San Jose Google development faces another delay
Alexa Arenas, Google’s director of real estate development, presents the tech giant's plans for redevelopment in downtown San Jose Dec. 5, 2019 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose. File photo courtesy of Janice Bitters

Google’s sprawling proposed campus that will change the face of downtown San Jose hit a snag and is further delayed.

The draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the Downtown West Project was not submitted to the San Jose City Council by the Aug. 25 deadline, according to Mayor Sam Liccardo and Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Rosalynn Hughey.

“They’re trying to address some legal issues with regard to the document. I don’t think it changes anyone’s plan at all … It’s just a matter of weeks, not months,” Liccardo told San José Spotlight.

Acting City Attorney Nora Frimann said all EIRs are subject to legal review and is not aware of any lawsuits against the city.

A drawing of Google’s proposed “Downtown West” development, which would span more than 60 acres of land around San Jose’s Diridon Station. Photo courtesy of Sitelab Urban Studio | Google

Hughey said the city and consultant team are still working on the draft and anticipating completion later in the fall. At the same time, planning officials will release the project’s draft, design standards and guidelines.

Tim Rood, a division manager for Planning, Building and Code Enforcement, said his department is now drafting a new EIR different from the one completed by the city in 2018.

The planning department still needs to complete a technical analysis before completing the EIR, Rood said.

“Essentially the technical studies are establishing what the impacts are for that larger development,” Rood said during a Diridon Joint Policy Advisory Board meeting.

During the meeting, Rod Diridon Sr., the former chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority, said the city should also consult with historians to inspect the development area for any historic landmarks they would have to preserve.

Planning officials say they have faced several hurdles conducting community outreach and pushing projects forward because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Jose has asked the state to push back its approval deadline for the development, originally scheduled for Dec. 30 under a state streamlining program. The program, AB 900, fast tracks legal environmental challenges for certain projects.

However, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Google faced a series of challenges negotiating with property owners near the area — specifically the San Jose Sharks hockey team.

Contrary to the city’s plan to build a massive hub for public transportation around the development, the Sharks say they need more parking space for cars. The Sharks have a contract with San Jose to ensure parking close proximity to SAP Center.

Google will need to work out a deal with the sports team before it can purchase three key parking lots in the middle of its path of development — a negotiation that city leaders have conceded will be complicated.

But Scott Knies, the executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association, said he expects a long road of delays ahead for the Google development after the city postponed development agreements.

“Once they pushed that out four months,” Knies said. “I figured everything else would be pushed four months — zoning, environmental work.”

Contact Mauricio La Plante at [email protected] or follow @mslaplantenews on Twitter.

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