City pays $28 million to pave the way for Google | News | Mountain View Online |


City pays $28 million to pave the way for Google

Council OKs land deal with tech giant, aims to ease Shoreline traffic

Google will receive $28 million from the city of Mountain View in exchange for a series of North Bayshore properties needed to build traffic improvements along Shoreline Boulevard. The purchase was approved in a 5-2 vote at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, despite criticism that the city is footing the bill to aid the tech giant's expansion.

The deal is for about 1.75 acres of land that the city would use to connect Plymouth Street to Space Park Way. Traffic is regularly congested along at this spot on Shoreline Boulevard due to the crush of drivers who work in the area. The plan is to realign Plymouth Street about 300 feet to the north so that it creates a new four-way intersection across Shoreline, which city officials believe will greatly speed up traffic.

But building that intersection would require demolishing multiple office buildings that Google is loathe to surrender. For months, a team of Mountain View officials have been holding closed-door negotiations with Google representatives to hammer out the property sale.

Last March, Google officials had pledged to negotiate a land sale to the city in order to win approvals for their Charleston East campus, which is currently under construction. But the price of the land wasn't determined at the time, and city officials on Tuesday said they had to give the company a fair market price based on property appraisals.

The nature of this exchange frustrated multiple council members, who pointed out that the tech giant was supposed to be paying for traffic improvements as part of its massive office development plans. The precise plan for North Bayshore imposes a strict cap of 18,900 cars on the road per weekday morning, and new office projects not only are expected to finance new transportation upgrades but also to demonstrate that they're reducing traffic.

"The intent was to have these new office projects pay their way for the improvements needed to increase capacity on these roads," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. "I have a fundamental problem with paying the company that is 90 percent of the population out there, paying them to fix their problem, and at top dollar."

City staff and other council members said Abe-Koga's assessment wasn't quite accurate. As part of the Charleston East project approved last year, Google paid about $17.9 million in impact fees. On Tuesday night, city staff reported that $13.4 million of those fees would be used to purchase the properties along Plymouth Street.

Once the road construction is complete, the city will be left with excess land that it can resell to recoup some of the cost, according to city staff. As part of the land negotiations, Google officials insisted they receive first right of refusal on any available land left over from the road realignment.

"I fail to understand why this is such a big deal," said Mayor Lenny Siegel. "Between the sell-back value and the transportation impact fees, we're coming out even in terms of dollars."

The $28 million to pay for the land won't come from the city's general fund, but rather the Shoreline Regional Park Community Fund, a special tax district run by city officials that draws money from developments and property tax. The Shoreline fund was originally established through state legislation in 1969 to improve recreation in the North Bayshore area, but the city in recent years has used the district to finance a variety of other improvements.

Despite the source of the money, there was barely enough support on the council to approve the deal. Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak signaled their opposition early on in the discussion, on the principle that Google was supposed to be paying for the traffic upgrades. As a budget allocation, the action required five votes, and it fell to Councilman John McAlister to cast the deciding vote. He threw his support behind the project with the caveat that the city staff pressure Google to vacate the office buildings on the properties as soon as possible, in order to get the project under way quickly.

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28 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:03 pm

The City drives a hard bargain. Maybe these city officials will next handle negotiations with Vladimir Putin. They could start by offering all of Europe. Anything to save the origianl 13 colonies that became the USA.

15 people like this
Posted by MV Tax Payer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:25 pm

We should be paying teachers more. The schools aren't good enough for the amount of money we're paying in taxes.

27 people like this
Posted by Citizen X
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Wow. Isn't this development right across the street from the trailer park residents the city just screwed over by denying them rent control? It is becoming obvious that city officials are only willing to expend any effort helping big business. The citizens are a second thought. Those Mobile homes are next. They will basically just allow Google to buy it, then rezone it for them to develop. I can't believe they are allowed to screw over the citizens in North Bayshore like this.

They should all be voted out. None of them are enforcing the laws voters passed in any meaningful way. That should be their first priority. Not having multiple meetings with Google without citizen involvement. The ethics around what is happening is frightening

5 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:10 am

Why is curving Plymouth away from 101 a good idea? I guess removing two buildings is a win for the usual readers here.

25 people like this
Posted by And the schools?
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 15, 2018 at 8:15 am

Google couldn't use the money from their Trump tax cut to make these improvements? We will need money to build schools for these 10,000 additional homes approved by Mountain View city council. That money would have gone a long way towards building a school. Or maybe Google plans to help with the bill for that later?

