A new poll bankrolled by Facebook and sponsored by the Mercury News and Silicon Valley Leadership Group shows that San Jose voters largely favor Google’s plans to build a massive new headquarters in downtown.
The survey asked 431 registered voters in Santa Clara County the somewhat leading question of whether they “support or oppose Google’s plans to bring up to 20,000 jobs into downtown San Jose over a 10-year period” instead of losing them to another jurisdiction. Seventy-nine percent said they endorse the proposal, 16 percent said they oppose it and 5 percent declined to state their opinion one way or the other.
When asked whether it was more important for the Google project to bring in more jobs or new housing, 53 percent preferred new jobs compared to 38 percent who preferred more housing. Nine percent declined to share their opinion.
The poll suggests that San Jose residents would rather see more commercial development than new housing, despite the region’s dire shortage of affordable housing.
“While we need more housing throughout our region, and San Jose continues to do more than its fair share, voters recognize that San Jose lags behind in securing new jobs,” Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino said. “In fact, it has a jobs to housing imbalance of only .84 jobs for every home.”
Guardino, a lobbyist, represents 400-plus companies, including Google and Facebook, through his trade association group. He said San Jose needs the kind of mixed-use, transit-linked development Google’s proposing for the Diridon Station area.
“These poll findings display that the public understands what smart growth policy experts have been advocating for decades, it’s essential to build job centers close to transit stations,” he said. “It’s a proven fact that people of all income levels will take transit like Caltrain and BART, if stations are a close walk or bike from their office. The Diridon/Google development is the perfect example of building dense development within walking distance of what will soon become the busiest multi-model transit station west of the Mississippi.”
Mayor Sam Liccardo echoed Guardino’s enthusiasm.
“Residents understand that a proposed Google development could catalyze our vision for a vibrant urban village that combines offices, housing, world-class amenities, public spaces and mass transit,” he said. “They also recognize that Google is not receiving any special deals from our city, and instead will generate millions in much-needed tax revenues to support police, emergency response and other important city services.”
Google began has been in talks with San Jose officials since last summer about building up to 8 million square feet of office space in the heart of the city, a proposal that’s already set off a buying frenzy in downtown. The city recently agreed to sell off several parcels to the advertising giant for $67 million.
Community groups have criticized Liccardo for the way he’s been handling the Google deal, saying he’s showing too much deference to the tech company when he should be demanding more in the way of public benefits.
The mayor has also been criticized for a lack of transparency in the Google negotiations. Liccardo has repeatedly dismissed the notion that there’s anything secretive about the deal, insisting that the community will have plenty of chances to weigh in. But just last week, the Merc reported that the mayor and about 10 city officials in all signed non-disclosure agreements with Google.
Below is the list of questions asked of voters by J. Moore Methods Public Opinion Research from Dec. 27 through Jan. 9 on behalf of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area News Group. The margin of error was +/- 4.8 percent
In recent months, Google has been considering plans in downtown San Jose to add as many as 20,000 new jobs over a 10-12 year period. Have you heard of the San Jose Google project?
Rather than moving jobs out of the region or the state, Google is considering a 10-year plan to bring as many as 20,000 jobs into downtown San Jose by 2025, adjacent to Diridon Transit Station which is home to Caltrain, light rail, Amtrak, the Altamont Commuter Express, buses, express buses, employer shuttle buses and, expected by 2026, the BART extension.” Do you support or oppose Google’s plans to bring up to 20,000 jobs to downtown San Jose over a ten-year period?
Which aspect of this Google project is more important to you, bringing in 20,000 jobs or providing housing for new residents?
20,000 New Jobs………53
Do you support or oppose the type of development that combines jobs, housing, and mass transit in an urban setting?