Mayor Sam Liccardo and Honorable Members of the City Council
City of San Jose
200 East Santa Clara St, 18th Floor
San Jose, CA 95113
RE: December 4, 2018 City Council Meeting, Agenda Item 4.1:
Actions Related to the Agreements with Google, including the Sale of City-Owned Properties in the Diridon Station Area
Dear Mayor Liccardo, Vice Mayor Carrasco, and Honorable Councilmembers.
On behalf of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I express our support for the recommendations to approve the Memorandum of Understanding and Purchase and Sale and Option/Negotiation Rights Agreements between the City of San Jose and Google for city-owned properties in the Diridon Station Area. We applaud both the City and Google for working together in good faith and coming to agreements that continue progress towards the arrival of Google to Downtown San Jose in the Diridon Station Area.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group was founded in 1978 by David Packard, Co-Founder of Hewlett Packard. Today, the Leadership Group is driven by more than 350 CEOs/Senior Executives to proactively tackle issues to improve our communities and strengthen our economy, with a focus on education, energy, the environment, health care, housing, tax policy, tech & innovation policy, and transportation.
Rather than leaving our region, Google has proposed growing locally, bringing 20,000 new jobs to Downtown San Jose in a mixed-use master planned development that will include a significant amount of much needed new housing. This exciting opportunity would connect those who live or work at Diridon to public transit, including Caltrain, Amtrak, light rail, and—by 2026—BART.
There are numerous reasons that the vast majority of San Jose residents support the opportunity of Google in our Downtown:
* Job Creation: It will be an important source of jobs for San Jose, supporting more than 1,500 to 2,275 annual full-time, family supporting construction jobs onsite and around 20,000 permanent new jobs once built out.
* Strong Economy: Google at Diridon will have enormous economic benefits for San Jose residents. The City-commissioned economic study by ADE estimates that a built out Diridon Station Area will generate a net surplus of more than $8.5 million to $12.5 million annually to the City in new tax increment revenue.
Additionally, an economic benefit of more than $45 million to $69 million annually to the County and local school districts in new property taxes are estimated. This overall tax revenue will support local services like K-12 education, public safety, road repairs, public transit, parks, and our County Hospital.
* Open Space: Google at Diridon will include new parkland and open space that will be open and available to the public. It will also utilize the space between buildings to create parks, plazas, and Paseos for members of the community to gather.
* Affordable Housing: The most critical challenge facing San Jose is a lack of affordable housing. Young people who grow up here have to move away to find an affordable place to live; seniors who want to downsize have to do the same. Google at Diridon will generate revenue that directly supports building more affordable housing and a significant amount of new homes for the City.
* Proximity to Transit Options: One of the biggest problems facing San Jose is our extreme traffic congestion. Google at Diridon would connect the thousands of people who live and work there to multiple transit lines at the Diridon Station ─ Caltrain, light rail, the Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, buses and express buses, and—by 2026—the BART extension. It’s designed to minimize traffic impacts, prevent pollution, and improve our quality of life.
* Inclusive Planning: More than 5,000 San Jose residents worked together since 2011 to develop a future plan for Downtown development. After dozens of hearings and workshops, these citizens determined that at least 45,000 well-paying jobs are needed to create a vibrant downtown. Google at Diridon is an important step toward meeting this community goal.
* Current Neighbors: Several thousand current Google employees already live in San Jose. This opportunity will shorten their commutes, and as a result ease traffic congestion for all of us on local roads and freeways.
* Revitalizing Downtown: Google at Diridon will connect business and shopping districts in Downtown and Cahill Park, and create a Los Gatos Creek bike and pedestrian trail, revitalizing and connecting Downtown San Jose, and making it a destination for everyone to live, work and play.
The Diridon Station Area has the potential to be a destination for all, including homes, shops, restaurants, offices and open spaces – all open to the public. We are pleased that Google has shown deep interest in creating that master development and taking on the challenge of assembling the necessary sites to make the shared vision a reality without public subsidies or incentives.
The Leadership Group is excited for the potential arrival of Google to Downtown San Jose in the Diridon Station Area and the opportunities for mixed-use, transit-oriented development that will leverage the billions in public investment in the Diridon transit hub. Historically, the Leadership Group has supported and led sales tax measures that have increased the connectivity of the Diridon Station, including extending BART to Diridon Station. These investments have made the Diridon Station Area an attractive destination for economic growth and revitalization.
We applaud the City and staff for the robust community outreach process this past year, including the Diridon Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) of which the Leadership Group’s Nathan Ho, Senior Director of Housing and Community Development was pleased to be a part. We commend Google for being ever-present at each community meeting and engagement point to listen to the opportunities and challenges from community members directly.
As a valued member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Google is leading the way in demonstrating their commitment to community engagement. We strongly believe that the City has in Google the strongest of willing partners in ensuring that the shared vision and goals come to fruition in the built out Diridon Station Area.
We are enthusiastic for a revitalized Downtown San Jose and support approval of the necessary Council actions to move forward the opportunity of Google in the Diridon Station Area. The possibility of attracting another major employer to Downtown San Jose will be a gamechanger in realizing the awesome potential for our Downtown.
The Leadership Group is committed to engaging throughout the Diridon Station Area process and thank you for your thoughtful consideration.
President & CEO
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Editors note: Featured photo courtesy of Sergio Ruiz