54 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 15, 2018 at 8:36 am

It's sad having witnessed Google destroy this beautiful area. Unfortunately it will only get worse as this indicates. These tech companies have more than just influence with local cities, and this is just another clear example of that. Enoughs, enough. It's time to curtail the expansion of these companies because the taxes they pay don't begin to cover the cost of the problems they create. Traffic congestion due to local infrastructure clearly not capable of handling the extreme capacity placed on it and housing shortages in every South Bay city that are DIRECTLY due to Google Facebook Apple and others. These are the same companies that go to great length to avoid paying the real tax footprint create, yet the CITY will fit the bill for fixing a problem they are directly responsible for creating.

And on a side note: while there are some truely wonderful people that have been brought to the area by these companies, the vast majority are rude and unfriendly.

55 people like this
Posted by Death spiral
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2018 at 9:37 am

Reviewing recent agenda items:

A) The decision sell 1 million gallons of water daily, in perpetuity, to East Palo Alto for a ONE TIME fee of $5 million dollars. Check out the city’s draft water plan for the future...with the planned buildout presently projected Mountain View will have a water deficit in 2025 because of this deal, and that is in a non-drought year.

B) The decision to allow the transfer of development rights as part of the deal with LASD. This decision does not require a neighborhood school be built in the San Antonio Precise Plan Area and contains a literal giveaway in the TDR's — which includes removing ALL FUTURE REQUIREMENTS OF PUBLIC BENEFITS on any of those development sites. The TDRs alone are worth an estimated $80 million dollars. The combined loss of public benefits on those sites is estimated at well over $12 million dollars. The gatekeeper requests for the TDR sites contain requests for multiple variances, including allowing additional height (from the allowed six to eight stories in height for one development in the San Antonio Precise Plan area) reduced setbacks, bonus FAR, removing retail and HOUSING requirements. All with no additional requirements for ANY public benefit for the residents of Mountain view from ANY of these developments. NOTHING. The TDRs are not contained within the San Antonio Precise Plan area, but are for almost exclusivelynon-residential development projects at various locations within Mountain, and these projects will have numerous negative impacts on ALL residents of Mountain View.

C) The city of Mountain View (taxpayers) PAYING Google $28 million dollars to acquire land in order to make infrastructure improvements FOR Google. Quote from council meeting on Tuesday: Margaret Abe-Koga, “I have a fundamental problem with paying the company that is 90 percent of the population out there, paying them to fix their problem, and at top dollar." EVEN OF Google initially paid $13.4 million in i,pact fees at the time of purchase of those properties...Mountain. Owe taxpayers should NOT be funding the infrastructure improvements created because of Google and for the convenience of Google.

3 people like this
Posted by ResidentSince1982
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2018 at 1:47 pm

ResidentSince1982 is a registered user.

The article contains a contradiction. It says the total cost is $28 Million. It says that part will be paid by some $13 Million left of funds Google already paid to the city. Then it says the entire $28 Million will come out of the special district. Did it mean the remaining $15 Million would come from the district? If Google buys the
abandoned street segment after the realignment is complete and pays $15 Million, then where will that money then go?

21 people like this
Posted by SP Phil
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 15, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Kevin, I'm impressed that you have already met the vast majority of Google's Mountain View employees and that you know these tens of thousands of people well enough to know that they are "rude and unfriendly."

31 people like this
Posted by soooo....
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 15, 2018 at 2:55 pm

we pay google, so that googles employees have an easier drive to and from work?


9 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 15, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Buildings have to be purchased to be removed and for a street to be added. It has to be at fair market value. Public streets are done by the government. I don’t see a problem with the approach. We all want traffic solved so action has to be taken to improve corridors.

Property taxes generate a lot of revenue for the city, but it’s a shame that we don’t adjust property taxes to market rates. Everyone should be paying their fair share for improvements, schools, etc.

17 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 15, 2018 at 4:15 pm


I appologize if you feel offended by my comment Phil. I have been living in this area for over thirty-five years and in addition to the hundreds of people I have meet who work for these companies outside of their workplace, I also work in a field that requires me to work directly with individuals and groups of individuals at theses companies. It's based my first hand experience working and communicating with these individuals.

