Google barge to leave San Francisco Bay for new home, still unfinished

Google’s San Francisco-based barge is back in the news, with the four-story floating building reportedly about to embark on an 80-mile journey from Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay to Stockton in a bid to escape a $30,000 fine.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which manages the bay waters, said earlier this month that the Web giant needed a permit to carry out construction work on the vessel if it stayed in its current location, and gave it until March 7 to get one.

With the deadline fast approaching, and Google so far having failed to obtain a permit, Cnet reports that the Mountain View company has decided to sail it out of BCDC waters to Stockton to avoid being hit with the fine.

Of course, $30,000 is the sort of small change it could find down the back of its Googleplex sofas, so it’s more likely the company wants to be seen to be sticking to the rules, thereby steering clear of any bad press with its barge, especially at a time when relations with many residents in the area are, to put it mildly, a little strained.

However, adding to the sense of mystery that has surrounded Google’s barge from day one, the Stockton Record said Thursday that the director of the Port of Stockton has heard nothing from Google about the supposed move, despite widespread media reports that it’ll soon be coming his way.

Port director Richard Aschieris told the Record, “There is no agreement and there have been no discussions,” though he added he would “love” to see the barge in Stockton.

Wherever it ends up, Google will likely want to get the thing finished soon as it’s been doing little more than simply bobbing up and down ever since the US Coast Guard and the BCDC began investigating it late last year.

According to a spokesperson for the Web company, the construction, which is made up of dozens of shipping containers, will be used as “an interactive space” for showcasing Google tech, such as Glass and its driverless car. Design documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle in November indicate the glorified showroom will be surrounded by 10 enormous sails “reminiscent of fish fins,” with the overall look described by its designers as an “unprecedented artistic structure….with a bit of nautical whimsy.” There’ll be a party deck, too.

The $35 million floating project, which is expected to return to San Francisco Bay once its finished, could be ready to accept its first visitors in “late spring,” though the exact opening date is still – not surprisingly – something of a mystery.

[Image: Gizmodo Australia]

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