Friday, November 22, 2013

The Google Barges and the Future of Land Use

 In both Portland, Maine and San Francisco, Google has constructed a series of large structures on off-shore barges.  A Google spokesman, says "Although it's still early days and things may change, we're exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."  Others believe that the barges will move to large coastal cities, where wealthy customers will have the opportunity to check out Google Glass, the Internet giant’s forthcoming computerized eyewear. One interesting twist is that Google's off-shore construction has helped it avoid both public scrutiny and local zoning rules.  Is this the future for our over-zoned cities?:

Google has been building a four-story structure in the heart of the San Francisco Bay for several weeks, but managed to conceal its purpose by constructing it on docked barges instead of on land, where city building permits and public plans are mandatory.
Until now, San Francisco city officials responsible for land use and state officials responsible for the bay have said they didn't know what was being built there. Coast Guard inspectors who visited the construction sites could not discuss what they saw. Lt. Anna Dixon said non-disclosure agreements were signed, but that those were not necessary, and that the Coast Guard, as a practice, doesn't share proprietary information it sees during inspections.

(HT: Sarah Schindler)

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