On Tuesday night, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to approve the sale of several key parcels of City-owned land near Diridon Station to Google, paving the way for the next phase in the planning for the redevelopment of the Station Area as a major hub for jobs and housing. Google has proposed to develop space for more than 20,000 new jobs, accompanied by both retail and housing. The land sale was accompanied by a detailed Memorandum of Understanding between the Google and the City that, while a primarily an outline of vision and goals, will provide a framework for a detailed Development Agreement between the parties defining both the scope of the development and the range of community benefits that will be a part.
During the meeting, the City Council took the opportunity to elaborate on some of the City’s expectations through a memo introduced by Mayor Liccardo that summarized much of the input from other council members. Key elements of these expectations included: requiring that housing built in the station area achieve a 25% affordability level, a robust community outreach and engagement process, and a more explicit advisory role for the Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG). The SAAG, of which SV@Home has served as a member, was convened earlier this year to help provide input on the proposed development area.
The council meeting itself reflected both the hopes and fears for the new Google campus shared by many in San Jose. Along with real excitement for the opportunities that major Downtown development promises the City, many speakers voiced concerns about the great need for affordable housing that the new jobs would create and potential displacement. The meeting, which lasted nearly 10 hours, was interrupted several times by protests, including one point where attendees chained themselves to their seats in Council chambers.
The vote was a key step in a long process, but one that kicks off a period of real importance for the planned development as the details of how big and how much start to come into focus. From the beginning of this process we have believed that this is a real opportunity for San Jose, and with the right balance of housing and jobs we can create an enduring area that is at once a destination and a community. SV@Home will be a part of these discussions, and we remain committed to ensuring that the affordable housing needs of the City are front and center.