Smart growth in demand: Google asks Mountain View, CA for mixed-use development

A great day at the Google HQ! by Flickr user Stuck in Customs

Technology megaplayer Google – known widely for attracting some of the most talented web developers in the world – is using its position as a large employer in a small city to encourage smart growth development.

In a letter to the City of Mountain View, CA, where the company has its headquarters, Google encouraged planners to pursue sustainable development strategies. Mountain View is currently working to update its strategy for development, and asked for public input on the decisions to be made.

In the letter Google VP David Radcliffe voiced the company’s support for “mixed-use development…along with the kind of land use development described in the Final Report by the Mountain View Environmental Sustainability Task Force.” The Task Force’s recommendations – which focus on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – would improve the quality of life for Google’s 20,000 Mountain View employees, Radcliffe explained, as well as help the city fiscally and for the long-term. From the company’s letter:

We would encourage you to provide opportunities for the North Bayshore area to continue to be the center of sustainable development for Google’s HQ campus…[and] the model Silicon Valley community – leading the way with visionary development opportunities to create the most efficient, sustainable and fiscally supportive plan to the community of Mountain View and the North Bayshore area.

Google’s support of innovative growth strategies is in line with President Obama’s State of the Union address in January. In that speech, the President emphasized that in order to stay competitive in a global, 21st century economy, America will have to invest strategically in innovative infrastructure projects that reduce our dependence on oil and spur economic growth. The Final Report of Mountain View’s Environmental Task Force reaches many of these same conclusions – advocating for a balance between jobs and housing, increased public transportation usage in the region, a green business certification system, a pedestrian master plan and preservation of open land among many, many other things.

While Mountain View’s primary intent is to reduce carbon emissions, in accordance with California’s planning laws, smart growth development strategies like these create many benefits for the community. Locating housing closer to jobs, schools and stores means stronger businesses, lower costs for the local government and a better economy too. Google is a prime example of how this can benefit large companies as well. By creating better housing and transportation options, Mountain View can help Google grow and be a beneficial member of its business community for years to come.

Trying to Lure Google? Better Have Mixed-Use, Walkable Development [Streetsblog, 3/15/11]
How to lure a mega-employer [scaledown, 3/14/11]
Google asks city to zone for housing near HQ [CNN Money, 2/18/10]
Mountain View Mulls A Googletopia [TechCrunch, 2/17/11]