San Francisco's war against Google continued today with the news that the company's weird "mystery" barge, a four-story floating "interactive space" docked off the city's Treasure Island, will have to set sail.
The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission ruled that the barge's construction was never authorized. Apparently in the habit of letting Google do whatever it wants, neither the Treasure Island Development Authority nor the city of San Francisco (whose officials admitted they didn't even know what the barge's purpose was) applied for the necessary permits, subjecting them to "fines and enforcement proceedings," according to the AP. Google will now have to move the barge to a construction facility that has the right permits.
The BCDC began its barge investigation in December after receiving several complaints, possibly from the same groups that have been protesting its unregulated private employee shuttles that use public bus stops for free (until July, when a new law will require they pay one dollar per stop). While San Francisco the city may be content to let Google be Google, but many of its residents are not.
The Treasure Island Development Authority is currently trying to get the right permits and told the AP: "we did not intend to violate or circumvent the process."
This isn't the first time Google has benefited from a government agency's accidental oversight, as the Guardian pointed out: some of its executives fly in private planes that ran on discounted fuel purchased from NASA. The company saved millions this way. The Coast Guard also signed non-disclosure agreements with Google before performing inspections of the barge "as a courtesy," a Coast Guard spokeswoman told CNET. She added: "The Coast Guard typically doesn't sign non-disclosure agreements." Just another perk of being Google!
Google told the Guardian that it is currently "reviewing" the BCDC's letter.