Op-Ed: Google Advisory Group Must Reflect San Jose’s Diversity

As a member of the San Jose City Council, I believe that the core of our role as public officials is to listen, gather information, and make informed decisions. For this to take place, we must make every effort to include and consider diverse public sentiment.

Last Tuesday, my colleagues and I discussed the role our community will play in the nascent Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG). This newly formed group will advise the city administration and Council on actions related to future development at Diridon Station and the eventual MOU with Google.

City staff proposed to council a membership of 35 entities to serve on the SAAG. In reviewing the list, I found some gaps in representation and felt it important to fill those gaps. There is no magic number as to how many entities should be part of this group. Creating the group is more art than science. My intent was never to remove members from the SAAG, but rather make certain we were inclusive of all groups that should be part of the conversation.

Faith-based entities and advocacy groups with a track-record of understanding the deep issues at play were missing from the SAAG. For example, of the several business groups on the list, none represented the interests and perspectives of small minority-owned businesses. Additionally, the SAAG lacked representation of our homeless community. Both Councilman Raul Peralez and I recognized the need to have a homeless or formerly homeless person on the SAAG.

Ultimately, in a unanimous vote last week—although one council member is trying to change his “yes” into a“no”—the council approved my recommendation to include the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, People Acting in Community Together and the Minority Business Consortium. That brings the total membership of the group to 38.

The reality is that Google is already in San Jose. The hundreds of community interactions I have had over the last eight months have made it abundantly clear that residents from all walks of life have concerns and questions about Google’s planned downtown development. It is not just “ravenous liberals” looking to flip Google upside-down and shake out every last coin—conservatives and residents all along the economic spectrum are anxious and apprehensive.

San Jose residents are not selfishly asking what Google is going to do for them, but rather what impact Google will have on our city.

We are all aware that Google did not create San Jose’s housing crisis, nor did it contribute to the challenges within our school system, and it certainly has not created our homeless crisis. However, Google has the potential to exacerbate these problems if we do not act responsibly and take seriously the concerns of our community. It has been said by some that we must temper expectations.

Though we recognize the exciting opportunity that Google brings to our city, we must not minimize or dismiss the significant impacts of the proposed project, which we can reasonably anticipate.

As the SAAG develops, we need to make certain it reflects broad public sentiment and does not become an echo chamber in which all things Google are accepted without robust debate. I believe there is much good that will come from the Google project, and I will do everything within my power to guarantee that the good is for all.

San Jose Councilman Sergio Jimenez was elected to the District 2 seat in 2016. He currently serves on the city’s Transportation and Environment, Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committees. Click here for a roster of his district staff. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

15 Comments

  1. A camel is a horse designed by a committee. This camel is gonna have a lot of humps. Good luck with that.

  2. This is political correctness stepping in its own do-do. Think of this. Everyone has equal rights. But no one is equal. I cannot dunk a basketball like Kevin Durant, you cannot sing like – -take your pick. Point is our society has gotten everyone thinking that we’re “all equal” – we’re not (and there are no two snowflakes alike either) – BUT we do give everyone equal rights under the law. It is up to the individual to get in there and claim their prize (whatever that is). If you don’t get your prize – chances are that its not that your equal rights have been violated – you just weren’t equal to the task. Sorry – not everyone makes the team – that’s life LaBron.
    But when you gang up as a group – all you are doing in an off hand manner is declaring your own un-equalness (as an individual) and therefor must con the PC system into caving. Now – Man up.

    • Hugh…how about you “man up” and use your real name? You “weren’t equal to the task?: How very Ayn Rand of you. BTW you do know she lived off the government in her later years right?

      • Thank you Sergio Jimenez for your leadership. So many people who do not have political power, need to be represented- and you stepped up. We appreciate the effort you are making to do right by everyone concerned.

  3. I applaud Council Member Jimenez for insisting that SAAG represent San Jose’s diversity. We must include the widest possible spectrum of voices and perspectives at the table in order to ensure the wisest decisions. Bravo to the City Council for unanimously supppprting this addition of these 3 groups,

    • > We must include the widest possible spectrum of voices and perspectives at the table in order to ensure the wisest decisions.

      The “widest spectrum of voices and perspectives at the table” DOESN’T ensure the “wisest decisions”. It ONLY guarantees the most noise.

