Google ‘holds council to ransom’ over housing

Artist impression of the proposed Google campusGoogle – the search engine giant without whom we would all be lost – is holding a local council to ransom over a housing development, according to reports.

The tech giant wants to build a massive new campus in the North Bayshore area of Mountain View, a city in Silicon Valley, California where they already have a huge presence.

But now they are threatening to back out of plans to build 9,850 homes in North Bayshore unless city officials allow them to build another 80,000 square metres of office space on top of their initial agreed proposal.

The local Mercury News reports that the Mountain View City Council is in a standoff with the company after Google warned that it would drop housing from the project if it doesn’t get its way.

If the development goes ahead, it would include nearly 10,000 homes, 335,000 sq m of office space, and a public park.

“Just to be clear: no new office; no new housing,” Joe Van Belleghem, senior director of design and construction for the Bay Area at Google, reportedly told city officials.

“Forgetting the issue that Google has loads of cash, my view on that is that … our North Bayshore plan shouldn’t make the jobs-housing imbalance appreciably worse,” says Mountain View Vice-Mayor Lenny Siegel.

He explained that the San Francisco Bay Area has too many workers and not enough housing, causing home prices and rents to soar. Google’s critics say that adding even more office space without additional housing would worsen the housing crisis.

“We are supportive of the preliminary approval of a North Bay Shore precise plan which includes 9,850 units of housing, 1,600 of which would be affordable,” Belleghem said.

The Mountain View City Council will vote on the final plan next month.

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