Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

Google, the largest property owner in Silicon Valley, is in the midst of acquiring 40 acres of city-owned land in San Jose, California, to build a new campus. The property is near San Jose’s SAP Center indoor arena and Diridon train station, and could bring as many as 20,000 jobs to the city over the next 10 to 12 years. The city residents are torn between those who feel that an influx of Google employees will making already-expensive housing even less affordable and those who point out that Google’s presence will bring growth and jobs.

Bloomberg reports that San Jose hosted “the first of nine civic meetings” on the Google proposal, and that 38 representatives from local groups “were each asked to name their hopes and fears for the project,” which one resident dubbed “Googleville.”

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Google has said that, “the public’s input will be important in helping to shape the development.” Concerns include a lack of affordable housing and traffic. According to the Institute for Regional Studies, “the Bay Area led California and the nation with an inflation-adjusted gain in gross domestic product of 5.2 percent in 2016, more than three times faster than the national growth rate.”

Housing, however, according to the National Association of Realtors, is the most expensive in the country, and “homelessness is soaring.”

Last month, San Jose City Council approved nine parcels to be sold for $67 million that would be part of the project; the price on the 40 acres near the Diridon Station “hasn’t yet been determined and the entire process, including the public meetings, would take at least a year to conclude, while the project wouldn’t be completed for a decade or more.”

An important factor in Google’s plan is the expansion of the Diridon Station, which “will add regional and local lines, including the BART to San Francisco.” Google has said that, “it sees housing as an essential component of development in the region, and both the company and San Jose officials say it isn’t getting any economic or tax incentives from the city to locate there.”