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Google must move ‘mystery’ barge, California says

A California state agency says Google must move its mystery barge, seen here Oct. 29, 2013, from a construction site on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. (Associated Press)
A California state agency says Google must move its mystery barge, seen here Oct. 29, 2013, from a construction site on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. (Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO – Google must move a mystery barge from a construction site on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay because the permits are not in order, a state official said Monday.

The notice came after the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission investigated numerous complaints about construction of the floating, four-story building, commission Executive Director Larry Goldzband said.

The investigation found that neither the Treasure Island Development Authority nor the city of San Francisco had applied for required permits for the work to be done at the site and could face fines and enforcement proceedings.

Goldzband said Google can resolve the issue by moving the barge to one of the fully permitted construction facilities in the San Francisco Bay.

“It needs to move,” he said.

Google Inc. said it is still reviewing a letter from Goldzband outlining the commission’s concerns about the secretive project.

The Treasure Island Development Authority is leasing the space to build the barge for $79,000 per month under a contract set to expire in August, according to agency records.

Mirian Saez, director of the Treasure Island Development Authority, said, “we did not intend to violate or circumvent the process.”

The authority will try to apply for the correct permits with the commission, she said, noting her agency has not spoken to Google about the issue.

For now, though, Google’s barge appears to be mired in regulatory limbo. Goldzband said Google representatives had told him construction had been halted on the barge late last year so the U.S. Coast Guard can ensure the vessel will meet its standards.

“My understanding is they are going to be in a holding pattern until the end of winter,” Goldzband said. “What we are strongly suggesting is that this thing is moved in an expeditious manner so when they want to start building again, they can build it lawfully at a place where it is permitted.”

Google has been vague about the plans for the San Francisco barge or a similar vessel off the East Coast.

Preliminary planning documents submitted to the port last fall showed plans for Google to build an interactive space for people to learn about technology as it traveled from dock to dock.



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