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Google, City of San Jose Respond to Sharks’ Criticism

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Credit: Google

The San Jose Sharks had plenty to say yesterday about the city of San Jose and Google’s re-development plans around SAP Center.

Sharks Say City, Google Development Could Force Them Out of San Jose

Sharks President on San Jose, Google Plans: “There’s a way to have your cake and eat it too.”

So how have the city of San Jose and Google responded?

San Jose Hockey Now reached out to both the city of San Jose and Google yesterday. SJHN is still awaiting a statement from the city but did talk with a Google spokesperson today.

(UPDATE: The city of San Jose has sent SJHN a statement, see below.)

It’s important to emphasize that the San Jose Sharks’ ire yesterday was directed mostly at the city of San Jose.

“Our conversations with Google have gone pretty well,” San Jose Sharks president Jonathan Becher said. “I wouldn’t put the blame on Google. I think that’s unfair.”

A Google spokesperson told the Mercury News yesterday, “We look forward to continuing to work with the Sharks and the city as the process moves forward.”

The San Jose Sharks, however, did raise one objection about Google’s plans in yesterday’s letter to the fans: “Google’s Downtown West project is proposing to provide only 2,850 parking spaces for their 30,000 employees and there are minimal increases in parking planned within the remainder of the area. Without an adequate supply of parking for the tens of thousands of additional cars coming to the area, the streets surrounding SAP Center are likely to be hopelessly gridlocked.”

On the surface, 2,850 commercial/public parking spaces for 30,000 employees does appear to be insufficient.

However, the Google spokesperson noted that a lot of company employees don’t drive into work: The existence of Diridon Station, a massive transit hub, is a big reason why Google is building its campus there.

Google’s General Development Plan also indicates that 2,850 is the minimum number of commercial/public parking spaces promised but “up to 4,800” are possible, adding the “maximum number of commercial and/or residential parking spaces in the Downtown West PD Zoning District may be increased.”

In short, there appears to be some flexibility with the 2,850 figure and even more than 4,800 appears possible.

Google’s General Development Plan also includes the addition of 2,360 residential parking stalls to the Diridon area.

The spokesperson also stressed that the company would be investing heavily in options for public transit, rideshare (i.e. buses, carpools, etc.), and bikes for the area.

While this doesn’t address all of the San Jose Sharks’ concerns, there seems to be wiggle room here, and it has to be said that Google isn’t the only major development project scheduled around SAP Center.

The spokesperson deferred any questions about the reduction of lanes on Santa Clara Street and the coordination of potentially simultaneous Google, DSAP, BART, and Caltrain development projects to the City of San Jose.

Speaking of the city of San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo told the Mercury News: “I am absolutely certain that nothing about our community’s long-standing ambitions for transit and urban development in Downtown West will threaten the Sharks’ treasured tenure here. These projects will bring thousands of BART riders, new residents, workers and fans to the Sharks’ front door — a windfall for any professional sports franchise.”

City of San Jose Office of Economic Development director Nanci Klein concurred, giving this statement to SJHN:

“The City of San Jose values the Sharks as a key asset to the city’s vibrant lifestyle, and fully intends to provide the Sharks with the resources they need to thrive.

“Google’s project, Downtown West, is also a key element in the city’s future, and as we progress through the stages of the Downtown West development, the City will be working with our partners to create a very thoughtful and detailed construction management and mitigation plan. It’s important to understand that such plans are typically put in place later in the development stage than we are now.

“The City of San Jose will honor its parking agreement with the Sharks, while coordinating with the transformation of the Diridon station and its transit elements, including BART, over a period of years.

“The City is committed to mitigating the transportation challenges during the extended construction period, to ensure the continued successful operation of the Sharks franchise in San Jose.”

Obviously, the Sharks aren’t so sure.

The San Jose City Council is scheduled to host a Google and DSAP study session — a Zoom webinar that will include a City staff presentation, City Council discussion, and a public comment period — on Monday afternoon.

“We’re excited to hear more from the City and community at the upcoming study session,” the Google spokesperson said.

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Alicia

Downtown will be a mess during construction, regardless of what the city says.

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