Google and Mountain View – the background to the dance

Most commentators on Hacker News had incomplete / wrong information.

Here is some basic background to help set the context.

  1. Google until recently basically ignored Mountain View south of 101. Until recently Google didn’t own anything south of 101.
  2. Google is not going anywhere. Mountain View is right next to Moffett Air field. This is where Larry and Sergey park their 767 ( http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/11/googles-3-top-executives-have-8-private-jets/ ) – Maybe Sunnyvale would be an alternative but I really doubt there are too many spots where L and S can be in walking distance of their 767. Furthermore Google is leasing a shit ass land from NASA to expand on.
  3. Its not just Google: Google, LinkedIn, Intuit, Symantec, all have HQs here. Microsoft/Nokia also have their research centers here.
  4. Google, et.al. subsides all services at their HQ as a result outside retail/restaurants have pretty much died north of 101. This results in local business owners/voters complaining to city council.
  5. Google woke up to the political problem when MV CC told Google that they were not going to be allowed build a connection bridge across Stevens Creek Trail for buses. ( a trail that MV residents worked 25 years to create )
  6. Google land purchases have resulted in increases in real-estate taxes, however Google generates NO sales tax revenue for the city. (same problem with the other companies)
  7. Land in North Bayshore has gotten so expensive that there is serious talk about putting a building on top of the VTA North County Maintenance Yard.
  8. Mountain View renters have seen Y/Y increases of about 20-25%. A 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment goes for $3300.
  9. The city planners have gotten so many building requests that the city has no staff to deal with the requests.
  10. The school districts have real problems keeping teachers – turnover for some schools runs 6-10%.
  11. Non-tech workers are being forced out – you know people like teachers, waiters, security guards. The MV Building inspectors have found entire families living in a single room ( http://mv-voice.com/news/2013/07/26/high-cost-housing-creates-desperate-living-conditions )
  12. The 3 new city council members are all pro-housing. The anti-housing candidates were rejected. Therefore comments along the lines of : stop whining and do something – well the new city council is doing something. Specifically, demanding that more housing gets built and less office space. We are trying to make room for the new people. In many cases these are our children.
  13. Google to its credit is starting to throw some money at Mountain View Capital Improvement Project list to help out.
  14. Google, Mountain View are working out a traffic management plan to reduce solo drivers – the whole of north bayshore is only accessible by 3 roads. Residents who live in north bayshore right now cannot get to/from their house between 8:30 and 10 and 4:30 and 6.
  15. Google is trying to be innovative and more inclusive with the city as a whole.

It would be excellent if more companies really improved the cities and communities they are in. Too often cities are place to mine for tax breaks and income.

There is more Google HW conversation at KQED.

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