Google shares Diridon Station project vision with community

The regularly scheduled Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) meeting on August 22 was the occasion of the first public viewing of the initial plan for the Google project in the Diridon Station area.  Google’s real estate team headed by Alexa Arena, director of development, presented a series of guiding principles for the company’s planning process:

  • Jobs near transit
  • Housing alongside jobs
  • Opportunity pathways
  • Build a place that is of San Jose
  • Connect people to nature and transit
  • Create partnerships around a vibrant public realm

Google referred to the presentation as their Mixed-Use Framework. Through colorful sketches, maps and vignettes, they shared a series of snapshots of the company’s vision for the three areas of the project site – the northern art/industrial area, the core with vibrant cultural, retail and civic uses, and the south, featuring green experiences and local flavor. The full presentation is available for review online.

The company noted that they were now looking at a re-allocation of space to uses on the site:

  • about 5.5 million square feet of new office space in the Diridon Station Area Plan project area
  • about 1 million square feet of office space on the San Jose Water building site
  • 3,000 – 5,000 new units of housing
  • about 15 acres of parks, plazas and green spaces
  • about 500,000 square feet of retail, arts, education hotel and other active uses

Aug. 22 SAAG meeting starts in City Council Chambers to a full house.

This was the first meeting held in City Council Chambers, a move that was prompted by concerns that the Wing Rooms would not be able to accommodate the expected large turn-out. The entire meeting, which included presentations of the City’s plans for mitigation of housing and residential displacement, was livestreamed and is viewable on YouTube.

Google is now preparing an application for land use entitlements. The application will include a project description, set of plan drawings, and list of requested entitlements, and submission of the official application to the City is expected in October, 2019.  Applications for major development projects such as this often involve requests for General Plan amendments, rezoning, and site development permits. In Google’s case, we are also planning for DSAP amendments and a Development Agreement, including a community benefits contribution and plan. Consistent with the City’s requirements for project review, the project review process starts with staff analysis of the application and some back-and-forth with the applicant to refine the project. This process includes preparation of an environmental review document under CEQA and other technical studies such as a traffic study, all accompanied by significant, noticed public engagement opportunities.

The City anticipates scheduling a City Council Study Session in March or April of 2020, pending completion of the Draft EIR. Staff will prepare a staff report to analyze the project’s consistency with City policies, summarize the potential benefits and effects, and make a recommendation to Planning Commission.  After Planning Commission, the Google project along with the DSAP Amendments and Implementation Plans will go to City Council for consideration and decision decision, possibly in Fall 2020.

While there was some protest activity before and interruptions during the meeting, the general tone of the meeting was attentive and appreciative of Google’s focus on listening to community needs and concerns, and of the company’s obvious commitment to thoughtful planning to meet the city’s urban needs rather than simply developing an office campus.

For more information on the Google project and the Diridon Station Area planning process, visit the project website.