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On Friday, Google announced plans to expand its headquarters in Mountain View. The design, which would add about 2.5 million square feet to its existing campus, includes moveable biosphere-like canopies made of metal and glass, as well as parks and cafes that will be open to the public. We look at the impacts of the expansion on housing, jobs and traffic in Mountain View and the surrounding region.

Guests:
Matt O'Brien, reporter for the San Jose Mercury News
Lenny Siegel, Mountain View city councilmember
Ken Rosenberg, Mountain View city councilmember
Louise Mozingo, professor and chair of landscape architecture and environmental planning, UC Berkeley

  • Frank

    Sure, let’s expand the Google campus to make way for the ever-growing oversized egos at Google, each one the size of a Prius… But why stop there? Let’s also set up a private train system to lug the superhuman geeks down from SF. It can run through the poor neighborhoods along the 101, since clearly no one at Google cares about them. Spare no expense and leave no poor person untrodden upon for the Ùbermensch of our crony capitalist system. Heck, let’s raze East Palo Alto and hold Burning Man there, if it might please our lords Sergey and Larry. No doubt the local politicos are over-eager to delight the Googlers any way they can and will do all this and more, even oil themselves up and do a dance if asked… at taxpayers’ expense of course.

    But let’s not forget Google’s track record: Active duty military are deployed at Google, in violation of Posse Comitatus. Google happily gave emails from Wikileaks gmail accounts to the FBI (the organization that gave us COINTELPRO). Google’s main security contractor is called USIS and is owned by the Carlyle Group–which is owned by the Bush and Bin Laden families. Google was shown to be helping the NSA’s PRISM program. Google’s other security contractor SIS mistreated its security guards so badly they had to go on strike. Google Bus drivers finally had enough of their mistreatment and voted to join the Teamsters. Last but not least, Google shuttle buses are polluting the Bay Area and facilitating evictions and inflated housing costs.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/25/wikileaks-google-staff-emails-us-government
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/12/17/251992536/security-guards-at-big-tech-companies-struggle-with-low-pay
    http://io9.com/5976477/the-hidden-bus-routes-in-san-francisco-that-are-only-for-techno-elites
    http://www.businessinsider.com/googles-security-guards-protest-wages-2013-6
    http://gizmodo.com/confirmed-nsa-paid-google-microsoft-others-millions-1188615332
    http://www.carlyle.com/news-room/news-release-archive/usis-announces-agreement-be-acquired-providence-equity-partners-new-growth

    Excellent article about Eric Schmidt by Julian Assange:
    http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447

  • T Wolf

    The design of the new building looks great. Although in the video posted by Google last week featuring an overview of the design, there was no mention of the areas vulnerability to sea level rise. I hope they have taken that into account given the current forecasts for the region. Especially the worst case scenarios, as it’s been proven time and again that IPCC estimates are too conservative. Might be a good time for Google to get into the Sea Wall business as well. 20 years isn’t that far away. Even better would be to build the campus on a floating platform. Boy, would that strike a panic in people. It’s really about time for our culture to get a grip on this.

  • Mason Gibb

    Google parked over $30 billion in overseas tax havens in 2014.
    Domestically, Google perpetrates another massive tax dodge by not reporting employee meals in their employee cafes as taxable compensation.
    It receives millions in tax breaks from controversial tax-equity incentives created to subsidize solar investment. Even without the tax breaks, Google’s solar investment yields 10% profit per annum.

    Google is hurting the Californian and US economy through tax avoidance. I’d like to know if any additional tax breaks or public money will be involved in this new construction project. Including Google’s purchase, development or upkeep of area slated for ‘public’ parks.

    US PIRG report “Offshore Shell Games” (2014): http://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Offshore_Shell_Games_USPIRG.pdf
    WSJ on employee cafe tax dodge (2013): http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324050304578408461566171752
    Bloomberg News on controversial solar investment tax breaks (2014):
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-03-10/google-reaps-tax-breaks-in-1-4-billion-clean-energy-bet

    • Another Mike

      Do sailors have to declare the value of the meals they receive aboard ship as income? No. They are fed for their employer’s convenience, not theirs.

      • Mason Gibb

        Sailing is completely different–you’re isolated on a ship. If nothing else, the Foreign Income Exclusion of meals probably applies to sailors at sea.
        Talk to a corporate bookkeeper about employer meals. Google is dodging tax.