  4. “It is not just “ravenous liberals” looking to flip Google upside-down and shake out every last coin…”

    Ha! Yes it is.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/24/east-san-jose-town-hall-scrutinizes-google-village-project/

    A week later they pulled a bunch of homeless together to pull the heart strings and purse strings.
    They have been working this mark since August. This collection of rent-seekers, Councilmembers Jimenez and Peralta, CHAM Ministries, “Latino’s for a New America”, Silcon Valley Rising, and the rest of the lot don’t think we know what’s up. At least Jesse Jackson was an honest shakedown artist. Look at the city budget, if you want to go bankrupt on the next downturn, keep listening to these people, who have never made money for themselves, ever. You need more jobs and less houses in San Jose. Period.

    Have you no shame!

    • Apparently you are the one lacking shame. And BTW you may want to get the names right – there is no “Peralta.” Your ignorance is showing in more ways than one. You have literally said NOTHING of value here and made no point other than to make sure we all can see that you have none.

      • Thank you Susan for your polite response. As mention before on this site, I, like all people, are ignorant of many things. This is the reality of life. However, instead of surrendering my critical thinking and reciting sycophantic plerbs, I try to address that ignorance through some study of the situation in San Jose. It seems you are unaware that our fair city and it’s elected leaders have been lacking in the savvy department when it comes to land use. As a result, we have 0.8 jobs-to-employed residents, when we need to be at about 1.3 jobs-to-employed residents. So we get the short end of the stick on public safety spending, we spend about $400 a resident where as SF spends little under $1200 a resident. With that we still are on brink of losing money even in the boom years. That means we need to add jobs and be very picky with what kind of housing we add, no more SFH or low density multi families and certainly no public housing.

        Starting with the Hamann annexation fiasco of the 50/60s, San Jose has since made pretty much every mistake in the book. I am sure they had good intentions when they made all these mistakes, but good intentions make for bad policy. In comes Google in 2017, wanting to build exactly what San Jose needs to make up for some (#NotAll) of those mistakes. All places have their crazy uncles and of course, on que, come in the our rent-seeking shakedown artists to get hand-outs and freebies. No stunt is too shameless, like the homeless video release back in August. Because, why not? We don’t need more people in San Jose a lunch time… well actually we do. See an interesting read different development types and their impact on the budget.

        http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/47763

        But perhaps I am still ignorant? One of us certainly is. Please feel free to spell and grammar check my response, it really adds to your commentary.

      • Ms. Wolfe,

        Maybe you can help me understand this. How is being, or having been, homeless, qualify a person for a position on whatever this committee is going to be? Is someone instantly an expert on homelessness just because they had previously slept in a cardboard box under the freeway or stood on an off-ramp holding a “will work for food” sign? This line of reasoning makes as much sense as advocating for a current or former heroin addict to be included on the Board of Directors of a pharmaceutical company. Is someone of a particular ethnicity then an instant expert on all issues involving their particular ethnic group solely on the basis of that ethnicity? Words relating to so-called “diversity”, “inclusion” etc., were mentioned, ad nauseum, but nowhere in this article did I see the words “competent”, “well qualified”, or “educated”.

        To stream line the formation of all local government committees, agencies, or any group, tribe or subculture that touches or directs any tax dollars, I propose that the City create a centralized “Victim’s Center”. The Victim Center will be populated by all manner of victim classes. The “victim class” is defined as any group other than straight white males, however gay white males will also be excluded if they are Republicans.

        This way, anytime a new committee, group, agency or other political necessity forms, all that any politician need do is have their staff call down to the Victim Center, order up as many of whatever variety or type of persons are needed to staff a particular Board, Committee, or what have you, and then diversity is instantly achieved. Since qualification, intelligence, and competence are meaningless and not required, this would sure seem a way to save a lot of time while still maintaining that all important compassion and that sacred so-called diversity.

  5. Yo, Sergio!

    It’s easy-peasy to get Google to conform to your nonsense. Just buy 50%+1 Google shares. Then YOU can call the shots! You see, a company has a primary fiduciary duty to its shareholders… not to someone with with an opinion about how a company should be run. Worse, someone who has always fed off the taxpayers—while shedding his crocodile tears over private sector companies.

    I’m not surprised a gov’t drone doesn’t understand how a market economy works, but here’s a question you might be qualified to answer:

    Are all the pot holes filled?

    If your answer is Yes, then feel free to waste our tax money on your ‘diversity’ carp…

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