SAN JOSE (AP) — The San Jose City Council unanimously approved the sale of more than $100 million in city-owned land to the tech giant Google on Wednesday after a 10-hour meeting that was marred by protests and arrests.
Mayor Sam Liccardo called the sale an important first step toward injecting new life into an area of the city that has struggled to thrive and is dominated by parking lots and vacant industrial lots.
The vote was not without controversy, the Mercury News of San Jose reported . Police arrested eight protesters who disrupted the meeting. Officers had to use bolt cutters to remove protesters who had chained themselves to chairs in the council chambers Tuesday night, then arrested them.
Critics say the project will send already high home prices soaring and push more vulnerable people out of the city. They pointed to soaring rents in Mountain View, where Google is headquartered, and other cities in the Silicon Valley area.
Outside City Hall on Tuesday, critics of the project put up a tent with a sign reading, “Welcome to Googleville.”
The tech giant plans to develop a 50-acre area into offices, homes, shops, restaurants and parks.
Mark Golan, Google’s vice president of real estate investments, told the council the company had “learned a tremendous amount about the local landscape” and the community’s concerns during public meetings and walks with neighborhood groups.
As part of the project, Google has said it will provide community benefits to local residents that will likely include affordable housing and education programs at local schools, the Mercury News reported.
The next step is a development agreement, which will include rules for the project, along with specifics on what benefits the community can expect to gain and a timeframe for completing construction, the newspaper said.
Project planning and design are likely to start in 2019 and last at least a couple of years. Construction could begin around 2022 and last through 2035.