs. I have to admit, I appreciate the peace and quiet as I run along the Stevens Creek Trail and the empty streets by the North Bayshore office complexes. I can't imagine a lot of residential buildings on the other side of 101. One immediate thought is where the children would be attending our already overcrowded schools. I was really looking forward to an impressive display of architecture with Google's HQ plans. Now it looks like a bunch of boring LinkedIn office complexes. A commenter also already made the following note: LNKD Market Cap $25B, GOOG Market Cap $365B. Which company truly has the deep pockets to create something amazing?


25 people like this
Posted by They can
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 7, 2015 at 11:27 am

Google can press ahead with their project by simply converting some of their existing office space (which is the old, boring office parks, right?) into this new pie-in-the-sky dream campus.

I mean, any company who would give MV free wifi is up to the challenge, right??? Oops.


16 people like this
Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on May 7, 2015 at 11:57 am

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

For an interesting exercise in compare-and-contrast, see this video from when Steve Jobs went to the Cupertino City Council early in the process to present plans for their proposed new HQ in Cupertino, on June 7th 2011: Web Link

You may find the references to Mountain View (around 11:20) and Free WiFi (after 13:00) especially interesting.


5 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2015 at 11:59 am

Think the whole area should be replanned with offices, residential and retail instead a bit here and there over a period of time. Bike routes, infrastructure improvements and open space links can be planned, funded and built.

Manage the pace of growth instead of picking one over the other.


13 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm

I can understand the idea that Google is taking over the town but this was a chance to have a land mark facility built in Mountain View so it's a bad decision to limit Google at this point in time and for the new headquarters.

I think Google should work with LinkedIn to offer them some other Google site or sites in Mountain View in exchange so that Google can go ahead with the new facility, they might have to come up with a little money.

Google should not give up at this time they can find a way, I wish I could help.


32 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Given the last two important votes by this idiot council - to narrow El camino and push traffic into the side streets, and now to deny Google, a company dedicated to taking us into the future, who has supported this city in many ways, and support Linkedin which is just a warehouse for out of date resumes and provides nothing of interest for our future.

Two really inane decisions.

It is time this council was replaced. Can we really trust them with another four years of such shortsighted behavior?


11 people like this
Posted by Goliath lost
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

"so members from team Google, who seemed shell-shocked after seeing their proposal for a dramatic glass-canopied office park scuttled by the council majority on a 4-3 vote. "

Poor google, can't copy Apples design for a space ship center. Ha haa ha

Good for MT. View, now google can't turn Mt. View into a bike only town.

Housing will never be affordable here in Mt. View while we have big companies here in such a small peninsula. I hear Modesto is waiting for Google to move there, well now they can go and build there space ship there.


11 people like this
Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 7, 2015 at 9:57 pm

I'd be down with a housing community of MINI houses. Let's start that movement here.


11 people like this
Posted by Random243657
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2015 at 12:39 am

Well this is a great opportunity for another State to take Google to the next level! A State or States with a highly skilled work force and who will welcome this amazing company! Personally they should move out of crowded urban area. They need a nice a place where theey can expand there operations. Nebraska and Iowa are the best suitors for this. Let's not forget Omaha has 400,000 residents 5 Fortune 500 companies already call it home. Also we have Low cost of living, low taxes , abundant water sources and a bike friendly city! We would be more then happy to get this great company a new home. Plenty of building space and room to grow!


24 people like this
Posted by Missed the trends
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 8, 2015 at 10:36 am

I'm wondering if there's any recourse here, any way to formally have council reconsider this decision? It is too important of an issue to be decided by a midnight 4-3 vote by a very tired Council.


3 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Wjy not go back to Google and let them plan and build their new offices. For every square foot of office space planned Google must come up with a percentage of housing square footage.

Housing space benefits for new office space.

Developer built or company built or donated funds, heck all 3 will get your buildings up.


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Look, not everyone liked Googles plans, period.
Other people commute to their jobs each day and don't expect to have their employers build housing for them. It's silly to think so.
We struggle to live in this area as well, but we don't expect our employers or the City council to find housing opportunities for us. You need to find a job and housing that suits you and your budget.
Just because you want things a certain way doesn't mean you are always going to get it. Move on!


5 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Wonder how this will affect the school board's assertion that there is a "need" for a ninth school that we can't afford in the Whisman area to handle the fictional housing that was going to go in over 101?


16 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Why is it no one ever cares to comment on the 400,000+ weekday riders on BART? People don't always live in the same town they work in. Why is this such a foreign concept?


30 people like this
Posted by MV Libertarian
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 8, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Given the erratic performance of the current city council, it would be useful if council procedures were revised to require that a measure which passes by only a 1-vote margin be subject to a confirmation vote at the next scheduled meeting. This would possibly save the residents and businesses in MV from the effect of council decisions made in haste and lack of information by providing an opportunity for additional public or applicant input, possible revision or compromise, and development of more consensus on a decision. The rushed and troublesome decisions on dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes and North Bayshore bonus FAR allocations at the 4/21 and 5/2 council meetings, respectively, are two examples of significant issues where this change might have helped.

