Growing up in the Bay Area meant being very familiar with tech companies laying their groundwork right in my backyard. Facebook, Apple, and Netflix have all laid their claim to this land and we’ve become accustomed to the benefits and pitfalls of having them watch over us. But recently, Google has had discussions of moving into San Jose. An idea that makes many residents uneasy.
The cost of living in the Bay Area is unimaginable to some. According to the Mercury News, in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, a family of four making more than 100,000 is considered “low income.” A big reason for this increased cost of living is housing, which will only grow with a big company like Google moving in.
The people hardest hit are the large Asian and Hispanic population in San Jose. With people moving in with their tech worker salaries and housing price increase, those working below a median salary range can no longer afford to stay.
A grassroots organization called Serve the People San Jose is hoping to put an end to the displacement of low-income residents by fighting tech companies from moving in.
Silicon Valley Rising, a non-profit group that advocates for affordable housing, is hopeful that the new Google campus will bring more jobs for those who may be disenfranchised, rather than kick them out. “For us, this isn’t about saying no to tech development — it’s not going away, nor do we want it to — but if it’s going to happen on this level, we’ve got to come together … and engage with the company about how they’ll mitigate impact on the community,” said Maria Noel Fernandez, campaign director for Silicon Valley Rising.
There are people who blame the tech companies completely for the increased housing costs, but David Garcia, policy director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that city hall’s decisions should be taken into consideration. When considering the economic aspect of city planning, Garcia says that cities are more interested in creating jobs and attracting companies rather than building affordable housing. In addition, cities have more of an incentive to create office space because they make more money back in the form of taxes from office development.
However, the mayor of San Jose, Sam Licardo, argues that if the Google Campus chooses San Jose as its headquarters, the campus won’t be done for at least 10 years which is plenty of time to prepare residents for the changes Google will bring with it.
Proponents for Google moving into San Jose argue that this is the price people have to pay for a larger city. People complain about the cost of living in New York, but it is accepted as a fact when choosing to live there. Google will provide tax subsidies, make the commute easier for those living in San Jose, and will bring an influx of opportunities to those working in the tech industry.
They argue that the fact is that yes, Silicon Valley is becoming bigger and will continue to become more expensive. If people can’t afford to live here, then the best idea is to move somewhere more reasonably priced. Google is coming in next to San Jose’s Diridon Station and it is projected it will bring 20,000 jobs with them. With the increase of job opportunity and the possibility of Diridon Station becoming the new Grand Central Station, this opportunity cannot be wasted.
The addition of the Google campus is an insight into what could happen to other cities on the rise. People who lived in Downtown Phoenix ten years ago say the city is unrecognizable now. Construction noise has become a norm during a daily commute and large cranes have become a fixture in the skyline.
Thanks in large part to Arizona State University choosing Downtown Phoenix for another campus, the area has had a large increase in restaurants, housing, and nightlife. Soon enough, businesses will want to make Phoenix their home and many will start coming in soon – before real estate prices skyrocket.
The effects in real estate have already begun to show. College student housing in Tempe is significantly cheaper than in Downtown Phoenix and housing, in general, is more affordable in other areas of Arizona. Although it isn’t anywhere close to Silicon Valley yet – according to a 2018 cost of living calculator, cost of living in Phoenix is 56% cheaper than in San Jose – it will get there soon if it continues to grow the way it has.0