If the Google Barge is coming to Stockton, the port director there would love to know about it.
Yesterday, CNET reported that Google's famous barge project may well be moving from its current home in San Francisco Bay to Stockton, a city at the far end of the San Francisco Bay Delta.
Google has been told by state regulators that it has to either move the barge project -- which has been sitting idle and unfinished alongside Treasure Island in the middle of the bay for months -- or acquire a permit to finish construction work. Last week, CNET reported that Google had told the Treasure Island Development Authority, which manages the lease for the pier where the barge is moored, that it would be moving on within 30 days.
But Port of Stockton Director Richard Aschieris said today that though he would "love to have" Google come to town, he's heard nothing from the technology giant about any such plans. Asked if Google could have such a move in the works without contacting his office, Ashieris said, "It's hard for me to speculate. I would imagine if they are planning to move...that there would have to be at least some sort of minimal planning."
The benefit of moving the barge project to Stockton is clear: It's outside the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the state agency that governs permitting for maritime projects in the bay. Ashieris said that the Port of Stockton is the only real authority Google would have to deal with if it came there. That's clearly a plus given that the barge project, expected to be a showroom and demonstration space for Google X projects and concepts like Glass and driverless cars, is thought to require a time-consuming interior redesign based on concerns raised by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Ashieris said the Port of Stockton is one of the biggest in California, handling more than $1 billion in cargo annually, and spanning 2,000 acres of property and more than 2 miles of dock space. He also said Google had recently had an expo in Stockton during which it was "exposing people that might not have otherwise been exposed to [various] technologies."
Google did not respond to a CNET request for comment.
So what is the company really planning? It's impossible to say at this point. Beyond speculation about Stockton, other Bay Area cities that have come up in various reports include Vallejo, Richmond, and Oakland. "My understanding," BCDC Executive Director Larry Goldzband told CNET yesterday, "is that...various people and organizations in the East Bay and the North Bay" have contacted Google.