The Mercury News: Google Transit Village in Downtown San Jose Captures Wide Support: poll

By: George Avalos

September 20, 2018

SAN JOSE — More than two out of three San Jose residents support a proposed Google transit village that would dramatically reshape the look and feel of downtown San Jose for decades to come, according to a new poll from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group released Thursday.

“We are seeing overwhelming support for the Google development in downtown San Jose,” said Carl Guardino, president of the business advocacy group. “People want the Google development here in San Jose.”

Among likely San Jose voters surveyed, 68 percent surveyed said they support Google’s transit-oriented community of office buildings, homes, shops, restaurants and open spaces near the Diridon train station and the SAP entertainment complex in San Jose, the poll found. Another 24 percent of the respondents oppose the project and 8 percent are undecided.

“San Jose residents agree that building a vibrant, mixed-use destination near Diridon Station can bring tens of thousands of jobs to our city and generate millions in annual revenues to support critical city services,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Thursday.

The latest poll results revealed erosion in support for the development since an earlier poll conducted by SVLG, whose more than 350 member companies include major tech firms like Google, Apple and Facebook.

A poll released in February found 79 percent of residents supported the project and 16 percent were opposed. That poll, however, sampled 431 registered voters in Santa Clara County. The latest poll, conducted by FM3 Research in September, surveyed 400 likely voters in San Jose only.

“The latest numbers are still phenomenally strong” said Guardino.

In the latest survey, respondents were given the following information:  “The proposed Google development would be located in downtown near Diridon Station. This project would connect those who live and/orwork there to Caltrain, Amtrak, the ACE train, Capitol Corridor and, in a few years, BART. The project would include homes, shops, restaurants, offices, and open spaces, open to the public. Fifteen thousand to 20 thousand Google employees would work in the area over the next ten to twelve years. Having heard this, do you support or oppose the proposed Google development?”

Some community groups have raised concerns about the project, raising questions about whether it will intensify traffic, create enough well-paying jobs for local residents, unleash gentrification and exacerbate the housing crisis. Some community leaders also want to be certain that Google ensures that benefits flow to San Jose residents if the search giant builds its project.

“This project could be a great opportunity for San Jose, but if, and only, if, Google and the city do it right and create benefits for the residents of San Jose,” said Maria Noel Fernandez, campaign director of Silicon Valley Rising, the umbrella organization of a coalition of community groups. “We have heard nothing from Google about how the company intends to mitigate the impacts.”

A poll released by the South Bay Labor Council and Silicon Valley Rising determined that about 63 percent of 400 likely San Jose voters supported the Google transit village, while 27 percent were in opposition — strikingly similar results from a roughly equivalent sampling universe. EMC Research conducted that poll in February.

The Silicon Valley Rising survey also found that 80 percent of those surveyed believe Google should be required to create affordable housing, mitigate traffic impacts, address housing for displaced families and ensure open spaces are created.

“We have conducted very extensive community outreach, and there are real concerns about housing displacement, affordable housing, and traffic,” said Ben Field, executive director of the South Bay Labor Council.

But Guardino said the SVLG survey showed wide raning support for individual components of the project.

“People have heard the pros and the cons and they want the Google project to move forward,” he said.

The poll, conducted from Sept. 11-17 in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percent.