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Google's North Bayshore megaproject could take 30 years to build

Google is proposing thousands of homes in Mountain View's North Bayshore district, though it's going to take decades to come to fruition. Courtesy Google.

Mountain View's largest development proposal to construct 7,000 new homes alongside 3 million square feet of offices is expected to take decades to finish, with some of the earliest phases slated to be complete by 2030 at the soonest.

Google, which is spearheading the redevelopment of 127 acres of North Bayshore is requesting a 30-year development agreement in order to manage the massive scale of the project. The current plan is to space out construction into eight phases, with close to 3,000 homes planned for the first two rounds of development.

Every aspect of the North Bayshore Master Plan is on a large scale. The 7,000 homes will include 1,400 affordable housing units -- close to doubling the number of below market rate units citywide -- and 31 acres will be turned into public parks. The project also cranks up office development by an additional 1.3 million square feet.

Though Google is subject to strict caps on parking in order to curb the use of cars in the future urban district, a proposed garage outside Shoreline Amphitheatre will have 4,330 parking spaces.

Google's proposed community benefit package is anchored exclusively in North Bayshore, committing $42 million to pay for transportation upgrades and the creation of the area's so-called "eco gem," a large conservation area to preserve natural habitat and ecology in an area that will soon be packed with high-density housing and offices.

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Mountain View's Environmental Planning Commission largely supported the plans in a meeting last week, praising the project for adhering closely to the city's vision for North Bayshore as a mixed-use set of neighborhoods built in close proximity to offices. Jeff Hosea, Google's lead urban planner, said the master plan makes good on that vision, replacing what he described as a "car-centric, single-use destination" ripe for something new.

"That vision of tomorrow starts with the North Bayshore of today being predominantly single-story office buildings surrounded by a sea of parking lots that just do nothing but house cars," Hosea said.

Google's North Bayshore Master Plan encompasses more than 100 acres of North Bayshore, concentrated between Space Park Way to the south and Charleston Road to the north. Courtesy city of Mountain View.

Development will begin on the east side of Shoreline Boulevard between Charleston Road and Space Park Way, frontloaded with the demolition of existing offices and the construction of 2,912 housing units, according to a city staff report. Hosea said the "optimistic" plan is to have those first two phases done by late 2030 or 2031.

Commission member Hank Dempsey said there's a lot to like about the plans, and that he was impressed with the thoughtful layout and design of Google's vision for North Bayshore.

"It's very easy to find things to quibble with and there is always something we can change, but the most important message is that I'm really excited about this," Dempsey said. "I just wish it wasn't going to take so long."

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Housing advocates and trade union representatives also gave a strong endorsement for the proposal during the Nov. 17 meeting, with Kat Wortham of the Housing Action Coalition calling these large-scale residential projects the "best way" Mountain View and the greater Bay Area can dig itself out of the housing crisis. She encouraged the city to carefully consider what kinds of fees it requires from Google to move forward, and that development should be encouraged and not hindered by high costs.

"We don't want to see nothing get built," she said.

Another eye-popping number in Google's master plan is how many trees need to be removed to make way for new buildings and new roadways that will redefine North Bayshore. A grand total of 2,586 trees will need to be removed, according to city staff, or roughly two-thirds of all the trees in the master plan area. Many of them are large, mature redwood trees covering large swaths of the tech park, including large roadway medians and surrounding single-story offices.

Trees line both sides of Joaquin Road in Mountain View on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The trees will be removed in many small phases and replaced with more diverse plants over the coming decades, Hosea said, but the existing redwood trees simply don't fit in with much of the master plan. They are not native, some are in poor health, and they conflict with the planned roadway changes.

"When we start adding bike lanes, wider sidewalks and you want the pedestrian experience to be correct, the redwoods don't match that," he said.

In order to ease the blow of losing the large trees, Google is already planting trees in southern Santa Clara County to prepare them for transplanting into North Bayshore, giving them years to grow in order to ease the sudden loss of tree canopy.

Commission members largely agreed with Google's tree strategy, describing the mass removal of trees as a necessary consequence of the massive scale of the project and the existing conditions in North Bayshore. Commissioner Preeti Hehmeyer said the master plan goes out of its way to preserve and transplant trees when possible, but a project of this size is going to have "real implications" for the existing canopy.

"It is heartbreaking to know a lot of the existing trees that do define that area will not be where they are, but it's in service for a greater vision for the understory, for greater canopy and overall improvements to North Bayshore," she said.

