News

City signals support for LinkedIn's colossal project

Traffic remains big concern for congested Shoreline Boulevard

Perhaps the biggest and most complicated development on the horizon for Mountain View, LinkedIn's proposal for a new 10-building campus received a round of support from city leaders on Tuesday, with some big caveats attached. The project, reviewed in a City Council study session, now faces a difficult battle to prove it can mitigate traffic impacts along Shoreline Boulevard near Highway 101, widely considered to be the most congested spot in town.

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, the project now dubbed the "Shoreline Commons" was put under the proverbial magnifying glass by city officials to see if it should go forward as planned. Council members expressed some concern that the plans essentially hinge on LinkedIn being able to partner with Google and other local rivals on a slate of transportation improvements to the area.

Plans to build a new frontage road along Highway 101 would require the two tech companies to work together and both contribute land. The two firms would also be required to work together on a planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Highway 101 as well as a new off-ramp at La Avenida.

That kind of cooperation could be difficult, particularly given the background. In May, LinkedIn emerged the victor in a fierce battle for bonus development rights in the North Bayshore neighborhood. As in business, the company's chief competitor was Google, which tried to entice city officials by adding thousands of homes to its proposed expansions.

Given that the North Bayshore land competition was essentially a "zero-sum game," Councilman Chris Clark asked: Why would Google now want to help its competitor?

LinkedIn Vice President Jim Mortgensen answered that all the big companies are essentially playing in the same sandbox and dealing with the same set of troubles in the area.

"Everyone has the same interests, and we all have to make the same improvements," he said. "In order for them to do their projects, it's in their interest to help us do our projects."

The proposed Shoreline Commons development would reportedly bring 8,000 LinkedIn employees and likely many more workers to staff a new hotel, movie theater, shops and restaurants planned as part of the project. Those numbers spurred some concerns among council members and public speakers that it could worsen an already bad traffic situation.

For some, a superior way to reduce traffic would be to push for new, dense housing development in the North Bayshore, operating under the logic that workers who can walk to their jobs won't clog the streets with their cars. City planners are currently working on a North Bayshore housing study that would map out how new residences could be built in the area. But that study with have little bearing on LinkedIn, which declined to incorporate housing directly into its project.

Instead, the company is offering a lump sum of at least $40 million to the MidPen Housing Corporation to expand affordable housing development in Mountain View. Speaking on Tuesday, MidPen executive director Matt Franklin said that money would best go toward buying up older housing units or land. He estimated that about 400 housing units could be financed if the money was used to acquire an older property.

But that wouldn't be enough to counter-balance all the new jobs and traffic coming from LinkedIn's new campus, complained Councilman Lenny Siegel. He urged the company to consider adding housing to its plans, saying he couldn't support it otherwise.

"I have a hard time supporting this magnitude of job-creating development without figuring out where people are going to live," he said. "To allow this to go forward would be a big mistake."

By all accounts, the situation is as complex as it gets in municipal planning, and city staff are working on simultaneous studies for North Bayshore. Mountain View officials are envisioning more than $96 million in North Bayshore transportation improvements, much of it being funded by the local tech firms with the goal to drastically lower the number of single-occupant cars streaming into the area. As part of that effort, Mountain View planners are getting ready for a difficult effort to acquire right-of-way ownership or easements along more than 50 properties in the area. City staff reported that Mountain View may need to exercise its eminent domain privileges.

Capping the discussion, City Manager Dan Rich reminded council members that staff members were dealing with a huge challenge in planning for the future of this area.

"This is an incredibly complex issue," he said. "I don't want to mislead the council, applicant or public. This is an unprecedented engineering analysis that needs to occur here."

City Council members were generally supportive of the Shoreline Commons project. The project will be brought back for approvals at a future date.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:34 pm

"LinkedIn, which declined to incorporate housing directly into its project"

Maybe they should turn over a few of the parking lots to a tiny house development, or allow employees to sleep in their cars like this guy: Web Link


34 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

Good for Mr. Siegel to question this. I don't see how this development moves Mountain View towards the kind of town we want to be. Look at the problems we face: housing shortage, rapidly rising rents, rapidly escalating traffic and commute times, declining availability of leisure activities. Pick any of the problems raised by the citizens and show how this will help.

Mountain View needs to have a big picture plan and make sure each step is in the right direction.


19 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Isn't the favored City Council traffic mitigation strategy for something like this to remove traffic lanes?


10 people like this
Posted by Free Market Double Standard??
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2015 at 3:07 pm

"City staff reported that Mountain View may need to exercise its eminent domain privileges."

So, on Monday, the City decides to punt on rent stabilization in parts because it didn't want to interfere with the free market.
And on the very next day, the City seems willing to meddle with that same free market by considering eminent domain in a very complex private development.







17 people like this
Posted by Incoherent
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 3:29 pm

At Free market double standard.


You are correct. This is what happens when you elect council members that are ignorant of basic economic thinking. They are incoherent in their thinking and thus make poor decisions.


18 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I was concerned when the LinkedIn plans were first discussed. Although I think our City Council does a pretty good job I believe this has the potential to make a difficult situation worse - assuming that LinkedIn remains in business throughout the build process.

Let me throw out a historical tidbit / question. What would happen in Google shut down? "That'll never happen," you might reply but if history is any indication everything eventually closes shop. The internet is such a fast moving marketplace you might see both Google and Apple change drastically in the next five years. It wasn't that long ago that real estate east of 101 was unmarketable, at any price. Apple nearly went bankrupt in the late 1990's - not that long ago.

So be careful what you wish for and what you build. Vast stands of vacant apartments are as likely as 2 hour drives from downtown Mountain View to the Google Campus or Shoreline. At least our weather remains incredibly good.


