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Permits for Google’s Barges in San Francisco Bay Under Investigation

December 5, 2013 - Written By Jeremiah Nelson

Google’s barges in San Francisco Bay remain a mystery. Google isn’t telling anyone what they are, even with rumors swirling all around. The barge currently under construction in the bay is also under investigation. Larry Goldzband, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, said that the city is setting out to determine if the permits that Google has are all in order. This story from Reuters points to several things that California officials are looking into. “We want to make sure that the permits that are used by the owners of the pier actually allowed for construction to happen,” Larry Goldzband told Reuters. He said that this investigation is “a preliminary and formal enforcement investigation.”

Google is already in the process of making changes to the barge’s design that at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard. These changes are aimed at making sure the new barge construction is safe. Google is keeping all of this under wraps, however. Coast Guard and San Francisco officials have been asked by the Mountain View company to not speak about what is happening, on or around the barges. Officials have also been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in order to ensure that no word of what Google is doing leaks out. Google isn’t returning requests for comments, either. Coast Guard commander Jason Tama said that he could not comment on anything specific. He did say that the Coast Guard regularly inspects new construction to make sure that things are safe, and to make sure that all environmental and security procedures are being followed.

The barges are going to be made out of stacked shipping containers. The containers will be stacked four stories high and surrounded by sails. No one knows what they will be used for, although Google has mentioned that they will be “an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.What that means, exactly, is still up in the air. We first heard about the barges back in October. The documents that are on file in San Francisco use the term “artistic” and describe some sort of space that will be used to exhibit new technology. Other recent rumors point to $35 million floating retail stores.