SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The city of San Jose is set to take a key vote Tuesday afternoon on the sale of a major section of the downtown area to Google.
The deal has been in the works for several years and is finally in the homestretch. The City Council meeting began at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday with public comment coming before the final vote to approve the deal. It appears there are enough votes to pass the proposed sale.
Over the weekend, a group of activists launched last-ditch effort to derail the deal, staging a protest outside City Hall.
Hunger strikers set up camp on Sunday, hoping to convince the council to save that city-owned land and set it aside to provide housing for the homeless.
The council is set to vote on the sale involving 21 acres around the Diridon train station to Google for $110 million.
It’s projected to bring about 25,000 jobs to the downtown core.
“This is a company that wants to build in the city core and build in a street grid, and do it in a way that is entirely mixed use,” said Scott Knies with the San Jose Downtown Association. “With the housing, the affordability, retail and restaurant hotel and everything, what a fantastic opportunity.”
If the council approves the deal, the new campus will be laid out into three zones.
The so-called “innovation district” with business research will be to the north. The central zone will have the trains, retail and entertainment and the southern zone will be mixed-use residential.
Mayor Sam Liccardo has been a major proponent of the sale. On Monday, he tweeted details of the deal, saying 25 percent of housing built within the project will be set aside for affordable housing.
There will also be college tuition assistance, mentoring for kids in low-income families and job training.
On Tuesday afternoon, Liccardo promised to work on building more affordable housing hours before the historic vote that would change the landscape of the city.
“The reality is we’re in a housing crisis today,” Liccardo said. “We know that Google didn’t cause this crisis. This crisis is decades in making.”
Liccardo says the sale, if approved, is expected to bring in $10 million in annual revenue to San Jose.
The group of 40 pastors and community activists have been staging a nonviolent protest at City Hall for three days, including a hunger strike.
The protesters want the city to retain that land for affordable housing. Many feel the tech giant’s campus will squeeze out those already struggling to survive in Silicon Valley. They fear rents will get even higher.
“This city is drawing a line in the money and we’re on the wrong side of that line,” said activist Ramon Johnson.
Johnson is a formerly homeless San Jose resident who was among those who participated in the hunger strike to protest the land sale to Google.
“I was sleeping right on First Street,” said Johnson, going on to say that Liccardo helped him find housing. “I’m fortunate to having housing now, even though I’m facing a rent increase.”
But while protesters filled the city council chambers to participate in the public comment portion ahead of the vote, there were many supporters who also attended the meeting. Sushi Confidential restaurant owner Randy Musterer was one of those supporters.
“I mean I felt we hit a gold mine,” Musterer said.
Sushi Confidential sits a half mile away from the planned Google’s mega campus.
“These are things that we would hope and dream,” Musterer said.
Dozens of people signed up to participate in public comment for Tuesday’s city council meeting. City council members expect the meeting to stretch late into the night before they finally vote on the sale.