News

Council deadlocks on Google bridge idea

Majority balks at studying link over Stevens Creek for pedestrians, shuttles

Though it might stop them from meeting goals for keeping cars out of North Bayshore, a slim majority of council members are so dead-set against building a shuttle bridge over Stevens Creek that they refuse to allow a study of its environmental impacts.

Council members argued about the bridge late into the night Tuesday, Dec. 10, in a study session on land use and transportation plans for the North Bayshore area north of Highway 101.

Originally, the bridge was proposed by Google to connect the east end of Chareslton Road across Stevens Creek to a new Google campus at NASA Ames Research Center. The bridge was touted Tuesday as one of the keys to getting North Bayshore employees out of their cars if it were restricted to shuttles, cyclists and pedestrians -- no cars allowed.

The bridge would provide a connection from the heart of North Bayshore to downtown Mountain View and Highway 101 along Moffett Boulevard -- bypassing Shoreline Boulevard gridlock.

Opposing the study of the bridge's environmental and traffic impacts were members Ronit Bryant, Jac Siegel, Margaret Abe-Koga and John McAlister, arguing it would ruin the "character" of North Bayshore that draws businesses there, and impact wildlife habitat in the area.

"As someone who likes to make fact-based decisions, that really bugs me," said council member Chris Clark, calling it a "mistake" to not study the bridge. A study would find out how effective it would be, he said. "And if it's going to be effective, what are the environmental costs?"

"It's obvious this bridge touches us in places we really care about," said council member Bryant, who noted that it was the third meeting in which council members opposed the bridge. "My vision for North Bayshore is nature and high tech together in a campus-like environment. The mode share (car traffic reduction) is a tool. If that tool degrades the environment, even if it's the most efficient tool possible, it's not for me."

The council was reminded by consultant Jeffrey Tumlin of Nelson Nygaard that they would have to make use of all the best options available to them to reduce vehicle traffic. Planning Director Randy Tusda said the bridge may be needed to reach the council's goal of reducing the percentage of North Bayshore employees using cars to only 45 percent. Google has already taken aggressive measures in this regard, and has 61 percent of employees driving cars.

"It's already an aggressive target -- our concern is we are not going to be able to meet it" without the Charleston Road bridge, Tsuda said. He reminded council that they had decided against a "hard cap" on vehicle trips into North Bayshore, like Stanford University's cap that restricts car traffic to 1989 levels.

Despite repeated assurances that the bridge was not being proposed for car travel -- as that would hurt the council's goals -- Bryant said a future City Council could change that. "These are the same arguments used to build freeways through cities -- to bring freeways through Greenwich Village," she said.

Former city manager Bruce Liedstrand also called on the council to study housing, something in the environmental study for North Bayshore that a majority of the council oppose. Housing in North Bayshore would be another way to reduce commuter traffic, he said.

"A failure to include it prevents informed decision-making and public participation," Liedstrand said. "It could put the project at legal risk."

New Highway 101 bridge

A plan came into focus Tuesday for building a bypass along the west side of gridlocked Shoreline Boulevard for shuttles, bicyclists and pedestrians. It would include a bridge that would cross Highway 101 from a site on Terra Bella Avenue, and then either directly connect to Shoreline Boulevard north of the freeway or connect with Joaquin Avenue to the north. It would either cut through the movie theater property and an adjacent property or go around the western edge of the theater site.

"If it were seen as valuable to those property owners, it could go through the middle of those properties," Tumlin said of the bypass, adding that the movie theater property owners might "embrace having this connection through to downtown." He added that to "orient development around it would help those properties best achieve their mode split (traffic reduction) goals."

Consultants said Tuesday that all employers would be asked to meet the goal of having only 45 percent of employees driving to work alone in cars, including the movie theater and other restaurants and retailers. Tumlin said his group was even considering how a "cap and trade" system could allow employers to be able to buy such car trips from other employers if they were unable to meet the target.

"We do have concerns with any proposed alignment that would result in bifurcation of our property," said Bill Vierra of SyWest Development, which owns the theater property and wants to redevelop it with a new Century theater and spa, which the company would run. "It would pose challenges in designing our site."

