Google in San Jose: Two more public agencies signed NDAs
California High Speed Rail Authority was one of the agencies that signed NDAs with Google. Pictured is concept art of high speed rail in San Jose. Photo courtesy of California High Speed Rail Authority.

More non-disclosure agreements signed with Google are surfacing as the tech giant pushes forward with its downtown San Jose campus.

Google came under fire earlier this year after San José Spotlight revealed 18 San Jose city officials signed NDAs with the corporation. Advocates and government watchdogs have called the number of NDAs demanded by the tech giant unprecedented. But records requested by this news organization show that San Jose City Hall isn’t alone – 27 Valley Transportation Authority officials and their contractors also signed NDAs for “conversations regarding Diridon Station and Station Area planning.”

Google purchased land from the city in December for its proposed mega campus near the Diridon Station area which is expected to bring 20,000 new jobs to San Jose.

“Given that VTA is building a BART station at Diridon, we were interested in learning more about Google’s plans in the area,” said VTA spokesperson Holly Perez.

Here’s the list of VTA officials and its contractors that signed NDAs with Google:

  • MC Versteegden, the commercial director at Arcadis who partnered with VTA for the Diridon Integrated Station Concept Plan (8/6/2017)
  • Nuria Fernandez, CEO of VTA (8/7/2017)
  • Erica Roecks, engineer with Kimely-Horn for VTA’s BART extension project (8/8/2017)
  • Leyla Hedayat, senior vice president with Kimely-Horn and program manager for VTA’s BART extension project (8/8/2017)
  • Jill Gibson, transportation planner with Kimely-Horn for VTA’s BART extension project (8/8/2017)
  • Tyla Treasure, analyst with Kimely-Horn (8/9/2017)
  • Erin Sheelen, transportation planner with Kimely-Horn (8/10/2017)
  • Adriano Rothschild, transportation analyst with Kimely-Horn for VTA’s BART extension project (8/14/2017)
  • Ronak Naik, transportation engineer at VTA (8/18/2017)
  • Chris Augenstein, director of planning and programming at VTA (8/23/20)
  • George Naylor, transportation planning manager at VTA (8/25/2017)
  • Inez Evans, the chief operating officer of VTA (8/25/2017)
  • Raj Srinath, chief financial officer at VTA (8/25/2017)
  • Ron Golem, the deputy director of real estate at VTA (8/25/2017)
  • Scott Haywood, policy and communications relations manager at VTA (8/25/2017)
  • James Unites, deputy director of transit planning and capital development at VTA (8/28/2017)
  • Ton Deuling with Benthem Crouwel Architects (9/6/2017)
  • Steve Truman, contract manager with Arcadis that partnered with VTA for the Diridon Integrated Station Concept Plan (9/6/2017)
  • Brandi Childress, media and public affairs manager at VTA (9/8/2017)
  • Daniel Jongtien, a partner at Benthem Crouwel Architects that partnered with VTA for the Diridon Integrated Station Concept Plan (9/8/2017)
  • Dennis Ratcliffe, deputy director of the SVRT/BART Capital Program at VTA (10/20/2017)
  • Kevin Kurimoto, transportation planner at VTA (10/20/2017)
  • Rosemarrie Gonzalez, the executive secretary for development and congestion management at VTA (10/20/2017)
  • Krishna Davey, BART Silicon Valley project controls manager at VTA (10/23/2017)
  • Jim Lawson, director of government affairs at VTA (10/30/2017)
  • Dennis Kearney, senior planner with Kimley-Horn for VTA’s BART extension project (11/27/2017)
  • Gretchen Baisa, community outreach supervisor at VTA (11/27/2017)

Interestingly, one of the VTA officials to sign the NDA is a media spokeswoman for the agency, Brandi Childress.

The language of NDAs signed by VTA officials is identical to those signed by San Jose officials, and require officials to “protect confidential information.” It expires five years from disclosure — unless the parties agree otherwise in writing – and information will remain confidential even after the NDA’s termination.

Language in the NDAs signed by VTA officials note that it’s specific to Diridon Station. Read copies of the VTA NDAs here.

 

According to city documents, San Jose, VTA, Caltrain and the California High Speed Rail Authority entered into an agreement last year to develop a vision for the expanded Diridon Station. But of those four agencies, only one declined to sign NDAs with Google: Caltrain.

A records request at the California High Speed Rail Authority showed that then-interim CEO Thomas Fellenz signed an NDA with Google on Aug. 22, 2017. A records request with Caltrain, however, turned up no NDAs.

“Under the circumstances, Caltrain saw no need for an NDA,” said Caltrain spokesperson Tasha Bartholomew.

Google could not be reached for comment.

Vas Kumar, a member of Serve The People San José, criticized Google for requiring public agencies to remain mum on the massive land deal. The grassroots organization has often scrutinized what it perceives to be backdoor deals between Google and public officials.

“Google is normalizing corporate exclusionary practices and privatizing our public service agencies, which it has no business doing,” she said. “It started doing it with City Council and now it has branched out to other agencies that are supposed to represent the people and be accountable to the people.”

Contact Grace Hase at grace@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @grace_hase on Twitter.

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