Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.

San Jose Google Project Community Town Hall Meeting in Gardner raises serious questions about living wages, affordable housing, and community displacement

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Neighborhood activists and residents met together at the Gardner Community center on Monday, 20th November to talk about Google’s proposed mega-campus in San Jose.

The speak-out was organized by a number of labor groups, including the following: Silicon Valley Rising; Working Partnerships USALUNA – Latinos United for a New AmericaUnite Here! Local 19; Law Foundation of Silicon Valley; South Bay Labor Council; People Acting in Community Together; Affordable Housing Network; and others.

Representatives from Google corporation were not at the meeting.  At that, a banner appeared at the front of the room questioning “Where is Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google?”  It had a lifesize image of the executive, and residents were asked to write their thoughts on sticky-notes, and post their questions and concerns at the side wall.

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Politicians were not present or speaking at the meeting, but California State Assemblymember Ash Kalra showed up early in the hall room, greeted everyone and then agreed to meet with neighborhood leaders in a pre-meeting at the Community Center.  This happened in a separate side room, independently of the town hall meeting.  Kalra represents state District 27, which covers most of the concerned area.

Back at the main Town Hall Meeting, the voices from the greater Gardner neighborhood expressed concerns about the cost of living in San Jose and Silicon Valley; the impacts of gentrification; the lack of real affordable housing; if not the ultimate displacement of families from their traditional neighborhoods.  That’s especially if they don’t work in the technology sector, or if well-paying jobs (such as those at Google) are not available to them.

Many residents feel that Google’s coming into San Jose could change the community indefinitely, making survival here nearly impossible, or consequentially dire and hopeless.   Declarations making those points are seen in de•Post‘s Facebook videos, here and here.

Several people vehemently demonstrated how things are already bad enough for themselves, their families and everyone in their neighborhood… if not even the greater valley.  They pointed out the hardship among people of diverse demographics, even outside that of lower-income families, minorities, and recent immigrants.

Beyond companies like Google, hardships in the region’s economic culture and way of life are also impacting middle-class families, senior citizens, and those beginning to establish their adult lives, coupling, or new families.  San Jose is now seeing multigenerational households as the “new normal”, with some of those members at different stages or circumstances in their lives.

Organizers asked attendees to join again form another demonstration and action in January.

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