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Richmond Wants To Be Next Home For Google Barge

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KPIX 5 hired a boat to get an up close view of a barge off Treasure Island believed to be a secret project by Google. (CBS)

KPIX 5 hired a boat to get an up close view of a barge off Treasure Island believed to be a secret project by Google. (CBS)

Allen-Martin_BIO-HEAD Allen Martin
Allen Martin anchors the KPIX 5 newscasts each weeknight at 5pm and ...
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RICHMOND (KPIX 5) – The Richmond City Council is expected to consider offering Google an invitation to use its docks for finishing construction on the Google Barge.

Google’s intention all along has been to finish it’s floating sales and party barge, then move it to various docks on San Francisco Bay or along the West Coast. Before any of the showcasing can happen, the tech giant has to either get a permit, start paying tens of thousands of dollars in fines in a couple of weeks, or take it’s barge elsewhere, possibly upriver.

By this time next month, the barge will have a new home, most likely outside San Francisco Bay. That’s because Google, so far, appears to be resisting the permit process required to build the barge in these waters.

“Google hasn’t applied for any permit to construct the barge,” said Larry Goldzband, Executive Director of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC.)

Goldzband said his agency informed Treasure Island officials almost a month ago that it didn’t have proper permits for the barge. In turn, the island’s development authority told KPIX 5 that Google is now saying it’s leaving the island and its $65,000 a month lease behind.

Where the barge ends up, remains to be seen.

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One port that would gladly welcome the Google Barge project is the City of Richmond. In fact, a city council member told KPIX 5 that with its rich World War II shipbuilding history, this is the perfect spot.

“We have resources here, we have piers and dry docks that are leftover from World War II, when Richmond was the largest shipbuilding place in the world,” said Richmond City Councilmember Tom Butt. “And we’re going to invite Google to come up here if they want to do it.”

There is one small wrinkle. Richmond also does not have the proper permit from the BCDC.

“We may have to get the right permit ourselves but we’re going to invite them. It doesn’t cost anything to ask,” Butt said.

The BCDC said Vallejo and Oakland have also expressed interest in getting the barge, and they would also need permits.

Then there is the idea floating around that Google would tow the barge to Stockton, outside of the jurisdiction of the BCDC.

“If the barge is simply going to be towed somewhere that’s not in the Bay or not in our jurisdiction, then it’s up to wherever jurisdiction it lands to do whatever permitting it’s going to do,” Goldzband said.

As for bringing the barge back to the Bay once it’s finished, Google would still need the necessary permits.

“What BCDC has told Google is that you need to get permits in order to make sure that you park the barge or moor the barge legally,” Goldzband said.

Google has not responded to KPIX 5’s request for comment on Tuesday. The company’s lease at Treasure Island runs through the end of July, which would mean paying a little more than a quarter million dollars if it leaves early.

As for a possible move to Stockton, the port’s director claims to not know anything about Google taking its barge there, outside of the speculation we have heard.

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