15 people like this
Posted by (No) Mountain View
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 15, 2018 at 5:19 pm

My advise is to let Google stew in its own juices. All the locals know how bad shoreline can be at certain times and try to avoid it. (Sorry trailer park people.) Many Google employees must use it to get to work. I think that if enough Google employees get fed up with the congestion, inconvenience, and soaring housing prices they will be begging to relocate. The way it is going around here, even the software engineers can't afford to buy a home around here. Luckily (?) I have been in the area for 50+ years and have a home. When I retire, I'm outta here.

8 people like this
Posted by Jan
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 15, 2018 at 5:49 pm

@ Kevin: everyone has a right to their opinion, but directly calling the majority of Googlers rude and unfriendly in a public forum is unhelpful, inflammatory and damages discourse. We've seen enough of that in today's environment. We're long term homeowners and it's just as bad as those who support the homeless RV's calling all homeowners greedy and NIMBY's -- doesn't advance anyone's argument.

12 people like this
Posted by No name
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:25 pm

I am resident of the whisman park area and a blue collar worker that is about to lose my home due to redevelopment. Where are residents like myself move to and afford an apartment and still have a decent quality of life.

16 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Hi Jan,

At no point in my comments did I specify that only Google employees where rude and unfriendly. It is not unfriendly, inflammatory, or damaging to anyone. Based on the other the other commenters and likes, it seems like others share this point of view or have had similar experiences in the area.

It's a shame people are overly sensitive and too quick to comment, post, or tweet before taking to time read things completely.

9 people like this
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2018 at 12:08 am

Greg David is a registered user.

Wow, I think this is the first time I have ever actually agreed with Abe-Koga. Maybe there is hope.

14 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 16, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Why is the City giving money to Google? Google should be paying us!!!! They are responsible for a lot of the extra traffic!!!

13 people like this
Posted by Whismanian
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 16, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Wow. We are paying for road improvements due to Google’s takeover of our city with their enormous buses and steady increasing influx of employees. I applaud Margaret and Lisa who oppose this. They get my vote next time around! The other council members are apparently unaware of how much google has adversely affected our once quiet town. I wonder how much each of them is getting paid by Google. Go to Nevada Google. Lots of land there and it’s cheaper than here. So many families are adversely affected by them people becoming homeless. Children having to move elsewhere. Council members need to care about their voters and residents versus how much they are being rewarded for their votes. Why else would they be offering up our city like this?

6 people like this
Posted by BillyJoe
a resident of North Bayshore
on Feb 16, 2018 at 1:39 pm

BillyJoe is a registered user.

Don't worry anyone. Lenny Siegel says its no big deal so nothing to see here. I wonder how much of that money is getting funneled back to Larceny Lenny.

4 people like this
Posted by DDD
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2018 at 2:09 pm

I don't see what the problem is, as long as it's market price. It's just a property acquisition by the city.

8 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 16, 2018 at 5:46 pm

The city should cancel the project next year and sell the properties back to Google for 2x the price.

3 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 16, 2018 at 8:57 pm

You know why Larry and Mr Baskin and Robbins agreed to this? They own homes here which keeping increasing in value. They only care about themselves. Not the thousands of people who are being pushed out and like myself can barely afford groceries now to our high rent here. They are living the life. Care about the people. Lisa and Margaret do! Seriously. Perhaps fix up the run down baskin and robbins with the kick back you’re getting. I’m not the only person who thinks this.

3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2018 at 12:13 am


Spare us the crocodile tears. Mountain View hasn't been a small quiet town for over 25 years. And the only reason the "children" are having to move elsewhere is because of the huge fight residents put up against building the housing that they'd live in, lest a tall building intrude on their view.

3 people like this
Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 17, 2018 at 2:17 pm

All this hoopla over 2 buildings with the space for 50 cars? Google should have just donated the tiny spaces. G just bought another 500,000 in SV from Sunnyvale not to mention the 4 other new High rise that went up. Perhaps the unused space can be parking for the Sports Page bar (that was just sold too) Unfortunately they just install a light at the end of Plymouth (wasted money?) or are we getting 2 new lights 50 yards from another?

7 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 20, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Shame on every Councilmember for bowing down to every wants
from Google. You acre by acre slowly destroying this once beautiful city with a mountain view.

3 people like this
Posted by Citizen84
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 20, 2018 at 7:20 pm

Citizen84 is a registered user.

I just read through the comments and I smell a Russian conspiracy against our Democracy.

Surely, the extreme and dividing comments must be made by Russian trolls.

I am forwarding the printout of the discourse directly to Robert Mueller of the FBI. Let him sort it out and dispense the indictments to the participants.

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