        • Another Mike

          You’re isolated at Google, too.

          • Mason Gibb

            You do not understand the tax code.

          • Another Mike

            Read Section 119.

          • Mason Gibb

            The IRS has issued many guidelines on S.119 (and S. 274, S. 212, etc.) and employee meals in general. When I was a bookkeeper, I had several conversations about corporate meals. Our lawyer and accountants both believed that Google was in violation of the code. If Google is challenged, they have the money to pay lawyers to challenge it as ambiguous. Most companies report the type of meals served at Google cafes as income, and large companies would likely put it on paystubs.

  • Another Mike

    In general, the land between 101 and the bay is both seismically unstable and prone to flooding. A company like Google has the resources to engineer buildings that can ride out a major quake, but to build a single family home to those standards would be unaffordable and uninsurable.

  • Ben Rawner

    What is this fear of the “company town”? Done responsibly and with proper planning companies like Google, FB, and Apple can create innovative solutions to population growth issues. I have seen the plans and this is no Flynt or Detroit Michigan. Maybe they can incorporate the Hyperloop into these solutions to speed up travel time.

    • Another Mike

      President Obama just declared the archetypal company town of Pullman, a national monument. Why wait — declare Mountain View a national monument now.

  • Ben

    As a Mountain View resident, I am conflicted about how to feel about the projects proposed by Google and LinkedIn. Economically speaking, the expansion proposals could not have come at a better time, bringing the city the truly world-class architecture it deserves and hundreds of millions of dollars in community benefits. On the other hand, this prosperity has left us with a serious housing shortage, and in turn a growing monoculture.

    I believe North Bayshore is our best hope at bringing a balance back to the city and region. We need to preserve our precious land by building upwards so we can have the space we need for housing, schools, and other city services. Only with increased densities can we hope to solve our transportation and housing crises while allowing these businesses to expand.

    The Peninsula has long needed a world-class city of its own, and this is Mountain View’s chance to shine.

    • asdfasdfasdfasfd

      I totally understand your feelings. but looking back at past examples, what would 18-th century New York residents be feeling about Manhattan’s transformation into a finance-central monoculture? that’s probably some historical wave you can’t avoid. I’m not saying this in a antagonistic way.

    • veggiegrrrl

      more people= more homes = more water … and where is that going to come from? which google app will bring 13 trillion gallons of water back into california reservoirs?

  • Chris OConnell

    And now for something completely different: At the end of Charleston Road, behind a parking lot for some small Google building near the Stevens Creek trail, a rare Ovenbird has been seen regularly since January.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/7739151@N06/16118924940/in/photolist-pXkcid-9F87sQ-r2hPnQ-dV6XJR-orpeSd-anfmqX-q5NJVA-qynGNY-9C9ZLh-djc1G-breTT8-bCgVS7-bRbCP4-bCgVQs-bRbCNa-otpvQx-oc2tXi-qVv9Aj-ocotVo-otcqHb-otntHC-otbNeX-ornDG1

  • ldraxx

    Build something in Fremont! Why does everything have to be in Mountainview? Fremont is home to a lot of the people that work in Sunnyvale/Mountainview/SantaClara – lets have some real tech companies move there.

    • Bill_Woods

      Why stop there? Put a campus in Stockton, and reduce traffic in the Bay Area.

      • Another Mike

        Stockton: Come for the jobs; stay for the crime.

  • ldraxx

    Say all you want about local housing and mass transit, but the roads are terrible here as well. On ramps to major arteries t such as 237 are pathetic – the Silicon Valley is world class but the roads here are nearly third world.

  • Renee

    What about schools? 10,000 more employees, how many of then will have 1, 2, 3+ children who need to go to school when schools are already over crowded. I do not hear any discussion of saving land and building schools an any growing bay area town.

    • Another Mike

      The schools might be there, unless sold off for development. The district where I live is reopening a school closed since the 1970s.

    • veggiegrrrl

      schools, schmoools. what about WATER? where is the WATER going to come from? google map THAT.

      • Renee

        I agree. I thought about the water issue later and didn’t get around to posting. So thank you for bringing it up.

  • Heidi

    I have no doubt that Google will be a very responsible community and environmental steward. They seem to be above board and transparent in their process of developing their company and working with the Local, State and Federal Government. Please keep it that way.