In the council’s BRT decision, we had two neophyte council members (Showalter and Rosenberg) suddenly reverse their long stated campaign positions on the matter with no advance notice and for very dubious stated rationale at a meeting at which two council members had already recused themselves. The result of this vote, which was joined in by 4-term council member Kasperzak, is additional support to VTA’s expensive and wasteful proposal to close down one lane in each direction of El Camino Real for BRT which will have major adverse impacts to the residents of Mountain View and the neighboring cities of Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Palo Alto. Despite extensive public opposition voiced in newspapers, online, and in oral communication by the public at subsequent meetings, none of council members have shown any willingness to readdress this divisive vote.

At the 5/5/2015 meeting, the council rushed to allocating all available new office space allowed under the current North Bayshore precise plan to a few projects after having re-opened the precise plan to possible revision for addition of housing. Under a proposal sprung by Mayor McAlister and adopted at the meeting that appears largely motivated by the stated tenuous nature of the deal that LinkedIn had forged cobbled together for the Shoreline Commons project, a much more innovative proposal from Google with superior public benefits has been thrown into limbo at the mercy of revision of the precise plan and additional environmental review, while some rather pedestrian proposals which offered no on-site housing that the council presumably was seeking, have been given a green light to proceed with their submissions.

Given the obvious back room lobbying and the dubious decisions being rushed into, it’s high time for the council to take a more deliberate, transparent and representative approach to their decisions.


7 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

Replying to some comments with some information.

"False" asked, "How much inventory over what time period would needed to be added to Mountain View in order to drop annual rent increases to single digits. If an answer to this simple question is not given, then you must be a developer shill or have some profit motive. Now, answer the question!"

I'm happy to provide you with the evidence if you are open-minded enough to consider it. This article provides examples from Washington DC, Austin, and Chicago to answer the question, "When has housing supply ever kept rents down?"
Web Link

"They can" wrote, "Google can press ahead with their project by simply converting some of their existing office space (which is the old, boring office parks, right?) into this new pie-in-the-sky dream campus."

Actually, the city of Mountain View sets zoning laws that restrict the floor area ratio (FAR) that a property owner is allowed to occupy with buildings on their property. Google would love to convert their existing office space to these new buildings, but the new buildings are larger in terms of square footage/FAR, so they require approval from City Council. On Tuesday, City Council granted rights to build a lot of square footage to land owned by LinkedIn and comparatively little to land owned by Google.


13 people like this
Posted by Tired of Traffic
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 8, 2015 at 10:14 pm

CAN NOT believe this council totally ignored the big expensive traffic impact study they had done in 2013! They refuse to add infrastructure AND think if our high tech neighbors hit the magical 45% SOV rate that key intersections will no longer be crippled with intense commuter traffic. Newsflash council.. at the rate that LinkedIn and Google are hiring, your strategy will be a BIG FAIL.

It seems SO crazy to approve the one plan (LinkedIn) that has the MOST potential to cripple the Shoreline corridor traffic even MORE. It doesn't take a traffic scientist to see that the LinkedIn site plan invites a volume of lefts at Pear and Plymouth. This is SURE to clog the Shoreline/La Avenida intersection for the next 5-10yrs.

Thanks council for making so many Mtn View residents' commute even more miserable because they will continue to sit in traffic on Shoreline, Rengstorff, Moffet and San Antonio just to get to 101 and travel to our non-LinkedIn / non-Google jobs.


13 people like this
Posted by MV Libertarian
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 9, 2015 at 3:25 am

For those who did not have the pleasure of attending the 6-1/2 hour city council meeting on 5/5/2015, below is a link to the video and the timeline for the discussion of item 6.1, North Bayshore Precise Plan Bonus Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Applications. Of particular interest are:

(1) the presentations by Google at 1:07:15 and 6:03:50 and
(2) the embarrassing, blatant attempt by Mayor McAlister at 5:21:50 to extract a $1.5M payment for community benefits from another applicant in order to move their project forward.

Mountain View City Council Meeting, 5/5/2015
Item 6.1, North Bayshore Precise Plan Bonus Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Applications

Web Link

0:35:54 Start Item 6.1
0:37:25 Staff Presentation
0:56:10 Presentation by Applicant #1— Broadreach Capital Partners
1:07:15 Presentation by Applicant #2— Google, Inc.
1:31:00 Presentation by Applicant #3— Linkedln/Sywest Development
Note: No presentation by Applicant #4 — Peery Arrillaga
2:11:50 Presentation by Applicant #5— Rees Properties
2:27:20 Presentation by Applicant #6 — Shashi Group (Hotel)
2:45:00 Presentation by Applicant #7 — The Sobrato Organization
3:01:00 Public Comment
3:59:00 Begin Council Deliberation
5:21:50 McAlister suggests Shashi Group provide $1.5M as community benefit for hotel project
5:28:50 McAlister proposes motion for Broadreach, Google (1 out of 4 sites), Linkedln, Rees
5:32:40 Siegel proposes substitute motion to delay decision (defeated 3-4 at 5:57:00)
6:03:50 Google weighs in with council on the evaluation process and impacts to their proposal
6:16:10 Vote on McAlister motion (approved 4-3*)
6:18:30 End Item 6.1

