Council closing in on plan for Google, North Bayshore

Potentially adding space for over 17,500 new office workers, a plan is coming into focus for Google's neighborhood north of Highway 101 which could include a cap on car traffic and the development of eight-story buildings along the freeway and North Shoreline Boulevard.

Council members indicated support in a study session Tuesday for the "guiding principles" of a proposed precise plan for the area, which could add 3.5 million square feet of office space to an area where 7.5 million square feet now exists, along with a possible new hotel and entertainment venues near 101. In an effort to pull development away from wildlife habitat along Stevens Creek and the Bay, the proposal focuses development of the tallest office buildings in a "core area" of North Bayshore, where most buildings would be four to five stories, but could be as high as eight stories.

Approaching local creeks and the Bay, heights taper down so that most buildings would be no more than two to three stories stories tall.

Council members wanted to go even further in focusing development in the center of the area and closer to Highway 101.

"You go down (Highway) 101 and see the tall buildings in other cities -- I don't think that bothers a lot of folks," said council member Margaret Abe-Koga, who said she wanted to bring development in and closer to Highway 101.

Council member Ronit Bryant added, "We say we don't want a wall of buildings why not have a wall of buildings along the freeway? I see no reason not to."

Within the core area of North Bayshore, council members indicated support for a street-scape similar to downtown, where buildings come up to sidewalks and and have ground-floor retail and restaurants. Dedicated bike lanes, sidewalk cafes and ample walkways and landscaping were shown in designs.

Some members were skeptical that ground-floor retail and restaurants would work, given that Google provides free food and other services for its employees and North Bayshore restaurants say they are rapidly losing business and face closure.

"It's been suggested to me you limit the size of cafeterias or kitchen space so that by design you limit the ability of mega-employers to serve their own employees food," said council member Mike Kasperzak. "There's no way you can say it's an environment conducive to restaurants, given the model that's gone out there."

Abe-Koga said the answer to encouraging small businesses on the ground floor of new buildings is to "intensify" development in the center of North Bayshore and "make it walkable."

"Starbucks on Pear Avenue -- it's packed all afternoon," Abe-Koga said. "There's definitely some businesses that can do well. We just have to look at what those are."

There's no housing in the plan, said Mayor John Inks, referring to the council's decision to keep new housing out of the area, despite Google's support for the idea. "Can you really crunch retail and other services there when you only have half a community?"

Despite numerous proposals to reduce traffic in and out of North Bayshore -- including a new shared shuttle system, a network of bike- and pedestrian-only greenways and automated trams, council members are still concerned about existing traffic problems getting worse.

"When it took me two hours to get from downtown to the concert (at Shoreline Amphitheatre), it made me think, 'What are we doing here?'" Abe-Koga said of driving on North Shoreline Boulevard.

Some council members want a hard cap on allowed car trips that could force employers to take significant measures or face a moratorium on development, similar to what the city of Palo Alto imposed on Stanford University, which pays its employees not to drive.

"Until we do that, we're just talking," said Bryant.

Kasperzak said he agreed.

"We just have to have the determination to say a hard cap is going to have to happen," Bryant said.

"I think we should look at parking along the freeway -- certainly Intuit is looking at something along these lines," Bryant said. "Less traffic is good for wildlife and be better for all the people who work there."

The council is expected to take up the issue of traffic and transportation in North Bayshore in more detail in a future meeting, including a traffic study of a bridge over Stevens Creek to NASA Ames that would be restricted to high occupancy vehicles. Council members have resisted the bridge plan, which Google proposed along with a 1.1 million-square-foot office campus at Ames, though that project is now on hold.

Audubon Society Wildlife advocate Shani Kleinhaus spoke in support of the guiding principles of the plan, calling it "really exceptional, really wonderful" that it included expanding the habitat in the most sensitive areas near the wetlands near the detention pond and near the egret colony, she said. The area is home to the largest such bird colony in the South Bay, which inhabits the trees not far from where Google has proposed its bridge over Stevens Creek.


Like this comment
Posted by Get her out
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

OMG! Margaret Abe-Koga must go. If there was any question that she's here to represent the mega-developers before, its completely gone now.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Reduce autos by extending Light Rail from Ellis/101 to Shoreline Amphitheater and Google.

Like this comment
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm

@get her out, add to that list Ronit Bryant.

"Potentially adding space for over 17,500 new office workers."

And will all the 17,500 live in Mtn. View? Or commute from other areas? IF this goes through there will be traffic nightmares. And you thought we had it bad now.

Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm

17,000... what's a few more ?
EGADS Council... pull your head out.. There is NOTHING short of total gridlock to be done if 17,000 more folks come and go , morning and evening onto and off of 101 or 85...that's got to be at least 10,000 or so more cars, looking for parking spaces.. NO, they won't car pool, and whose stupid idea is it to restrict parts of the road to "car poolers"? Ah, more nanny state directions...
Come on Council... there is no need to jam more buildings and workplaces into MtnView...We don't need it, it will crush us. Let them build and go to the way south Bay, or to the hills of Fremont...THEN build decent transportation into the sites as they develop.

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Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Mountain View needs a full service hotel with meeting space for a large group (like the Cabana Palo Alto). It would seem a no-brainer to develop a hotel at the corner of Shoreline and 101, across from Computer History Museum. Hopefully they will also provide space for Pear Ave Theatre which is in its 11th season.

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Posted by konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Margaret Abe-Koga and Ronit Bryant term out next year.
We can elect Council Members who will represent the residents of Mountain View and NOT the developers!

Take Mountain View Back!

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

To Kathy
How does adding a convention center or hotel relieve traffic on Nth Shoreline?
What about the businesses that are existing? Dump them out for the common good?
Abe- Koga says it took 2 hrs from downtown to Shoreline Amphitheatre . If there are 22,500 people trying to get to a single venue at the same time that's what happens and has been happening for over 20 years..

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Posted by Liz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Here we go again with Google. They just keep building more and more appartments but the roads are the same. On my street there are certain times of the day I can't pull out of my driveway or turn in. Margaret Abe-Koga needs to be removed from office. Mountain City council has lost the vision of this city. We used to be a small quite town no more..

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

It can go either way. People who live in Mountain View don't all work for Google and those who worth there don't all live here. The city years ago decided not to build any housing in the NSB shock I think the 70's come to mind.

Time to get going on other transit options other then the 1 person option I keep seeing. Also want to point out traffic was bad even before Google and if we don't do anything now. It will be bad after Google.

Since the 80's the city has tried to lure a hotel with meeting space and elsewhere in the city. We could build small, watch Google leave along with all the other companies that left for modern office space to accommodate growth in the marketplace or we could just have offices.

The Silicon Valley which we have played a giant role in creating has become a major center in the world or we could just have small offices.

All that traffic means jobs that employ thousand of hard working people who might become successful in starting a company.

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Posted by Sunny Days
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Not providing housing near all of those new buildings is very short sighted. Of course people want to live near their office. And it reduces road trips. The city needs to accept the changing reality.

Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm

What's the argument against housing there? It should actually reduce traffic and thus reduce environmental impact, right?

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Posted by beelia
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

See that little rectangle behind those huge new buildings on Shoreline? That's the existing mobile home park - 357 households. It's not just full of old folks, as you probably think, there are lots of techies in there - and pretty soon we're not going to be able to get in or out to our non-Google jobs.

Traffic has worsened steadily in the last 17 years I've lived in the park. Abe-Koga's discovery that it takes two hours to get from downtown to the amphitheatre is nothing new to us.

So a "wall of buildings" is acceptable? Andyou want bike lanes, cafes, walkways and landscaping? Wake up, people - this is California, not Amsterdam. You can't have it both ways!

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Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Rob - I did not suggest we build a convention center. I said a 'full service hotel'. I think it is ridiculous that a City like Mountain View cannot attract a major hotel chain. I suggest we (costing the city $$ (and is a nightmare to get to and from), build a hotel with golf course views.

Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Slater
on Oct 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm

If it was only this neighborhood facing over development, gridlock, and big city style high density, it would be a tragedy. The majority of the city council have plans to urbanize Mtn View in the San Antonio area, down the full length of El Camino, and in North Shoreline that has the potential to double the population of Mountain View. This would be an utter disaster and completely change our way of life. When the citizens complain about potential gridlock, they shrug it off and say things about alternative transportation even though the solutions are not there yet. I believe they want to gridlock the roads to force you to choose alternative transportation although they will never openly claim this is what they are after in campaign materials. Grant road is routinely gridlocked along with El Camino, San Antonio, and Shoreline. This are the small heart attacks to the cities arteries that are the warning signs of things to come and in response the majority of city council members are doubling down on high density not ever seen in Mountain View in this size or scope.

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Posted by Greg Perry
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

All those workers will need to live somewhere.

Either they live here, or they commute in.

