Four years ago, San Jose officials gathered excitedly behind a portable podium in a parking lot near the iconic Stephen’s Meats “dancing pig” sign to say Google was mulling a massive campus in the Diridon Station area that would be a boon to the city.
Land sales, closed-door meetings and years of community feedback sessions followed, some interrupted by a persistent group of protesters carrying banners imploring city leaders to say no to Google.
Now, the company has offered a $200 million cherry to sweeten its proposal, known as Downtown West, which also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, developer fees and other gifts. It’s an unprecedented proposal that won over many critics. Still, some say Google’s development agreement does not—and perhaps cannot—go far enough.
“You need economic development to uplift everybody, but it has to be cognizant of the existing conditions of the city,” says Lydon George, a graduate student in San Jose State University’s Urban Planning program. “This agreement, where they’re giving money to local groups … none of it is addressing the systemic issues of widening inequality in the city and in the region.”
The 495-page draft agreement between the City of San Jose and Google follows years of resident feedback to figure out how the company can mitigate the impacts of the proposal. On May 25, city council members are set to decide where the cost-benefit analysis lands with a vote…