Google has been approved to buy $110 million worth of public land in San Jose, Calif., following a unanimous vote by the San Jose City Council after midnight Tuesday night.
The plan to add roughly 20,000 jobs by 2035 would make (GOOG) the largest private employer in San Jose, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Protestors, unsure whether those jobs would truly improve the community, disrupted the lengthy meeting, which lasted more than 10 hours. Eight were arrested after chaining themselves to chairs inside the council chambers, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
With the San Francisco Bay Area in the midst of a housing crisis, protestors said the search giant’s expansion in San Jose would further drive up housing prices and cause additional displacement of residents already struggling to afford the area’s sky-high rents. More than 200 people came to speak at the hearing, many against the land sale. “For 30 years, the city has made promises about affordable housing, and they always fall short,” Pastor Sandy Perry of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County told KTVU.
Protestors also took issue with Google’s diversity, noting that the company’s most recent diversity report showed just 2.5% of employees are black and 3.6% are Latino.
San Jose’s deputy city manager Kim Walesh said that the city is simply trying to bring in badly needed jobs. “San Jose is still technically a bedroom community,” she said at the hearing, according to the Chronicle “Our job growth has not kept pace.” And unlike recent deals Amazon inked in New York and Virginia, Google is not receiving subsidies and tax breaks from San Jose, according to the Mercury News.
While the sale has now been approved and will move forward, the final approval on the overall San Jose campus plan is expected to take several more years.