Learn more about
Google in San José

After engaging with thousands of locals, we’ve heard many great questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequent ones we get. 

Your most common questions, answered

What does Google aim to develop?

In alignment with the City and community’s vision for the Diridon Station Area, our land use plan proposes 4,000 housing units, 7.3 million square feet of office space, 15 acres of parks, plazas and green space, and approximately 500,000 square feet of retail, cultural, arts, education, and other active uses.

When will Google start construction on its proposed project?

The City Council is expected to review and consider Downtown West for approval in Spring 2021. Following the initial design, planning approval, and receipt of permits construction could commence in 2023. The project is expected to be built in several phases over the next 10+ years.

When will I see building designs?

In the fall of 2020,  we submitted the detailed Downtown West Design Standards and Guidelines as part of our updated planning application. If the project is approved by City Council in Spring of 2021, these standards and guidelines will govern the look and feel of Downtown West and will be used by City staff to review specific building designs and heights when those are proposed in subsequent years.

How is the project timeline being affected by COVID-19?

The City of San José is currently focusing on the emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic while continuing to provide essential services. This includes continuing with development review remotely. While they are reviewing our development application, city council consideration is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2021.

How will community benefits be addressed and when will we see the community benefits package?

The process for determining community benefits is outlined in a December 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and Google, and will be codified in the pending development agreement currently being negotiated. The MOU can be found on the City of San José’s project website.

We’re continuing to work closely with City leadership and staff to identify priorities that will help shape the community benefits program. The City plans to share it with the community in early 2021.

Where can I get a copy of Google’s application to the City?

The City of San José’s project page provides information on the proposal, review process, and public meetings on the project.

How many housing units will the project include?

We’re targeting 4,000 units in Downtown West, which is 6.5 times more what’s currently allowed in the project area. The project studies a maximum of up to 5,900 units. The final unit count will reflect a range of unit types and sizes, as well as potential land and yield loss due to pending decisions related to Diridon Integrated Station Concept (DISC).

What is Google’s commitment to affordable housing?

We’re committed to supporting the City’s goal of 25 percent affordable homes in the Diridon Station Area Plan (DSAP).

How is Google responding to the issue of homelessness?

Last year, we committed $1 billion to address the Bay Area housing crisis. This included offering Google-owned land for residential development, a $250M affordable housing investment fund, and $50M in Google.org grants to address homelessnes. Notable local investments and grants to date include:

  • $5.3M investment to the 115-unit Kelsey Ayer Station affordable housing project

  • $14.5M investment to the 365-unit McEvoy Apartments affordable housing project

  • $2.7M investment to the 65-unit Charities Housing at Alum Rock affordable housing project 

  • $1M grant to LifeMoves to help add 19 new beds in San José for homeless women and families which could serve 60 to 90 people per year 

You can learn more on Google’s The Keyword blog

As far as the Downtown West project, we’re working with the City to achieve 25 percent affordable housing in the overall DSAP, and hope to have more specific details for the community early next year.

How much open space will be available for public use? How is Google meeting its parks obligation?

The project includes approximately 15 acres of generally publicly accessible parks, plazas, green spaces, mid-block passages, and riparian buffers. Approximately 10.2 acres of open space will be owned by Google and managed by a third party, of which 4.1 acres will be designated as permanent, privately owned parks with a public access agreement in perpetuity. The total 10.2 acres consists of privately-owned public parks, semi-public open space, the Los Gatos Creek setback and mid-block passages. Approximately 4.8 acres of  public parks and trail will be dedicated to the City - the dedication and improvement of these 4.8 acres will be in satisfaction of Google’s parks obligation.

Will all parks be privately-owned and operated?

Some parks will be privately-owned and some will be publicly-dedicated. All will be generally accessible to the public.

What does publicly accessible mean? Do people have to pay to access these private parks?

