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Google threatens to block housing if it doesn’t get its way

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Don’t be evil

Rendering of a design submitted by Google for its Charles East development plan.
Rendering of a design submitted by Google for its Charles East development plan.
Rendering via Mountain View, Mercury News

Too many jobs and too few homes have resulted in a disastrous housing crisis in the Bay Area, especially in Silicon Valley where much-needed stock is often derailed. But the most recent example doesn’t come from politicos or baby boomers. This time it’s Google threatening to make a bad situation worse.

“In a standoff with city officials, Google is demanding more office space for its futuristic new ‘Charleston East’ campus and is threatening to block nearly 10,000 units of critically needed housing if it doesn’t get its way,” reports Ethan Baron of Bay Area News Group.

The city gave the tech mammoth preliminary approval to construct 9,850 homes (of which 1,600 would be affordable) in the North Bayshore development. But now Google wants 800,000 square feet of new office space in addition to the the “3.6 million contained in the draft North Bayshore plan.”

Rendering via Alphabet

More office space would offset the worker-to-housing ratio, which is already off kilter. (Mountain View holds the second-worst ratio for workers, with 2.7 workers for every housing unit, right behind Palo Alto’s dismal 3.8 workers per unit.) The company “would require 2,700 additional housing units on top of the 9,850.”

Now it’s up to Mountain View city officials to clear the way for even more office space for the tech giant.

Google plans to build an 18.6 acre expansion of its campus, including a 595,000-square-foot building designed by Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingles Group. Google never bothered before having signature, standout architecture. But after Apple Park and the Frank Gehry-designed Facebook headquarters cropped up, high-profile architecture has become a mark of stature in Silicon Valley.