By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Housing activists on Wednesday mounted a protest against Google and its plans for a new mega campus in the South Bay.

Google is eyeing the area near Diridon Station for its 7 million square-foot development. Protesters said the proposed campus will only make the housing crisis in downtown San Jose worse.

“What do we want? Housing! When do we want it? Now!” the protesters chanted as they marched all the way from San Jose to the doorstep of Google in Mountain View.

The group demanded that the tech giant deliver more low-income housing and not drive poor people out when it comes to town.

“We want Google to come to San Jose, but we want them to come in a responsible way that is going to help our community, and not worsen the problems that we already have,” said Chava Bustamante with the group Silicon Valley Rising.

The new office campus could bring 20,000 tech workers to the downtown core.

As the group marched onto Google’s central plaza to deliver a letter to the company’s CEO, they were met face to face by a company representative.

“This is about our livelihood and the future of San Jose and the region.  And we need Google and all tech development to really take some responsibility,” said Maria Noel Fernandez with Silicon Valley Rising.

Google’s Javier Gonzalez — a former San Jose City Hall staffer — was polite, but offered no promises.

“Appreciate it. Thank you very much for sharing your letter and welook forward to engaging with community through the community engagement process and hearing the concerns and all the issues that are being outlined in this letter,” said Gonzalez. “Thank you very much for visiting us have a great afternoon.”

Robert Aguirre, a former tech worker who is now an advocate for the homeless, said Google can make a difference.

“They certainly have enough money to do that if they wanted to. It’s just a question of their will,” said Aguirre. “I understand they can’t save every community in the country but they can certainly start where they are.”

Google is being asked to designate 25 percent of the housing in the development for low-income residents.

  1. The problem is bigger than just affordable housing. They are talking about 20,000 jobs and only 5,000 units of housing. That means thousands more people who will seek housing in surrounding communities, increasing their housing shortages as well. And that will worsen the traffic on commute corridors already gridlocked. The housing shortage and escalating cost of what housing is available is spreading, impacting communities all the way to the Central Valley. Then we must consider the traffic gridlock that comes with all those commuters. We saw last year that it only takes one accident, such as the overturned semi on the Altamont last summer, or the haz mat closure of the 880-238 connector, to completely cripple the commute and bring traffic on the freeway and surrounding cities to a complete halt and strand drivers for hours. Development and new jobs are wonderful, but these companies need to incorporate near-site housing into their mega development plans.