Google Development Ambitions Strain Relationship with Mountain View

By Alex Girda, Associate Editor Google has brought many good things to its hometown of Mountain View. But the Bay Area might have had enough. Google was highly criticized by local officials for its plans to build several bridges over a creek that [...]

Google has brought many good things to its hometown of Mountain View. But the Bay Area might have had enough. Google was highly criticized by local officials for its plans to build several bridges over a creek that separates its current campus and a newly leased lot. That was the breaking point in what has been a seemingly fruitful partnership. Google now plans to construct around 1.2 million square feet of buildings on the newly leased land, which would include recreation facilities, corporate housing as well as several offices, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The flak over the bridges came about because it necessitated moving public trails used by area commuters and outdoor enthusiasts. Google assured city officials that the trails would remain open to the public, and the officials ultimately opted to raise the topic for discussion at a later meeting.

The proposed construction on the new lot has also hit some speed bumps, but of greater concern for officials is the technology giant’s future plans. Some buildings Google owns in Mountain View are to be torn down and the land redeveloped with denser, corporate housing-oriented buildings. That doesn’t sound too good to city council members such as Laura Marcias, who was quoted by the WSJ as saying that such a move would change the layout of the area, which is currently reliant on its wildlife-oriented appeal. She added that the city may not be open to developing land to the extent of Google’s intentions.

The Internet company currently leases or owns more than 4 million square feet of office space in Mountain View, but the city is ready to push legislation regarding land use for the entire area. Several of Google’s proposed developments would entail zoning requirement changes. The city currently receives $9.5 million in annual property tax from the Web company alone. It also provides free wireless Internet service to the city and its 75,000 residents, as well as $1 million for local school funding. This successful partnership could enter a new phase, considering the recent blowback, with Google’s 10,000-person roster and development plans in Mountain View continually increasing.