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Print 21 comment(s) - last by Lerianis.. on Feb 10 at 7:15 PM

SF asks Google to move mystery barge; Google is building an identical structure aboard a barge on the East Coast

After receiving "multiple complaints" from residents, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (SF-BCDC) has investigated an under-construction four-story Google barge. The findings state that Google Inc. (GOOG) needs to move or get rid of the floating monstrosity, which was built without the proper permits.
 
I. What's up With Google's Floating Monstrosity?
 
Google has long been rumored to use floating data centers; some believed the barge might be doubling as a floating data center for Android devices, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables (e.g. smartwatches and Google Glass Explorer Edition).
 
Last year, Google clarified the barge's purpose:

Google Barge ... A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above.  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.

The barge is apparently an attempt by Google to obfuscate its upcoming building.  By building the multi-story structure at sea aboard a barge, it can avoid having to get local building permits, which could tip its plans prematurely.

Google mystery barge
One of two Google mystery barge-buildings is seen here. [Image Source: Getty Images]

Secrets and confusion aside, it is clear that there was some disconnect between the city and Google.  Google never received permission, according to the SF-BCDC, to do the construction.  But apparently the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) -- a Bay Area development authority tasked with creating business for the Bay's former naval station-turned-civilian business hub -- gave Google an official go-ahead on the project.  With the TIDA's blessing Google appears to have built, or mostly built its proposal.
 
II. Secret Building/Barge Must be Moved, City Says
 
It's not entirely “game over” for the troubled barge project.  The SF-BCDC says that Google can move the barge to another fully permitted construction facility.
 
The latest development, however, is the barge's second setback.  Last year the Coast Guard order construction temporarily halted after they found that Google and the TIDA lacked certain necessary permits.  Google reportedly asked members of the Coast Guard to sign nondisclosure agreements before boarding.



Local, state, and federal agencies often add a bureaucratic nightmare on top of an already inherently challenging construction process when it comes to large ships.  Builders have to navigate a complex maze of federal agencies, state agencies, and local agencies.  As the San Francisco incident illustrates, even if you get the permission of one local agency (e.g. TIDA, in this case), you may find work halted if a superior local agency disagrees with the lesser agency's rulings (SF-BCDC). 
 
These sorts of jurisdiction battles are perhaps an apt microcosm of the ineptitude and frustrations of the modern U.S. political machine.

San Francisco
You could say San Francisco wants Google to barge out of Treasure Island. [Image Source: AP]

But like it or not, the SF-BCDC says Google's craft has to move to an approved construction site.  In fact, the commission was Google to barge out, so to speak.  The commission's executive director Larry Goldzband comments:

It needs to move.

The Guardian reports that Google built a second, identical building aboard a barge in New London, Connecticut.  That building has since been towed to Portland, Maine.
 
Google last year announced plans for a museum and private demo space dubbed the "Google Experience Center", which is a planned expansion for the Googleplex -- the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.  It is possible one of the barge buildings is this announced building, or these buildings may be additional, somewhat similar facilities.

Sources: ABC News, USA Today, The Guardian



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...because civilization would end...
By zozzlhandler on 2/3/2014 7:55:33 PM , Rating: 3
...if we allowed anyone to do anything without the proper permits, bribes, what-have-you.




RE: ...because civilization would end...
By Reclaimer77 on 2/3/2014 8:01:17 PM , Rating: 3
Welcome to what's killing American employment and increasing outsourcing. Miles and miles of glorious red tape.

If a gigantic company like Google, with a high-paid legal department and connections that would make your head spin, cannot even get all the necessary permits and permissions to do business; what chance does a small business owner have today?


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By someguy123 on 2/3/2014 9:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
The article implies that google avoided the necessary red tape as to avoid leaking the existence of their building before the planned reveal. Google asked the bay's business development authority if they could park a boat there but they didn't ask for a construction permit. You can't deny someone something they didn't ask for.

Plus it looks like they're fine either way. They just have to move it.


By Al Jalaikakik on 2/9/2014 10:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
They should move it... AND their headquarters. It's time for Silicon Valley to make a mass exodus from California.


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By Noya on 2/4/2014 2:35:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
killing American employment and increasing outsourcing. Miles and miles of glorious red tape

If a gigantic company like Google, with a high-paid legal department and connections that would make your head spin, cannot even get all the necessary permits and permissions to do business; what chance does a small business owner have today?


I agree there's too many rules and regs for a small businesses...

