Surely Google adds to the local economy. Assuming we don't want to exile Google from Mountain View, the City Council should embrace the economic boom in North Bayshore. City policies should aim to improve traffic near Highway 101, retain a green, tree-filled ambiance and improve walkability.
To reduce traffic near Hwy. 101 at Google rush hour, the simplest solution would be to encourage more Googlers to live within walking or biking distance of Google. That means permitting at least as much residential development north of 101 as commercial development. A lot of Googlers would love to live closer to work and not use cars for their commute, but that is simply not an option today. We just don't have the land to house everyone who may like to live in North Bayshore in the sort of two-story houses that the city likes to permit. Plus, that would require paving over a lot of the trees and green spaces that make the area pleasant. Simple math suggests that to retain green spaces while increasing housing you have to build up.
I'd much prefer a multi-story residential building next to a park over a dense highly-paved development of two-story condos. Yet, Mountain View seems staunchly opposed to building higher.
Higher density housing is also the key to walkability. For a restaurant to subsist on clientele who mostly walk in, the nearby housing density needs to be high. And again, high housing density without losing all our lovely trees means building up rather than filling in the city's green spaces with low buildings.
The city seems to be struggling to define what it wants to be and how to gracefully accept and integrate the economic boom within its limits, and the people most hurt by this identity crisis are those least able to pay for an individual fix. As long as the city continues to oppose vertical development in proximity to employers in North Bayshore and restaurant clusters like Castro Street, the city will continue to escalate housing prices, squeeze out its least-wealthy residents, limit walkability and retain traffic congestion.
This story contains 453 words.
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