Google campus could increase costs
A new report takes stock of concerns and opportunities surrounding Diridon Station
With Google expected to build a massive San Jose campus in the coming years, a new report takes stock of the project’s possible benefits like a revitalized downtown and its potential drawbacks — soaring housing costs and displaced residents.
The report, published by the city with input from a number of community organizations and residents, comes just weeks before Dec. 4, when the City Council is expected to approve the sale of some 20 acres of land near Diridon Station to the tech company.
Since February, nearly 40 people — including Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a business advocacy group that counts Google among its members and Maria Noel Fernandez of Silicon Valley Rising, an organization that has raised concerns about gentrification — have met monthly as part of an advisory group to discuss what the project could and should mean for the future of San Jose.
And while the 83-page document does not represent a list of the city’s priorities for the area in the coming decades or even a consensus, it provides a snapshot of how a wide-range of people and organizations who stand to be affected view the proposed redevelopment.
“The top issue is the fear of displacement from San Jose due to rising housing prices,” the report notes. “The top opportunity is for the revitalization of the Diridon area and expansion of the downtown.”
Even before the Google campus was proposed, the area around Diridon Station was set to transform dramatically with the possibility of high-speed rail connecting to the station and BART coming to San Jose.
The report will inform the city’s negotiations with Google, particularly as the company moves into the actual planning and development phase of the project.
Already, the report says, “the input gathered through the civic engagement process has been valuable in shaping Google’s initial design thinking and illuminating top community priorities.”
Predictably, housing and displacement topics dominated the advisory group’s discussions. Jobs, education and environmental concerns also came up.
The report indicates that participants generally agreed that there should be no displacement and no increase in homelessness as a result of the project. Whether that wish becomes a reality remains to be seen — already San Jose residents just south of the area say they have seen home prices rise on the announcement that Google is coming to town.
Participants also said that the increased economic opportunity Google could bring to San Jose should be open to all.
The report also included responses from an online survey, which generated a disproportionate number of responses from homeowners and white residents. The survey showed there was little agreement on some issues — for instance whether the city should acquire and preserve the affordability of apartment buildings in places most at risk of gentrification. But
many respondents agreed on other issues such as that the area should include publicly accessible parks and green space.
Initial plans suggest Google wants to build 6-8
million square feet of office and R&D space along with retail and other amenities on about 50 acres. The company has said the project could result in around 20,000 jobs.
The project isn’t a certainty yet. Google wants to buy a number of city-owned surface level parking lots around the SAP Center and the Sharks, whose fans park in the lots, have
pushed back. Already they have sued to preserve parking around the arena that would likely disappear as BART is extended toward Diridon.
Following the City Council’s
December vote, the development review process would likely begin in 2019 and take at least two years.
Aerial view of the area of Google’s proposed transit-oriented village near the Diridon Station, on the western edges of downtown San Jose in November of 2017.