The Mountain View City Council will take another look at the project proposal on Dec. 14, followed by another design review some time in Spring 2022.

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Google's North Bayshore megaproject could take 30 years to build

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 1:25 pm

Mountain View's largest development proposal to construct 7,000 new homes alongside 3 million square feet of offices is expected to take decades to finish, with some of the earliest phases slated to be complete by 2030 at the soonest.

Google, which is spearheading the redevelopment of 127 acres of North Bayshore is requesting a 30-year development agreement in order to manage the massive scale of the project. The current plan is to space out construction into eight phases, with close to 3,000 homes planned for the first two rounds of development.

Every aspect of the North Bayshore Master Plan is on a large scale. The 7,000 homes will include 1,400 affordable housing units -- close to doubling the number of below market rate units citywide -- and 31 acres will be turned into public parks. The project also cranks up office development by an additional 1.3 million square feet.

Though Google is subject to strict caps on parking in order to curb the use of cars in the future urban district, a proposed garage outside Shoreline Amphitheatre will have 4,330 parking spaces.

Google's proposed community benefit package is anchored exclusively in North Bayshore, committing $42 million to pay for transportation upgrades and the creation of the area's so-called "eco gem," a large conservation area to preserve natural habitat and ecology in an area that will soon be packed with high-density housing and offices.

Mountain View's Environmental Planning Commission largely supported the plans in a meeting last week, praising the project for adhering closely to the city's vision for North Bayshore as a mixed-use set of neighborhoods built in close proximity to offices. Jeff Hosea, Google's lead urban planner, said the master plan makes good on that vision, replacing what he described as a "car-centric, single-use destination" ripe for something new.

"That vision of tomorrow starts with the North Bayshore of today being predominantly single-story office buildings surrounded by a sea of parking lots that just do nothing but house cars," Hosea said.

Development will begin on the east side of Shoreline Boulevard between Charleston Road and Space Park Way, frontloaded with the demolition of existing offices and the construction of 2,912 housing units, according to a city staff report. Hosea said the "optimistic" plan is to have those first two phases done by late 2030 or 2031.

Commission member Hank Dempsey said there's a lot to like about the plans, and that he was impressed with the thoughtful layout and design of Google's vision for North Bayshore.

"It's very easy to find things to quibble with and there is always something we can change, but the most important message is that I'm really excited about this," Dempsey said. "I just wish it wasn't going to take so long."

Housing advocates and trade union representatives also gave a strong endorsement for the proposal during the Nov. 17 meeting, with Kat Wortham of the Housing Action Coalition calling these large-scale residential projects the "best way" Mountain View and the greater Bay Area can dig itself out of the housing crisis. She encouraged the city to carefully consider what kinds of fees it requires from Google to move forward, and that development should be encouraged and not hindered by high costs.

"We don't want to see nothing get built," she said.

Another eye-popping number in Google's master plan is how many trees need to be removed to make way for new buildings and new roadways that will redefine North Bayshore. A grand total of 2,586 trees will need to be removed, according to city staff, or roughly two-thirds of all the trees in the master plan area. Many of them are large, mature redwood trees covering large swaths of the tech park, including large roadway medians and surrounding single-story offices.

The trees will be removed in many small phases and replaced with more diverse plants over the coming decades, Hosea said, but the existing redwood trees simply don't fit in with much of the master plan. They are not native, some are in poor health, and they conflict with the planned roadway changes.

"When we start adding bike lanes, wider sidewalks and you want the pedestrian experience to be correct, the redwoods don't match that," he said.

In order to ease the blow of losing the large trees, Google is already planting trees in southern Santa Clara County to prepare them for transplanting into North Bayshore, giving them years to grow in order to ease the sudden loss of tree canopy.

Commission members largely agreed with Google's tree strategy, describing the mass removal of trees as a necessary consequence of the massive scale of the project and the existing conditions in North Bayshore. Commissioner Preeti Hehmeyer said the master plan goes out of its way to preserve and transplant trees when possible, but a project of this size is going to have "real implications" for the existing canopy.

"It is heartbreaking to know a lot of the existing trees that do define that area will not be where they are, but it's in service for a greater vision for the understory, for greater canopy and overall improvements to North Bayshore," she said.

The Mountain View City Council will take another look at the project proposal on Dec. 14, followed by another design review some time in Spring 2022.

