Google cam­pus could in­crease costs

A new re­port takes stock of con­cerns and op­por­tu­ni­ties sur­round­ing Diri­don Sta­tion

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Emily DeRuy ederuy@ba­yare­anews­

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.

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