News

Google relents on bid for more offices in North Bayshore

Company pledges commitment to 9,850-unit housing goal in Mountain View

If Mountain View's tense standoff with Google over North Bayshore last week was like a game of chicken, it was Google that swerved.

Google officials are now backpedaling on demands for more office space as a condition for building 9,850 new housing units in North Bayshore. In a contrite letter sent Monday afternoon to the Mountain View City Council, the company's real estate team apologized for comments made last Tuesday, Sept. 26, that were widely interpreted as an ultimatum demanding an additional 800,000 square feet of office development rights.

In the letter, David Radcliffe, Google's vice president of real estate, emphasized that his team was wholeheartedly on board for seeing housing built near the company's North Bayshore headquarters.

“During the Council's study session, we voiced the idea that adding office space could be a way to offset housing costs. We apologize that this came out as a demand, when the intent was to open a conversation to address a potential issue,” he wrote.

The company's tone was very different one week ago as a grueling City Council study session on the North Bayshore precise plan stretched past midnight and into the early morning hours. At the time, council members were pitching a series of new demands for the company's future housing development, including calls for union hiring, environmental monitoring, ownership housing and up to 40 percent of new apartments to priced as affordable.

As the night wore on and the list of potential public concessions grew, Google's lead representative, Senior Design Director Joe Van Belleghem, broke decorum and spoke bluntly. There would be no housing built by Google, he said, unless the city agreed to allocate 800,000 square feet of additional office space.

“Just to be clear: no new office, no new residential," Van Belleghem told the council. "We've been very clear all along that we needed this extra office space to make this work."

But council members didn't budge, and they declined to consider any additional office development rights. It was a harrowing end for the meeting, leaving housing advocates concerned that plans for residential growth were now in limbo.

Google officials apparently did an about-face over the last few days. A Google spokeswoman said the company received some pressure from its own employees in recent days, highlighting the severe need for housing.

“We remain unequivocally committed to (North Bayshore housing) and strongly support the creation of the full 9,850 new housing units,” Radcliffe wrote to the council.

Comments

20 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2017 at 12:13 am

Their latest language is softer, but I still don't trust Google not to bring this up again. If they have any decency, they will let this "potential issue" disappear. We'll see. MV City Council - hold your ground.


2 people like this
Posted by Office space
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2017 at 2:29 am

Google has no choice but to bring this up again because they say they include it in their own evaluation of transportation demand management and trip cap. They claimed they would only ask for added square feet if their first 3 developments from no succeed in staying way below the trip cap and have excellent TDM profiles. It will be quite amazing if they do this, so of course they can always ask for some reward if they achive a better than required performance by a significant amount. The question is, can they really do this? They also have other projects pending already beyond the first 3, namely the former Linked IN large mixed use project with SyWest and another residential project. The numbers won't be in yet about the transit loading from these projects when they will be
wanting to claim victory.


13 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:01 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

"A Google spokewoman said the company received some pressure from their own employees in recent days, highlighting the severe need for housing." Googlers keep it up! Time for workers to realize that when salaries don't keep up with housing costs, and their companies report record profits, all the while buying more land to build more offices for more employees and more profits, then they are essentially subsidizing shareholders.


12 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm

"they are essentially subsidizing shareholders."

Well said, @Christopher Chiang. I made the same point the other day when a report circulated saying it would cost California $26 billion to build enough housing just for the people who are already here, let alone for the millions more the tech companies want to cram into our overcrowded state. That puts a number on how much we are subsidizing Big Tech profits.


6 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

@Anke

Cost California or cost developers and land owners who buy and pay for that housing to get built?

I wonder how much it's costing California to subsidize the property tax of everyone like Anke who are busy trying to drive out tech and slow the economy down, all in the pursuit of maintaining the "suburban neighborhood character" of cities in the Bay Area.


15 people like this
Posted by Robert Evans
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm

A leopard never changes it's spots. It will wait until the time is most advantageous and jump then. More than likely when the prey has no way to back out. Any feral cat will purr when it really needs food.


6 people like this
Posted by Michael G
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:11 pm

This is good to see. Can't understand what Google was thinking when Google is already talking about expanding in Central SJ which has a glut of office space, has transit and is getting more. Why expand in MV when it is already so crowded? MV already has 2 jobs for every resident worker. Only Palo Alto is worse. Checkout Web Link for the details

Asking for more MV office space makes no sense when Central SJ has 1.5 million sq. ft. and North SJ has 3.7 million sq. ft. of office space (total 5.2M!!) available right now! And Santa Clara has another 3M - see:
Web Link
(near the bottom)


Like this comment
Posted by MVFlyer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Or Google got an agreement from another city to build the 800K sq ft of offices, so they don't need it in MV.


2 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2017 at 4:21 pm

@Christopher Chang- are you suggesting that Googlers are underpaid and therefore subsidizing the shareholders? If so, I’m scratching my head on this one. Googlers and their other highly paid tech cohorts, are the ones that have driven up the housing prices so high. They’re the only ones that can afford to buy here.


