Living in Google’s parking lot

| September 17, 2014

Employee benefits at Google are so plush that a handful of staff have admitted to living at the company’s campus parking lot in Mountain View, CA. One employee even published a kind of “how-to” guide on the Quora thread that revealed the practice. “Kitchen is irrelevant,” wrote AJWR, a self-described “Full-Stack Developer, Family Man – Cyclist – Gamer.”

Trailer parked in wal-mart parking lot

Wal-Mart is famously tolerant of RVs and campers parking in its lots; apparently, so is Google. From Brave New Films.

Kitchens, typically a necessity for any residence, aren’t needed because Google provides its employees with three meals a day, along with on-site amenities, such as a gym, laundry facilities, and showers. Those perks have allowed staff to live in their cars easily, with some motivated by a desire to save money, particularly in light of the rental market in nearby San Francisco, where the average rent reached a record high of $3,057 per apartment this year. Indeed, one employee who lived at the parking lot for two to three years saved enough money to buy a house.

But not everyone has chosen to live at the lots because of finances. Former employee Matthew J. Weaver says he began living at the lot when his sublet in Berkeley ended and a friend dared him to live in an RV instead, which he did between July 2005 and August 2006.

“We would hold regular parties at the RV on Thursdays when the weather didn’t suck,” he told UK publisher MailOnline. “I had an astroturf lawn and white picket fence for a while.”

Staff mentioned that campus security stopped by occasionally but, after determining that the parking-lot residents were Google employees, left them alone. Weaver says that they even guarded his belongings when he wasn’t around.

While Google employees, who are paid living wages, can opt out of conventional housing, others aren’t so lucky. “There are people living on [part-time] jobs without electricity,” said Joyce Campbell, vice chair of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. “It’s like they have to say, ‘Which bills do I pay this month?’”

The death of Maria Fernandes last month provides a sad example. The 32-year-old Newark resident was working three part-time jobs at Dunkin Donuts at various locations and living out of her 2001 Kia Sportage. She pulled it over to a convenience store parking lot to nap after her overnight shift and was found dead several hours later. Fumes from the car apparently overcame her, said police.

“That’s the real face of the recession,” said Joseph Seneca, a professor of economics at Rutgers University, citing a statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: part-time employees make up roughly 5 percent of all workers in the US.

Fernandes’s death illustrates “the horrible, tragic circumstances of making those jobs work,” he said.

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Category: Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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