9 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Eminent Domain - coming to your neighborhood soon.

Absolutely disgusting.


26 people like this
Posted by Jason
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm

New housing could help, but only a fraction of workers are willing to move so they can live right next to work. Even single 20-something tech workers. And some people who move there will end up working for other companies (and have to drive to work, although at least it'd be reverse traffic).

The entire Bay Area has been putting off essential transit infrastructure improvements for too long; eventually someone will have to pay for it. And it takes years or decades, so if we haven't started yet we're already behind.


5 people like this
Posted by Oscar Wilde
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

@James Thurber: "What would happen in Google shut down? "That'll never happen," you might reply but if history is any indication everything eventually closes shop. The internet is such a fast moving marketplace you might see both Google and Apple change drastically in the next five years."

You are correct in that every business has a lifecycle, but....Newsflash. Apple and Google are not going anywhere in 5 years.


22 people like this
Posted by Dumbfounded
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Hmm - anyone recall Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics? Oh forgot those buildings are Google now


5 people like this
Posted by billg
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 23, 2015 at 7:10 am

The affordable housing concession really are a joke. PLEASE consider moving the entire operation to Montana or Wyoming... Give some relief to the insanely inflated bay rental market... Especially in the age of Internet and cloud. LinkedIn after all is an Internet business... You don't need to burden is and your employees by cramming along the 101. Show done Stanford smarts.


3 people like this
Posted by Free Market Double Standard??
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2015 at 9:30 am

How is the affordable housing lump sum different from the housing impact fees the developer will be required to pay?


9 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

What happens when the government
permits the addition of jobs to an area but prohibits additional housing in vast physically buildable areas nearby? Government creates a housing crunch that pushes up the price of housing. Absent further government intervention, homeowners and landlords profit; renters pay more or leave. The housing crunch in the Bay Area has NOT been created by an "invisible hand" in a "free market." It has been created largely by government officials (who are almost always homeowners).


11 people like this
Posted by Commutability
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 23, 2015 at 11:01 am

I appreciate Lenny's continued focus on housing, but I've personally come to believe that most of the solution has to come from transit. How are we going to connect the Gateway of NBS to the major San Antonio and Downtown hubs? The La Avenida exit will be a great help for car commuters, but I'd love to see better rail connections throughout the city.

Relatedly, it's sad to see such a nicely redeveloped movie theater, but with no good "dinner and a movie" options without getting back in your car. Redwood City's downtown theater makes for a great night out.


14 people like this
Posted by WTH
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 23, 2015 at 2:55 pm

"Shoreline Boulevard near Highway 101, widely considered to be the most congested spot in town."

If Google and Linkdin both have their way, this will be the most congested spot in the whole United States.

For those advocating more house, like Jason up above said, more houses does not mean the owners will be working in Mt. View or close by.

Google and the others do not have to move, they can simply make satellite buildings in places less crowded like Modesto.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm

I remember MV voted about Home Depot. I guess opposition to that was larger, since there is no talk about having the residents of MV vote on how to proceed about this development or if development is even desired. Or perhaps if even a limit on how many employees the city can support.


20 people like this
Posted by dindu american
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 23, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Serious question, why does a spam email company like Linkedin need 10 buildings and 8000 employees for

Bubble what bubble?


7 people like this
Posted by marks
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm

i live in santiago villa. the only 2 ways in to this area is shoreline and rengstorff. if you plan on making lavenida a 101 exit, the people in santiago villa will be trapped like rats. the people of santiago villa realize that nothing they say on any matter will be heard, just overlooked. a new on ramp and off ramp at lavenida will not help traffic, nor will a frontage road help either. people have been using the century 16 parking lot as a commuter lane to turn at the light to get on 101. nothing can be done to alleviate traffic here. the only thing that can alleviate traffic is to kick google out of town. kick them out of moffett also. the bus depot there now is causing higher speeds on base and a lot of safety issues.


8 people like this
Posted by MV City needs think more
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2015 at 7:07 pm

Besides traffic and housing, how about public schools? Is MV school district ready for this if these 8000 employees decide to stay in MV? Or, these LinkedIn employees are NOT going to have kids at all? Or, these kids will only go to private school???


7 people like this
Posted by Agenda 21
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Just a tiny preview of Agenda 21...Mountain View signed onto that. Look it up and weep.


8 people like this
Posted by Sardene
a resident of Castro City
on Oct 25, 2015 at 10:35 pm

City government wants more money from development and sales tax to pay for more employees, higher salaries, benefits and pensions. It does not matter what residents want.


3 people like this
Posted by Eek
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2016 at 9:12 pm

I hope that LinkedIn's 45% drop in company value last week doesn't impact their expansion plans...

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2016 at 12:12 am

Ever since LinkedIn has taken over the land on Plymouth, it's trying to push out the existing restaurants by increasing their cost unnrcessarily. If those business cannot pay the expenses, LinkedIn can force them to leave. If the space is vacant, Mountain Biew council has a good excuse to accept their plans. It's not fair on the small mom and pop shops that are being forced out. So sad.


4 people like this
Posted by another MV resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2016 at 6:43 am

When Linkedin won their expansion plans, they promised $40 million of public benefits, is that still happening under their stock dip and purchase by Microsoft?

Google has been a good landlord to small businesses like the Pear Theater, I hope LinkedIn will follow suite.
When Google was rejected by the city, the city lost Google's offer of $200 million in public benefits.

Does anyone think this was the single biggest council mistake this year?
The city could have gotten both needed and innovative infrastructure upgrades and a world class company campus.


3 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2016 at 8:13 am

From what we hear, LinkedIn's management companies is harassing the existing small businesses.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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