A San José Google Campus Will Erase My Existence

Editor's Note:

A local San José father of two grapples with the fears he has for his family's future in San José – the fears of being displaced and erased are at his doorstep as the city moves forward with a plan to build a Google Campus for 20,000 employees. He chooses to fight back.

I’m fighting to keep the proposed Google campus out of San José because I want to exist.

I know much of life is change and adapting to it, but feeling like it’s being forced upon me for the benefit of a few others compels me to resist it. I feel like Mayor Sam Liccardo and his partners are bringing pain and suffering to my doorstep, and that I’m fighting for survival. I’m fighting for home, and home is everything. It is identity, it is community, it is family. Without these things I am nothing, I don’t exist.

"The proposed Google campus brings San José to a crossroads and marks a crucial struggle in a fight to save and keep the people of San José here."

While I’m not against change, I am opposed to anything that harms our most vulnerable communities or negatively impacts our diverse cultures. The introduction of Google to our city would do precisely that, by inflating rents and living costs, and consequently displacing generations of San José residents and history. We’ve seen it in neighboring cities and are already in a housing shortage crisis along with ridiculous rents. The proposed Google campus brings San José to a crossroads and marks a crucial struggle in a fight to save and keep the people of San José here.

I’m 33 years old. I have spent every one of those 33 years in San José. I met my wife in high school in East San José, we’ve spent all our 7 years of marriage here and brought two beautiful boys into the world here. I’ve lived in Seven Trees, Berryessa, Downtown, near Story & King Roads, a block from Independence High School, near the fairgrounds, on the South Side, the North Side, the East Side and even on the West side in Willow Glen. I grew up spending most weekends at the Flea Market, birthdays at Kelley Park and holidays at my Grandma’s house on Buckner Drive. We’d eat, and fight, but we were together. I got to see all my cousins, aunts and uncles probably too much. This was back when all my family could still afford to live in San José. As I got older, more of us scattered and my family hasn’t been the same since. I want families to stay together.

Right now, on two incomes my family will likely never be able to buy a home of our own in San José. Both my wife and I work for a local school. I can’t imagine the toll it would take on our family if we couldn’t be together daily, but that is what families are increasingly being asked to do in the hunt for affordable shelter. I know from experience how hard it is as a child to move around a lot. The bouncing around was stressful for my mom, who pretty much raised my brothers and I alone.  Her energy affected all of us, and I don’t want my children to go through the same thing.

Displacement puts families through hell and I refuse to accept the lie that it is anything other than an act of hostility against poor people to allow someone else to make more money at the expense of the rest of us.

I’m afraid that rising rents will continue forcing families out of the school district where I work, and that the declining enrollment will cost me my job. I’m scared that losing my job will mean my family won’t be able to pay our bills and that we’ll be forced to the leave the city. I’m scared that the disruption to the lives of my two children, possibly being away from extended family and having to adapt to a new environment, could affect their education and health outcomes as it has so many other children who’ve been displaced. I’m worried because I’m getting older and I don’t have a college degree, and finding work and building roots in a new city would be difficult. I’m scared that I may have to commute to work daily, keeping me away from home and my family. I think of all the moments I’d miss and I’m scared that the constant grind on all of us will destroy my family.

"...when I dig to the root of why I spend my time organizing against this beast, I end up with my fear. Fear that my story, my history, in this city will be erased and forgotten forever."

I could tell you a lot about how gentrification and displacement are unjust and cruel. I could say that it’s wrong for our public servants to negotiate a deal with Google behind closed doors. I could say that the tech industry insulates itself and does not share its prosperity with neighbors. I believe all of these things. But when I dig to the root of why I spend my time organizing against this beast, I end up with my fear. Fear that my story, my history, in this city will be erased and forgotten forever.

I don’t want Google to come to San José because I want to exist.


Related Media:
When Google and the City of San José Make Plans Behind Closed Doors

East Palo Alto RV Residents Fight Against Displacement
Displacing the Unprofitable and Undesirable in San Jose's Fountain Alley




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