Google has been taking heat for clogging San Francisco's housing supply with their employees. Now neighbors in their corporate hometown are grumbling that the company's $600 million real estate "shopping spree" will ruin the cozy suburb.
According to The Oakland Tribune, Google has bought up 24 office buildings around Mountain View since 2011. The buildings are mostly "nondescript and low-slung"—atypical purchases for the company. However, city officials are considering a zoning change around the Googleplex which would allow high-rise redevelopment of the properties.
[Commercial] real estate industry experts say the company is focusing its purchases in areas where the city is considering high-density development that would yield taller offices, expected to be five to 10 stories high.
And were Google able to redevelop just 20 of its sites with modern offices of 100,000 square feet each, that would be 2 million square feet of new space with room for 10,000 employees. That would be one-fourth of the estimated 39,000 people who work in downtown San Jose.
As one observer told the Tribune, "Mountain View is running out of land." There's no choice for Google but to build up.
Google's neighbors are not stoked with the upwards expansion. Fearing "expensive housing and clogged streets," Mountain View residents are already considering a ballot initiative to block high-rise growth.
If the city doesn't meet their wishes for balance in new jobs, homes and traffic, the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, a group that includes [the executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight], said it may pursue a referendum to reverse the looser development rules.
Efforts to block high-rise development have been successful in nearby San Francisco and Marin counties. If Google hopes to avoid a similar fate in Mountain View, they better start threatening to move to Cupertino now.