SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – In San Jose protesters disrupted the mayor’s State of the City Address, chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear, Google is not welcome here.”
It’s a tactic not seen very often.
They were fired up and the protests were loud and disruptive by design.
“Not our mayor!” they yelled.
“People are fearing that they won’t be able to live in San Jose,” said Serve the People San Jose member Liz Gonzalez.
It’s a grassroots group opposed to Google’s plans to build a mega-campus in downtown.
“We have to be in their face because we’re fighting to stay in the city that we grew up with that we love where our family and friends are,” she says.
The group interrupted Mayor Sam Liccardo’s address four times…
“Serve the people!” they yelled.
“I just don’t think shouting at each other is the right way to have a dialogue,” says City Councilwoman Deb Davis.
Councilwoman Davis worries their message about the woeful lack of affordable housing will be overshadowed by their in-your-face methods.
“We have a public process set up. It will be public,” she says. “There will be plenty of time for everyone’s voices to be heard.”
“San Jose has suffered from the worst jobs to housing imbalance of any major city.”
Mayor Liccardo says the city’s housing crisis pre-dates Google. He’s unveiled an ambitious plan to build 25,000 new homes, 10,000 of them affordable, in the next five years. He believes the public needs to temper its expectations of the tech giant.
Affordable Housing Network President Sandy Perry disagrees.
“Google is not responsible for San Jose’s problems? That’s ridiculous,” she says. “They’re a part of this community. They have to be responsible for the social problems in this community.”
“From my conversations with Google executives, they want to be a part of our community,” says Davis.
But in this community there is a growing and increasingly vocal opposition to their presence.
Meanwhile, the Google campus is about a decade away from breaking ground. The city recently set a sale price for several city-owned properties for $67 million.