What happens when a multibillion dollar corporation moves into a neighborhood amidst a housing crisis? San Jose is about to find out.
Google is planning an 8 million square foot campus and tech village in downtown San Jose. The space is equivalent to half of the entire downtown area. East Coast investors have already begun purchasing office space nearby for more than $500 per square foot. That is a record for the area, locals say.
Some are excited for the evolution of the downtown area. Small business owners are hoping to capitalize on the 20,000 Google employees expected to work on the new campus. New shops and restaurants will open soon.
Unfortunately, though, not everyone is thrilled with Google's move. San Jose is already experiencing a housing crisis, with many homeless people living on the streets downtown. Given Google's net worth, some argue that the company has a moral obligation the city of San Jose. The president of a local affordable housing network recently told Mercury News that Google should be held accountable to doing no harm.
Activists say Google should create homeless encampments on the property of the new tech village and work with the community to provide 20,000 units of affordable housing. The mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, says the city has only just begun working with Google to address the affordable housing issue.
Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has seen the way tech companies have revolutionized the Bay area and understands why locals are concerned about housing. The Google effect on San Jose could be transformative in ways both good and bad. While progress is exciting, society must not forget about the less fortunate who may struggle to find anywhere to live once Google comes to town.
High-rise condos and ground floor restaurants will certainly see Google's move to San Jose as a good thing, but the rising prices of real estate could eventually drive out even middle class workers hoping to make their home in San Jose. No matter how you feel about Google's move, there's no question about it: downtown will be forever changed by this move.
We'll be keeping a close eye on the progress of both Google and local activists as they work towards a compromise and attempt to keep housing affordable for everyone in the San Jose area.
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management
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