'Housing not Google': Group fasts in front of City Hall to protest new Diridon campus
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - In front of San Jose's City Hall, a group of 40 pastors and advocates are fasting, protesting a city council vote that's now just hours away.
Sandy Perry with the Affordable Housing Network says, "We wrote it on the signs there: we want housing. not Google."
But Google appears to be coming. The first steps for their Diridon Station campus will likely be approved by the city council on Tuesday.
It will bring with it 6-8 million square feet of development and 20,000 jobs.
Housing advocates fear it will also bring rising rents and an even bigger housing shortage.
Perry says, "The city can't even reach its affordable housing goals now. So to say that bringing in the Google campus is going to make that easier, to us doesn't make sense."
But city officials say these are concerns they're working to address.
First by creating a downtown financing district, then by requiring 25-percent of new housing in that area be affordable. And lastly, by negotiating with Google over what Mayor Sam Liccardo calls "a significant community benefit package."
City council member Dev Davis says, "We're trying and we tried to negotiate the best deal possible for all residents of San Jose. And they know already, we're not blind to the issues of housing and homelessness."
In a statement, Google says they remain quote "committed to the creation of affordable housing in San Jose."
And while proponents of the project hope that's true, they say this shouldn't be solely their burden to bear.
Scott Knies of the San Jose Downtown Assoc says, "Those 50 acres aren't going solve Silicon Valley's housing shortage. Nor should it just be on San Jose. It's a regional issue."
Still people like Ramon Johnson are afraid. He says, "I was formerly homeless, now it looks like I'm going to be back on the streets."
His rent is already going up $400 this month. He fears things will just get worse when Google arrives.
He says, "As bad as I feel for myself, there are going to be so many more San Jose residents that are going to be in the same situation because of this Google project."