Publicly accessible includes a few categories: public, which is owned and regulated by city; semi-public, which is something that already exists in the code for commercial cafe spill out seating; and the privately owned but publicly accessible, where it’s open to the public but there would be certain instances where parts of the park may be reserved for private events on a limited basis for activation and in support of the funding for free public programming.

How was it decided which parks would be city-dedicated vs. privately owned?

We worked with the City to determine which parks and open spaces were best suited for public dedication, taking into consideration public input, city-dedicated park policies and requirements in the municipal code, and safety and security considerations. Design considerations were also taken into account, such as where the larger public spaces could be located to orient toward public parts of the plan.

How will the public-dedicated parks be designed and what if any public input will be available at the time of their development?

The public parks will be designed according to the typical process outlined in the City’s Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services’ standard practices, which includes four community meetings: 

  • Preliminary community meeting prior to application submittal to discuss initial park concepts

  • Community meeting after application submittal to discuss schematic design

  • Informational Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

  • Director hearing on conformance

How will open spaces be managed for inclusiveness, including for people who are homeless?

We’ve been focused on this issue, and are interested in a management model that relies on social ambassadors for open spaces, rather than a security-based model.

We’re learning more about this type of model, which would include comprehensive training for all staff members -- from executives to essential workers. The training, which could include mental health training, would help everybody involved in parks management and operations to understand the various challenges for park users who may struggle with behavioral or social issues and those who may be facing issues related to homelessness, and direct them to the appropriate resources in a helpful and inclusive way. 

The training would teach staff how to interact with people who may be facing these challenges appropriately and respectfully, and also teach staff how to make everyone feel welcomed, while understanding that open spaces have rules and regulations that are applied equally to everyone.

How will Google manage impacts to the riparian corridor?

The Downtown West plan is consistent with the City’s riparian setback policy, and the Downtown West Design Standards and Guidelines also provides for an expansion of the riparian habitat, compared to the existing landscape, which is largely developed hardscape.

How will the project incorporate bird-safe design?

Buildings within or near the ecological  buffer zones will include bird safe design with special attention to lighting and windows. Open spaces throughout Downtown West will be aligned with the City of San José’s guidelines that are largely encompassed by the American Bird Conservancy’s (ABC) Bird-Friendly Building Design (2019) documents.

What historic resources will be kept?

Historic resources as defined by CEQA, and therefore in the EIR, include candidate city landmark buildings, in addition to buildings that are actually landmarked. Of the nine CEQA resources within Downtown West, there’s one landmarked building - the San Jose Water Company Building. 

Downtown West is preserving the San Jose Water Company Building for community and non-profit use.  In addition, the project preserves other significant buildings that have value to the community such as the Kearney Patternworks and Foundry and Hellwig Ironworks - two candidate landmark buildings. The project also preserves the Stephen’s Meat Products sign, which is also considered a historic resource under CEQA, for a total of four retained historic resources.  Overall, Downtown West’s intent is to create a balance and a bridge between historic San Jose and a dynamic new part of downtown.

What is Google’s approach to preserving historic buildings?

Downtown West would retain and rehabilitate a number of central historic buildings, and activate them with new public-facing programming. These include the San Jose Water Company Building, a city landmark. The plan balances the preservation of key historic resources with the development of a cohesive and contiguous plan incorporating jobs and a significant amount of housing, both consistent with and exceeding the vision of the 2014 Diridon Station Area Plan.

Is there still going to be enough parking for the SAP Center with all of the development happening?

The project will have at least the same amount, if not more, than exists today on the same land.

How will Google manage potential parking encroachment into neighborhoods?

The project will have a neighborhood intrusion monitoring plan that will ensure that the project’s transportation demand management (TDM) measures to reduce parking are working as intended. Traffic calming measures may be implemented as well, in response to increased circulation.

Where can I send Google my comments and questions?

You can reach us at downtownwest@google.com. Please note we receive a high number of emails on a daily basis that it may take us three to five business days to respond to your message.