Comments

Leslie Bain
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Nov 23, 2021 at 2:43 pm
Leslie Bain, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 2:43 pm

When will the 1,400 affordable housing units be built? In 30 years?

Also this is quite interesting:

"Though Google is subject to strict caps on parking in order to curb the use of cars in the future urban district, a proposed garage outside Shoreline Amphitheatre will have 4,330 parking spaces."

Compare and contrast with the following:

"James Kuszmaul, a member of the group Mountain View YIMBY, emphasized that the plan explicitly calls out parking and driving as a "cost" to the community, and that Mountain View ought to take active measures to remove parking when demand comes down. Adding more parking simply encourages more people to use a car, he said, and the city should not be building expensive new parking infrastructure.

David Watson, also a member of Mountain View YIMBY, suggested that downtown commercial development should no longer face a mandate to build parking, which sends the wrong message that more parking is needed. He also made a pitch for paid parking, and said it can be used sparingly based on demand." - Web Link

When will the proposed garage be built? Is this the only garage to be built for the entire project? And will it be paid parking?

I have encountered many YIMBYs who are hostile to the creation of parking in residential areas. They want "housing for people, not for cars". It will be interesting to see if they protest the new Google garage ... I'm betting that they won't, though.


Ellen Wheeler
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Nov 23, 2021 at 3:54 pm
Ellen Wheeler, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 3:54 pm

Where is the elementary school in this map? And where is the "eco gem"?


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Nov 23, 2021 at 4:01 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Leslie, I'll take your bet. How much? From my conversations with YIMBY and NIMBYs, I will confidently state that the YIMBYs will oppose anyone being forced to build parking spaces.


Kevin Forestieri
Registered user
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Nov 23, 2021 at 4:11 pm
Kevin Forestieri, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 4:11 pm

@Ellen Wheeler

The master plan shows the Eco Gem is located north of Charleston Road just west of Stevens Creek. It also provides four acres of public open space just north of Santiago Villa in an area called "Shorebird Yards," which will be dedicated to the city to "allow for a potential partnership with MVWSD for a school at this location."

The map quality is not stellar, but you can see it here: Web Link


Ellen Wheeler
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Nov 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm
Ellen Wheeler, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

I appreciate your responsiveness, Kevin Forestieri. Your comment and link are very helpful.


Raymond
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Nov 23, 2021 at 10:02 pm
Raymond , Monta Loma
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Oh, good.
I'll be dead by the time traffic on San Antonio comes to total stop.
So will the clowns who voted to permit this overbuilding of MV.


Mark
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Nov 24, 2021 at 6:04 am
Mark, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Nov 24, 2021 at 6:04 am

Hopefully by that time, Google will have been disemboweled by the antitrust laws and a dozen other causes.


Alexander
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Nov 24, 2021 at 1:18 pm
Alexander, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Nov 24, 2021 at 1:18 pm

30 years is a long time, but I'm looking forward to this development. The new housing stock will likely attract a lot of Google employees, who won't have to commute and won't keep pushing up existing housing prices. So traffic would decrease and existing residents won't be forced out by rising prices. Plenty of affordable units will also help keep residents in secure housing and not forced into RVs or other alternatives.

Of course, the whole Bay is likely to continue to become more congested and expensive, because not enough cities are taking these measures. But I'm happy Mountain View is leading here.

That said, I don't really understand the parking plan here. I'd like to learn more about it, if anyone in the comments knows of any links?


SWAN song
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Nov 25, 2021 at 7:24 am
SWAN song, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Nov 25, 2021 at 7:24 am

Alexander, I don't know all the details, but the 4,330 parking spaces aren't all new spaces. A lot of them are the existing spaces that are shifted over to the garage when the current buildings are torn down. The new buildings have practically no parking at them, and all their parking is at this garage. I can't tell how much of the parking is "new" vs just "moved," but some back-of-the-envelope math leads me to think most of it is just moved.


Seth Neumann
Registered user
Waverly Park
6 hours ago
Seth Neumann, Waverly Park
Registered user
6 hours ago

we're not going to be able to build out way out of our housing shortage, even in 30 years. Why are we permitting new office space to be built? More office space means more good jobs here = more highly paid people bidding up housing prices. Let's discourage job creation in the Bay Area until housing is in some kind of balance (e.g. when teachers and cops etc can afford to live here at market rates). If Texas, Colorado or Idaho want those jobs, encourage the large companies to build and hire there.


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