SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Not everyone’s happy with Google moving into downtown San Jose.
Our exclusive KPIX-SurveyU.S.A. Poll shows a majority of voters in the city think it could be a good thing. That number is 56 percent. But 31 percent say it will be bad and 13 percent aren’t sure.
Of the folks who think it’s bad, 40 percent attribute their worry to dramatic increases in housing costs and 29 percent are concerned about traffic congestion.
Others say the deal is shrouded in secrecy.
The mayor said he had no impact on the public land deal that went before the city this week, the $67 million deal for parcels in San Jose. But there may be a problem with the optics of the deal.
We questioned the Mayor following the launch of a city-wide program to teach teenagers how to write computer code, all in preparation for future jobs at companies like Google.
“It’s about our kids not being simply tech-controlled, but tech-enabled,” said one resident.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged that he and three council members did sign Non-Disclosure Agreements with Google when talks to locate to San Jose began a year and a half ago.
But he said it was a routine step to prevent artificially inflating land prices. He said he has done similar NDA’s with other companies.
“It happened at a time when Google was acquiring dozens of privately owned parcels,” Liccardo said. “During that time, the question was, is someone going to leak to other speculators or brokers or others who might take advantage of the situation to spike up the prices of those private parcels.”
But one community group calling for transperancy in the Google deal is bothered by the secrecy.
Maria Noel Fernandez with Silicon Valley Rising said, “We believe and are very concerned that the NDA’s — that are signed in this instance — are completely inappropriate and probably unethical.”
Mayor Liccardo said the NDA’s only covered early “private” land sales and have had no effect since June of 2017, when the Google deal went public.
“As soon as we began negotiations with Google over the public parcels, we became been very public about this, all of this,” Liccardo said.
While our exclusive KPIX-SurveyU.S.A. Poll found more than half the people in San Jose think the Google deal will be good for San Jose, a large group, 43 percent, say tech companies have too much influence over local governments.
“These NDA’s are a perfect example of Google and tech having a huge influence,” said Fernandez. “What is the city of San Jose going to do? Are they going to be completely managed by Google? Or are they going to step up and make sure they are following the rules and that they are really being transparent to their community?”
The City Attorney issued a statement saying that the NDAs did not have any impact on the public deal.