* For (4): McAlister, Clark, Kasperzak, Inks
Against (3): Siegel, Showalter, Rosenberg


10 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 9, 2015 at 6:25 am

Do large items not get discussed twice in the city council?
On the our local K-8 school board, except for closed meeting items, all big issues typically get a first reading and then a second for the very purpose of letting the public know and inform the its representatives.

Something like this should get two passes if it doesn't already, which this article sounds like it isnt. Especially such a late night narrow vote. Elected officials are human, on-going learners, and can, and should, change their mind if convinced by new information. It's happened to me on the school board that the community changes my mind between a first and second reading.

What's the inconvenience of a second vote compared to the long term impact that vote may have on the city. Refusal to revisit a vote (even if to just vote the same way and explain more to the public) is not an act in public integrity, but rather bullheadedness.


5 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2015 at 7:10 am

All projects should have been allowed to move forward and more planning is on the way. The whole North Bayshore area should be planned as a whole so transportation can be planned and set in place before too many people call this their office.

Plan for housing here, there or anywhere but make sure transit alternatives are ready to be set in place.

The whole Silicon Valley leads the nation in job growtg, we have produced thousands of jobs with no thought given to housing or.transportation. Earlier someone mentioned about the 400,000 plus BART riders in which they don't care about this thread. The riders are more worried about getting to work without having delays, breakdowns or many disruptions on a overcrowded aging system.

Many commuters dread BART breakdowns because when they do have one it affects everyone and those driving into the MV area.

Transportation in the bay area is north south but east west not so great.


7 people like this
Posted by &Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 9, 2015 at 11:54 am

Your response to False was very misleading. False asked for someone to state how many housing units would need to be added to Mountain View in order to keep rent increases single-digit on an annual basis. Your response was a blog entry that purported to answer this question by providing examples from around the country.

So, leaving aside the problem that you failed to answer the question with a number, I wonder whether you actually read and blog article in depth?

For example, the blog states that Austin rent prices have stabilized since some 20,000 new apartment units were built. The citation for this assertion was a link to a Austin newspaper article. The article costs money to read the whole thing but what is visible actually states that Austin is "poised" to have rent relief. In other words, the author is projecting that rents will stabilize. That doesn't show anything.

I looked further and found that there are rental statistics available for Austin that shows continual average rent increases. In other words, it appears that while people EXPECT rents to stabilize if tens of thousands of units are created, in actuality this does not happen. It appears that DEMAND is the driving factor and not SUPPLY.

Given this, I do not think we should build up merely to address perceived supply problems. The economy will drive the demand up and down and we cannot control nor predict that. We should build to preserve and improve the quality of our public living spaces with the focus on community.


3 people like this
Posted by Correction
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

@MV Libertarian

There were two votes. The first was a vote to delay the Bonus FAR projects until about January'16 so that the preliminary housing environmental impact study could be included. The thinking was that we'd know more about the impacts to traffic when we include housing in the calculation. That failed (3-4) with Siegel, Showalter and Rosenberg being the only YES votes.

Then later, after the square footage square dance routine commenced, with arbitrary reshuffling of "this project gets this many square feet, and that one gets that many square feet", there was a second vote. That one passed with Siegel, Rosenberg and Clark (not Showalter) being the dissenting votes.


9 people like this
Posted by MN Libertarian
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm

@Correction

Thanks for the correction. I had assumed that Ms Showalter’s vote on the McAlister motion was consistent with her earlier vote on the Siegel motion to delay the decision. The good mayor typically only flashes up the voting sheet for a millisecond at a meeting lest someone in the audience have an opportunity to study it.

From observing Ms Showalter’s erratic performance in multiple meetings since taking office in January, she’s clearly not up to the job and it’s frightening to think she is in line for mayor next year.

I note that the vote was correctly reported in the full article which I had overlooked:

“Siegel offered a counter motion to delay any decision until next year. But the proposal ultimately lost in a 3-4 vote, with only council members Pat Showalter and Ken Rosenberg voting in favor of it.”

. . .

“The city approved McAlister's motion in a 4-3 vote, with Clark, Siegel and Rosenberg opposed.”


3 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Mountain View is just another city in the bay area which had produced a number of jobs for a good decade but hasn't produced nearly the amount of housing to match jobs.

Mountain View should not try or even attempt such a huge taske. As I read thep article it mentions Metro areas, the bay area area as a whole hasn't kept pace.


3 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Solomon or Pontius Pilate?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Monta Loma

on Mar 12, 2017 at 9:19 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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