...but get real, it's all about cheap labor to maximize profits. Just ask Apple, Wal-Mart, etc. Go back a few hundred years and ask the plantation owners. Go back 140 years and ask the Chinese building the railroads.

This is how it's always been (aside from that golden hiccup of the postwar boom). Even here in America since the 50's when we were importing Mexicans to work the postwar industrial farms, then the 80's amnesty so they could work every facet of monotonous, low-paying, labor intensive jobs that has made fat cats even fatter (farming, food production, fast-food, construction, etc).


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By Ammohunt on 2/4/2014 1:46:35 PM , Rating: 1
Utter nonsense! What fool makes a career out of a minimum wage job besides hippies that need just enough cash to score their next dimebag? You work a low wage i.e. entry level job to either climb the ladder of that company or get the experience/training you need to get a better paying job. Illegal immigrants of the past worked jobs under the table that's why the get such crappy pay.


By Reclaimer77 on 2/4/2014 2:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly? Why don't more people get this stuff!?


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By GotThumbs on 2/5/2014 12:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
Google's biggest mistake....... was building it in California.

I say they should move it outside of California to some other west coast state (and take the job creation with them).

Or if there is any available Canadian shipyard in Vancouver.

California is such a backward state IMO.

No way would I ever consider moving there or taking a job...even if it was double the rate.

IMO. California is it's own worst enemy.

~Best wishes keeping what you earned.


By JediJeb on 2/5/2014 3:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No way would I ever consider moving there or taking a job...even if it was double the rate.


If you did double the rate you would get in most other states, it would still be like taking a 50% cut in pay once you moved to California and started paying their higher taxes and all other higher cost of living there.

My small house and 3 acres in Ky that I paid $42K for, would be worth 10x that in California, for no reason at all.


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 6:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
California is the technology center of the nation though. I hate it, but that's why companies like Google have to set up shop there.


By Al Jalaikakik on 2/9/2014 10:31:30 PM , Rating: 2
It's only the technology center of the nation as long as the technology leading companies tolerate it.


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By SAN-Man on 2/4/2014 4:46:40 PM , Rating: 1
Take a look at Haiti after their quake and then reconsider your stupid argument - FYI, anyone can build whatever they want.dd


RE: ...because civilization would end...
By ppardee on 2/4/2014 6:07:17 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference between building to code and simply not being allowed to build without a permit. I need a permit to add a concrete slab and a gazebo in my back yard. There is no danger of earthquake here, but they do want to take my money. It's an issue of control, not public safety.


By Reclaimer77 on 2/4/2014 6:54:37 PM , Rating: 2
Agree.

The newest cash cow is requiring home owners, by law, to pull permits for simple things like replacing a light fixture in their own home.

We're being crushed by Government at every turn.


By Lerianis on 2/10/2014 7:12:19 PM , Rating: 2
In some cases, yes, it would be. You would have businesses building buildings that they KNOW would not survive the first strong winter storm or summer storm.

Permits are in place for a damned good reason in the real world, because we have learned through hard experience that you cannot trust these bastards further than you can lob the moon.


Location, location, location
By GotThumbs on 2/5/2014 1:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
Google made the big mistake of not going to a business friendly states.

Texas or Florida would have been a smarter choice IMO.

I'd say lesson learned for Google, but only time will tell.

~Best wishes on keeping what you earned.




RE: Location, location, location
By Lerianis on 2/10/2014 7:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
Don't you really mean OVERLY business friendly? Because Texas and Florida have been allowing businesses to do whatever the f' they want and it has been costing them and the rest of the United States.

Bottom line is that we live in something called a S O C I E T Y.... therefore being 'friendly to business' is a bad idea in the real world.

Government should be, at best, neutral towards business.


we've already got one
By lagomorpha on 2/3/2014 7:08:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
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.


Given this is Google I picture some sort of cross between Epcot and George Orwell's 1984 Land.




Water is cheaper than land
By Fox5 on 2/4/2014 9:07:02 AM , Rating: 2
Looks like Google crunched the numbers and realized building their own convention center at sea is cheaper than building/using one that's on land.




Skynet
By km9v on 2/4/2014 11:37:00 AM , Rating: 2
It has begun!




By Wombat_56 on 2/4/2014 8:28:23 PM , Rating: 2
The thing is huge.

Are they planning to leave it on the barge when it's finished or move it to land? That last option would not be easy.




"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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