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Google Barge Under The Microscope

At first it was a mystery to all: What was that large object under construction off Treasure Island? Then Google finally admitted this fall that it was building a large floating “interactive space” for high-tech products and services.

Then it was a mystery to various officials: Were the proper permits issued for the barge? Some commentators have suggested that Google was building the structures on barges — four stories of shipping containers connected together — to avoid the building permits and plans that would have been required if they were constructed on San Francisco land, and that, in turn, would have forced the company to disclose the barge’s intended purpose. However, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission began an investigation into the barge and its permits in early December. According to the commission, “It is necessary to obtain a BCDC permit prior to undertaking most work in the bay or within 100 feet of the shoreline, including filling, dredging, shoreline development and other work.”

Adding to Google’s workload was an effort by the U.S. Coast Guard to review the barge (one of several built by the company at different locations), which shut down work on the barge. The project was then put on “hiatus” lasting possibly until late spring to allow Google to meet requirements by the Coast Guard for certain design changes.

According to documents received by the San Francisco Chronicle, the barge, when completed, is intended to dock for up to a month at various Bay Area locations, including Fort Mason.

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