Realistically, they will commute in. You would need about 11,000 homes to house that many workers. That's about 20 times as big as Mayfield, and that died. We will build a few infill projects that, if combined, cover perhaps 5% of demand. A few people will ride the train or work shuttle.

So, expect about 16,000 more cars on 101 and 85.

Like this comment
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm

One doesn't have to rely on corp. promises for traffic mitigation, just lock in the number of new parking spaces to match their pledges, or better yet, drastically reduce the number of parking spaces new projects may have, and ask those companies to innovate to fit those new extreme restraints.

Could someone explain to me why mixed use was nixed North of the 101 when there's little traffic after business hours and retail is seeking more customers, and yet mixed used was approved for El Camino where there is existing high traffic after business hours? I would welcome mixed use corporate housing along the lines of micro-apartments North of Shoreline that is developed with Zipcars and no parking, zero. There's no meaningful street parking, so micro-apartments in North Bayshore would slow the rising cost housing by addressing demand, and have a smaller traffic impact on the rest of Mountain View.

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Posted by NO!
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 18, 2013 at 6:03 am

Watch out for big deals being pushed by these Terming Out council members. They have nothing to lose and campaign $ to gain by bending over and letting the developers do whatever they want. Well, since we're now watching, lets keep them in check so they don't ruin the city on their way out.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:31 am

So it took Abe-Koga 2 hour to get to the Amphitheatre, how about being concerned for all the resident who live on her route. I shutter to think, how long it take to get emergency services into the area during that time. Gridlock for hours makes you feel like a prisoner in your own home. And that has been going on for too long, plus all the polution from all those cars. You might as well pave over whole neighborhoods to move all the people who would work in those new high rise office buildings.
And watch out Abe-Koga might be your next state representitive, for years it has bee said that she is the darling of the unions....

Like this comment
Posted by Colleen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

Special interest groups control the country and increasingly the world. Developers are among them. Bart workers. Bus drivers. Career politicians. Oil companys. Real estate brokers. Homeland Security. Cameras everywhere. Drones. New phones. Banks. Non-profits. The list of cons goes on and on.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Slater
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm

You would think North Bayshore in particular would be a golden opportunity for the City Council to advance their walkability, bikeability, sustainability and mixed use agenda and yet they don't? Could it be because this is not in an ABAG PDA area? Taxes from this area are all bottled up for some reason and aren't accessed the same as taxes in other parts of MV. Does anybody know why? I remember that the school district always wanted to gain access to this pot of money but couldn't for some reason as it was in a separate bucket for some reason.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Slater
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Ok, I found answer to my own question at MV voice article "parents-seek-larger-slice-of-shoreline-taxes"
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

I like the idea of housing but time over time housing in the NBS hasn't been well received and.popular. The Moblie Home park is grandfathered in years ago.

A mixed.use project using land on both sides of 101 will help. See nothing with having a office building with a condo building with retail on ground floor.

Build from 85 and 101 interchange lanes for Bus both public and private with Van transit right into NBS into a transfer stations. Bikes, transfer shuttles or walking trails. Not everything out there is Google.

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Posted by reader
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I have a wild idea but would like it serioiusly considered by MV CC and Google and all. How about building a pier around Shoreline for ferries and running ferries between MV and Alameda, Jack London, SF Ferry Building, somewhere in hayward/fremont area. Why not consider having Google fund the building of this and the cost of the ferries as part of their dues for expanding their impact upon the community they are part of? Such a path would probably be much faster than caltrain or the freeway.
Also, wouldn't it be good to require Google to make their shuttles open to the public like Stanford is with their Margurite Shuttles.

Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm

We have got to stop this madness, this is not New York City. Be sure to only vote for candidates who promise to limit density to well below what is currently being discussed

Like this comment
Posted by michele
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

How is it that Shani Kleinhaus is so thrilled about development in the egret breeding area, because last I knew she was vehemently opposed. She blames the decrease in burrowing ground owls on feral cats, when in two instances, Google made a large donation to the Audubon society (think "fitness center) to relocate these birds, when anyone with any knowledge of this bird knows they don't relocate well.

Google has the city of MV in its pocket, period. Anyone who has lived and purchased a home here in the last 20 years and is NOT employed by Google ought not to say a thing. They are here to stay, destroy, and pay out large sums of money to get what they want. It's rather disgusting, to me.

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I see the word "sustainability" in several of these communications, as well as having the word shoved down my throat on a daily basis by other media sources.

In the context of what the city and Google want to do, what PRECISELY does sustainability mean? Anyone? Please educate feels like a new buzzword that accompanies organic and local...

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