    I also think this type of development is much better than what happened in the past with company’s growing in cities over the decades. This is in an opportunity to review what worked and didn’t work in communities worldwide from the beginning of the industrial revolution from tenantment housing to urban planning from the 80’s to today.

    There are many areas in the Bay Area that need help in planning their communities and working with intelligent mindful planners. The area needs assistance to plan for the environmental impact that more people and commuters create. How will Google and Moutain View work with the surrounding cities such as Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose to plan to help support controlled growth and environmental impact?

    • Mike

      Google putting on a good front by using solar and … does not include all that should be addressed. All of the money spent on commuting is not part of Google’s Stewardship, which ends at its own front door. True “life cycle cost analysis” (in todays world) should include commute costs as well as school, roads, utility infrastructure, costs normally passed along to the employee and, when possible, the taxpayer. If Google really wants to become socially aware, it will set the example, not just give it lip service.

  • Chris OConnell

    Now 2 people have complained about Google buses making traffic. The posh despotism of transit by bus! Does it need to be stated that one bus is less traffic than however many people on that bus would make if they were in their cars? Apparently.

    • Another Mike

      The Bay Area is closed to outsiders. If Google hires even one non-Ohlone, we all suffer.

  • sworddance

    Some helpful basic background:

    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.

  • Mike

    The concept of decentralization was the outcome of my thinking following 911. Big has not only evolved into impressive, but in recent history has evolved into target.
    By decentralizing to local hubs government and big business would no longer be targets based upon size. Our world now has to become responsive to the consumption of resources. Going to work twenty to forty miles away is just wrong. the local hub concept conserves and supports local communities. If anyone really wants to rebuild the American economy start locally.
    I would be happy to discuss this, but just needed to get out a quick reason not to go mega. Please pass along this short note to the members of todays panel.

    • asdfasdfasdfasfd

      believe me among all people those who want decentralization most are the employees of these companies—– imagine the pain to spend 1×2 hours on the road everyday. but unfortunately a lot of times you need people to come together physically to do work, even though with modern tools such as skype video conference and google hangout etc.

      • Mike

        I understand, a good deal of creative interaction is lost in video, but that does not necessarily mean full time commuting. I think the current data shown that, from a creative perspective, some alone time is a good thing. So the amount of time needing people to come together would range from full time to one day per week or month. I varies by task. Critical thinking is a personal activity while flexibility, mobility and teamwork are group activities. I the test case at Caltrans a number of years ago productivity went up by twenty-five percent. The study was terminated baed on the need for supervision and management, without any analysis or quantification.
        From my own experience, I worked on my two hour commute, via bus, but I was never payed for that effort. The cell phone is the current corporate leash, the two wage earner household is now the norm. So I guess it becomes a question of humanness, are we simply workers or people with lives and family? I would like to think we as people can have both, but it is difficult to do.

  • asdfasdfasdfasfd

    the second caller (a lady) just gave such flat out xenophobic statements on the most “liberal”, most “democratic” radio program in the country, and none of the hosts pointed it out !?? she furiously demanded Google to give out “how many people working for google come from outside the country, outside of california” , well madam, here is a quick answer: Surgey Brin (co-founder of google if u still are not aware of him), Jerry Yang (co-founder of Yahoo) are “from outside of California”, and both of them created unimaginable wealth for the US economy, and particularly that wealth translated to huge windfall to the local residents, in terms of increasing local commerce, higher value of your homes…

    you also demanded that these companies should also provide jobs for “people with 2.1 GPA” like you, “average workers”. well unfortunately, news flash : you live in a market economy, which is the whole reason US became the most powerful country in the world. in a market you ARE paid for your value. yes, these excellent companies excel BECAUSE they hire exceptional talents. unfortunately your comments were just showing your 2.1GPA…..

  • thucy

    Dear Forum,
    Please consider a show on the work of recently deceased Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Levine. He has a local Cal State connection, like frequent guest Victor Davis Hanson. (Fresno!)
    His passing was marked on the front page of The New York Times. His poems are still quite resonant, and a great antidote to the conformist greed of Silicon Valley.
    Thanks.

    • Robert Thomas

      T. Diddy!

      We hardly knew ye.

      -A greedy conformalist

  • John

    It’s like that book, The Circle. More cult than company?

  • veggiegrrrl

    we are just at the beginning of our water crisis. can google fix that?

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