The City Council rejected a request earlier this year from SyWest to redevelop the site ahead of the precise plan for North Bayshore which has put major redevelopment of the area by Google and others on hold.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

A north to south connection sound, but reality is a great east to west connection is needed. 101 gets to crowed, a underused light rail line, planned 70 acres over at Moffett Ames South Gate


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Dec 12, 2013 at 11:22 am

The article seems to be written from a perspective that is biased toward having the bridge. For instance, why is "character" in quotes? Maybe its just me but saying someone is "so dead-set against" something has negative connotations and implies obstinance, stubbornness, or unreasonableness.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2013 at 11:37 am

How often will this bridge be used? A few times a day? Once an hour? More often than that?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OldTimer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Bryant and Siegel will term out next year -- thank goodness! Then, hopefully with more thoughtful, objective Councilmembers, we can finally begin to address the issue of placing housing where people work -- and that means North Bayshore. It's time the City stops being held hostage to the demands of one special interest group -- the Audubon Society -- and objectively address to concerns of the citizens of this City, who have to endure all the housing development (and the ensuing traffic) that is forced to locate on the south side of 101. If you want to be green, then build housing in North Bayshore.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Matt
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Perhaps that is why they bought the new property in Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Council has to check with prometheus before doing anything.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by vkmo
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I am a retired silicon valley tech employee. I agree with Google. Google's presence has been very beneficial to Mountain View residents. I like Google's proposals. Let's implement them quickly!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NewTimer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I agree with 'OldTimer'! Let's pave over everything, chop down all the trees and allow open hunting on all animal species--endangered or otherwise. We should not be standing in the way of corporate progress and their desire to enhance our lives while increasing profitability. Capitalism is the system this country runs on and we need to just let the free market determine our environmental policies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stevens
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 13, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Hopefully no bridge over poor Stevens Creek means less development at North Bayshore. Let some of them work from home.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alex Z
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm

No cars means if there is a terrorist strike, google collects buku bucks for each employee life lost, and gets free publicity, to boot. A purrrrfect way to save the corporation, if it ever starts to go under. And they all, eventually, do


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Hmm, I'm with newtimer, who agrees with oldtimer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nnnnup
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Google is trying to build their own "Google only" route and leave the traffic jams to the suckers. No way a bridge over SC reduces traffic coming in. Not gonna happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

Build the thing and let google pay for it. The city will get a free bridge and can decide later if they want to change how it its utilized. For the eco-freaks that think this will harm the creek, let's get real...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Future Seer
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Dec 17, 2013 at 6:32 am

The bridge won't do much, the endless stream of traffic will though. Google wiould use it until it needed repairs, then flop it to the city. It won't address traffic on Shoreline, its for private Google use only, a Google only path to Google. Its all about helping Google only, that's it, it serves ZERO benefit to anyone else in MV, and would actually be zero use to most Google employees. Think beyond the end of your nose people. This is exclusivity, not even a well hidden attempt at it. Google doesn't like to wait in traffic so they want to build their own PRIVATE route to their campus. Its pure BS to assume anything else, and I'm glad the Council sees this as (most) all others do.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 8:09 am

@ Future Seer:

"This is exclusivity, not even a well hidden attempt at it."

BINGO.

Google put their plans to build their ONE MILLION SF office complex at NASA-Ames "on-hold" back in July, and some have speculated that one of the main reasons for the project being indefinitely delayed is related to the approval, or more accurately, the lack of approval of the Stevens Creek "shuttle" bridge. There has also been public speculation that google is waiting for certain council members to term out, and be replaced by council members who will be more favorable to google's agenda.

The vitality and solvency of Mountain View does not depend solely on google, and the city should NOT be selling it's soul to them, as it seems to be doing...piece by piece.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NotAFanOfNoseCutting
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Good point. Let's stop the increased property taxes which this will bring in. Sunnyvale needs some love to.
While we are at it let's continue to push policy which won't reduce traffic just so we can annoy employees of the city's largest employer.

Seriously though what is the problem with creating a road which will only be used by a subsection of people if that road radically reduces the traffic in the neighboring shared roads? You do realise that Google is the cause of most traffic jams in the morning. Removing that traffic from the main road just decreases traffic elsewhere.
Also what is the problem with adding additional corporate buildings if if can be done in such a way that it doesn't impact the environment?


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

I Told My Mom She's Dying
By Chandrama Anderson | 10 comments | 2,271 views

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,418 views

Fancy Fast and Fun!
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 804 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 802 views

Palo Alto and Bay Area Election Facts and Thoughts on the Implications
By Steve Levy | 2 comments | 239 views