“CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN SAN JOSE”
Robust civic engagement that connects with vulnerable communities is imperative as cities grow, gentrify and change. Currently, Google is planning a major new development at San Jose Diridon Station. The “Downtown West” Project is undergoing heavy review and scrutiny.
All development projects undergo a series of steps to receive approval for their plan, including approval for the type of land uses (residential, commercial, retail etc), and ensuring that the development application meets all city requirements for such things as open space/parks, transportation, utilities and infrastructure, etc. This is called the entitlement process. Cities also require a level of public notification as part of the entitlement process.
As our guest speaker mentioned, Google purchased land from the City of San Jose in December of 2018. The agreement with the City includes the requirement to develop a Community Benefit package. For San Jose, the ability to add jobs to the city but also add affordable housing are key goals.
The Google project, called Downtown West Mixed-Use Plan is currently in review. As part of their process, Google and the City have conducted community outreach around the plan.
Review of the Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) community engagement process.
Resources – The following are some of the City’s resources for community engagement for this project. Copy/click the links to explore project websites and resources:
1. This is the City’s project overview site for the Downtown West: https://www.sanjoseca.gov/your-government/departments-offices/planning-building-code-enforcement/planning-division/projects-of-high-interest/google-project
2. https://www.diridonsj.org/diridon-station-area-plan-google-project – peruse this website to get a sense of the Diridon Station Area
3. https://www.diridonsj.org/saag – this website houses the SAAG so peruse this site to understand the SAAG process and role in the review of the Google project. If you are interested, you can skim meeting presentation and/or summaries or check out materials from some of the SAAG meetings – I would suggest the August 22, 2019 meeting.
4. https://www.sanjoseca.gov/home/showdocument?id=47681 – presentation to the community by Google
5. https://realestate.withgoogle.com/sanjose/updates/ – Google’s website about the Downtown West project
6. This is the link to the 2018 Civic Engagement Report that reflects community engagement leading up to the approval of the City’s agreement o sell land to Google. Read Chapters 1 and 2, and skim the rest
1. Provide your own opinion/reaction to the community engagement tools and what you reviewed – how effective? Pros and cons? Is it easy to understand and navigate?
2. Thinking about Week 3 and Gentrification/Displacement, what would be your top concerns for this planned development?
3. Considering the readings and lesson this week, what engagement tools would you suggest to increase the overall effectiveness of the outreach for this project? (reading is listed below, here is the link: https://www.vitalsource.com/) The book is called “The City Reader”
Page 279-292 “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” by Arstein
Page 467-480 “Planning in the Face of Conflict” by Forester
Page 481-491 “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning” Davidoff
Page 558-662 “What is Placemaking?” Project for Public Spaces
4. Based on what you reviewed, do you think this process is inclusive? Comprehensive? or does it raise questions or concerns for you?