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Passionate for perfection WEEKEND | P.16 JULY 9, 2010 VOLUME 18, NO. 27 650.964.6300 INSIDE: MOVIES | PAGE 19 A car-less Googletopia in the works? A UNIQUE VISION COALESCES FOR GOOGLE’S NEIGHBORHOOD By Daniel DeBolt I magine a futuristic bayfront enclave for Google and Microsoft employees where no cars are allowed, buildings have green roofs and no carbon footprint, people travel in automated pods and live in apartments among the office buildings. That is a vision that shimmered before City Council members and planning commissioners during a brainstorming session June 28 about how the city and Google could create a futuristic campus worthy of the company’s avant-garde reputation. Google’s headquarters dominates the area north of Highway 101 known as “North Bayshore” and the city is updating that neighborhood’s blueprint for future development in what is known as the city’s general plan update. A car-less future? “What if we just didn’t have cars” in North Bayshore? said council member Laura Macias. “What if we found a way to do it without that? We’re all going to find a way to drive, if we can. But See GOOGLETOPIA, page 9 MICHELLE LE. Robert Baertsch, vice president of software engineering for Unimodal, shows off a SkyTran pod prototype at NASA Ames Research Center. Assessed property values plummet ASSESSOR: BIGGEST DROP SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION By Daniel DeBolt S ERIC LAWSON Ben Porter, left, is defended by Peter Hargreaves while practicing with the U.S. Men’s National Kayak Polo team at Shoreline Lake on Saturday, June 26. Roll with it: U.S. kayak polo team preps By Emily Hamilton A bicyclist riding by Shoreline Lake on Saturday, June 26, saw several men in kayaks wearing blue and white uniforms, stationed between two nets suspended above the water, and he couldn’t help but say aloud, “What the hell are they playing?” INSIDE He had stumbled upon the practice of the United States Men’s Kayak Polo team. The team is practicing at Shoreline in preparation for the world championships in Milan this September. The biker’s surprise was not uncommon, as most people in the United States have likely never heard of the sport. Coach Sergey Finkelstein says the sport is more popular in Europe and the Pacific than in the U.S. “This sport is played on every continent,” says Finkelstein, who is originally from Latvia. “In the United States, we are trying to develop it.” See KAYAK POLO, page 8 GOINGS ON 20 | MARKETPLACE 21 | REAL ESTATE 24 | VIEWPOINT 13 anta Clara County’s assessed property values fared better during much of the Great Depression than they did last year, tax assessor Larry Stone announced July 1. For the first time since the 1930s, the county saw an actual drop in assessed property values. Stone is reporting a “distressing” 2.43 percent drop from January 2009 to January 2010 county-wide. Mountain View’s assessed values declined by 2.9 percent in total, worse than average. Palo Alto was the only city to see assessed values increase, at a meager .4 percent. The only other year more worrisome was 1933, when assessed property values declined in the county by 3.19 percent, Stone said. “From my point of view, this is far worse than I expected,” Stone said. Just a month ago when the county’s cities were preparing their budgets, Stone told cities to expect only a two-percent drop to be reported countywide. An additional one-half percent might not seem like big news, but “when you are dealing with a $300 billion assessment, that’s not a small number.” Of particular concern in Mountain View is a 25.2 percent decrease in the valuation of business personal property — which includes things like furniture, computers and other equipment — in the city’s redevelopment areas. That compares to a decrease of only 8 percent county-wide and an increase of 1.1 percent in Mountain View’s non-redevelopment areas. “There must be some lost business, some businesses that moved out, maybe,” Stone said of Mountain View’s two redevelopment areas, which include Google’s Shoreline neighborhood and much of downtown. Stone blamed the decline in property values on the county’s “soaring unemployment rate.” Similarly, the number of businesses in the county decreased by 8.2 percent during 2009, from 46,000 to 42,000. V

Mountain View Voice 07.09.2010 - Section 1

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