8 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Lets move some of these jobs to Modesto, Stockton, Bakersfield where young workers can afford to buy a house. Did you know that a lot of people who work for Google work really for subcontractors? They make about $22-25 an hour no benefits, like healthcare and vacation pay. How are these people supposed to get ahead in this expensive area. DO NO EVIL!! HA!


4 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 3, 2017 at 5:02 pm

@Huh? you're absolutely right that the population explosion caused primarily by the massive influx of techies in recent years is the cause of both the jobs-housing imbalance and the housing unaffordability crisis (not to mention traffic etc). But it's reached the point where even 6-figure techies are utterly unable to purchase a home and in fact are doing careful budgeting to make ends meet. So yeah, in that sense they are doing some of the subsidizing that the rest of us have been doing for years now.


3 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2017 at 6:25 pm

@Anke- they may not be able to afford the house they want but the local techies are very well paid. If corporate raised their salaries it would just make the situation worse because they'd have more money to throw at their competing house buyers, driving the prices up even further. I'm in real estate so I know. Until we reach a saturation point - that is until there aren't enough people that can afford the high prices- the situation will continue to get worse. The solution is for city governments to stop allowing the corporate expansion that is crowding our towns and roads unmercifully and creating a continuos housing shortage.


4 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:14 pm

"The solution is for city governments to stop allowing the corporate expansion that is crowding our towns and roads unmercifully and creating a continuos housing shortage."

Precisely. This cannot be overstated. To solve a problem, reverse the thing that caused it; very simple. But the people in charge seem to want to tackle one imbalance by adding another.


5 people like this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Alex M is a registered user.

I don't understand why Google can't just open a new campus somewhere else. Their current campus is so sprawled out now, employees I know there rarely visit distant buildings anyway. If they want more office space, let them built the office space in a locality that needs more employment, and let the land here be used to make up for the lack of residences that cause the prices to be so high.


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2017 at 2:19 am

@Alex

Do you think that there are localities with unemployed engineers just sitting around and waiting for Google to open an office there and give them a job?


4 people like this
Posted by Remote offices
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2017 at 5:38 am

Product teams that are spread out geographically simply do not work. Or rather, they work, but just not as effectively as a team co-located. Companies that split up their teams geographically end up getting destroyed by their competitors that adopt a centralized office model. It's not a co-incidence that the cutting edge campus designs are a single building! (Facebook, Apple)


8 people like this
Posted by Gina Thelen
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 4, 2017 at 7:31 am

I dislike the confrontational tone that the mv-voice is taking with this. It is not a game of chicken.

Google is Mountain View, and Mountain View is Goggle. So many people have both roles, citizen and employee that to fight with Google is to fight with ourselves. We need to figure out how to make this work, that should be what all of us concentrate on.

The alternative is that our neighbors have to commute out of our city, creating more traffic,less free time for community service and more stress. We'd lose a strong partner in creating more housing that is desperately needed. That would not be a benefit.


7 people like this
Posted by ACD
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Google building a new campus in somewhere far isn't that simple. A husband works for Google and wife works for FB/Apple. If Google moves to GA, would the husband move to GA? No, he will join FB/Apple. It's chicken-egg problem. Companies are in the valley because engineers are in the valley and the engineers are in the valley because companies are in the valley...


4 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 4, 2017 at 2:33 pm

"Companies are in the valley because engineers are in the valley "

If that's the case, why do they keep bringing in outsiders from far away by the tens and hundreds of thousands and clamoring for more H-1B's? If they were hiring locals, we wouldn't have the imbalance.


3 people like this
Posted by Irina
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 4, 2017 at 3:11 pm

"If that's the case, why do they keep bringing in outsiders from far away by the tens and hundreds of thousands and clamoring for more H-1B's? If they were hiring locals, we wouldn't have the imbalance."

Because outsiders view Silicon Valley through rose-colored glasses. They are not yet worn out by the high COL and sitting in traffic for hours on end.

There is also a finite supply of local engineers under the age of 35. Having Google/Apple/FB, etc. on one's resume can be a significant boost professionally. Tech companies know this, and leverage it to hire anyone they want.

At the same time, mid-career level professionals who have already been here a while may find their skills in demand elsewhere, with a better work/life balance.

Web Link

And so continues the revolving door of temporary residents.




5 people like this
Posted by No TECHFAN
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm

When will Google and other large techs finally become good neighbors? What exactly are the benefits of having Google, Facebook and Apple in close proximity?

They don't pay tax here
They are the main culprits of ever escalating home prices
They provide a private transit system - their own buses - for their own employees, but no one else
They provide meals and services on site, driving businesses in their neighborhoods into the abyss

Alphabet removed the original Google motto "Don't be evil". It seems obvious why...



4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2017 at 8:03 pm

@noTECHFAN

The culprit for high housing costs is home owner groups lobbying against any new housing from being built.

You guys complain about all the traffic tech causes around here and then complain about the tech shuttled in the same breath. Unbelievable.

Any other company providing free food to their employees would be looked upon as benevolent, but when Google does it it's hurting the community. OK.


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