San Jose spotlight: Goggle in San Jose: Dozens of East San Jose residents ask 'What's next?'

by Kyle Martin
May 15, 2019

More than 100 residents gathered at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose on Wednesday to ask one burning question: “What’s next?” for Google’s new mega-campus headed for downtown San Jose.

The meeting focused on demands for the tech giant and a candid conversation about what’s best for the city as it embarks on a journey to transform its downtown and reshape its future.

Community members provided feedback on Google’s future transit village at Diridon Station, which will span 10 acres in downtown San Jose. The public land was purchased by the tech giant in December for $110 million, which proposes up to 8 million square feet of office space as well as 20,000 new jobs.

The project also calls for a new public transit integration and expansion throughout the Bay Area via the major Diridon Station transit hub.

Hosted by Silicon Valley Rising, a group working to organize and advocate for workers around the South Bay, the meeting included heated discussions about gentrification, displacement and housing.

“We’re not going to stop it,” said Rosie Zepeda, a San Jose business leader who lost a bid for City Council in 2018.

Advocating for educators in San Jose, she said rents are already rising throughout the region, and Google’s expansion into San Jose will bring even higher rents, forcing out “the daughters and sons of teachers.”

“Not only are educators struggling, but basic institutions are being disintegrated,” she said. Zepeda said she wants to see Google “hire the children of the people here.”

And she wasn’t the only one demanding Google hire locally.

“We don’t want 20,000 people coming in from overseas,” said San Jose resident Susan Price-Jang.

Chava Bustamante, executive director of Latinos Unidos for a New America, said he wants Google to consider the impact it will have in San Jose.

“All we want is to make sure that Google comes to San Jose and doesn’t make worse the problems we already have,” Bustamante said. “We need jobs. We need good paying jobs.”

Many in the room advocated for more discussion from city leaders, legislators, pastors and other community members about the proposed campus, which is anticipated to change the face of San Jose.

“I hope Google workers will have a voice in their jobs,” said Lizette Gutierrez, who has helped organize local hospitality workers for years in Silicon Valley. “Workers who serve the tech industry deserve to stay in this community.”

East San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco on Wednesday blamed the “Google Effect” for gentrification of Alum Rock and the city’s east side communities, saying “I believe Alum Rock is a microcosm of what will happen downtown.”

She asked community members to continue holding meetings to discuss the new tech development because “a mammoth company will change the city of San Jose.”

“It’s our job to hold their feet to the fire,” she told the audience. “If we don’t get it right, my children won’t be here either.”

Contact Kyle Martin at [email protected] or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.