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A Thriving Community Without Displacement

 

In light of today's anticipated vote regarding land use in our communities, our Executive Director has submitted the following letter to the Mayor’s Office and San Jose City Council.

We urge all of our allies to read and take action on our "Thriving Community Platform" today and in the months and years ahead.


Item 4.1: Actions Related to the Agreement with Google for the Diridon Station Area

Dear Mayor Liccardo and Councilmembers,

          As a place-based organization in east San Jose, working primarily with families, we see the depth and breadth of needs ranging from family resources; immigrant services; housing and shelter; and economic security, especially among women and immigrants (both documented and undocumented). We are embedded in our community and are deeply aware of the fear, anxiety and harsh realities of so many. 

          We also have witnessed our nearly 100 year old neighborhood rapidly change before our eyes over the last few years. We have seen an increase in home sales and the evictions of dozens of families; we have said goodbye to neighbors as they have been displaced to the Central Valley and beyond; we have seen our historical murals, beaming with culture and heritage erased; and we have seen our local, family-owned businesses close for good.  And, these anecdotal stories are backed by data, as “Gentrification and Displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area” by UC Berkeley and the Center for Community Innovation, shows that Mayfair, and our surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing persistent displacement, also known as advanced gentrification. 

          While we are consistently responding to community needs as a family resource center we also advance a vision that brings more equitable and sustainable investment into our neighborhood.  We are proud to have the public and private financial support of many partners. We pride ourselves in being good stewards of these dollars, implementing highly impactful, culturally relevant, and accessible programs and opportunities for, and with, our local community. In 2016 and 2018 we were thrilled to secure sizeable philanthropic dollars from Google.org to implement an innovative strategy to support economic development in our immigrant community. We have also benefited from volunteerism, event sponsorships, thought partnership and increased awareness of our work through their support. We acknowledge their philanthropic support in our local community and expect that Google will continue to forge partnerships and make investments to help alleviate so many pressing issues that our nonprofit sector works to address. 

          At the same time, we submit this letter and our attached displacement platform, A Thriving Community without Displacement in East San Jose, to ensure that all of you- our public officials, fully step into the intentional and bold leadership needed, with keen decision-making this Tuesday, and in the years to come. 

          As noted, this Google land purchase and future development will spark a fundamental change for our City. Yet, root cause analysis, and historical understanding, demonstrates that it will have both positive and negative implications. We understand that the vision of this project has the opportunity to create jobs; develop a booming downtown core; develop more affordable housing; support a stronger transportation infrastructure; and make greater investments in education, parks and other public amenities, etc. 

          However, we also know, as seen in major cities in the Bay Area and across the country, that the magnitude of this kind of development will also be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable populations within our community- homeless, under-housed, low-income, renters, minorities, immigrants, and local, family owned businesses. For some, this development will mean increased economic opportunity and wealth generation, but for far too many, this development brings about great fear and anxiety, knowing that it will only exacerbate their already tenuous living and working conditions here in San Jose/Silicon Valley, without strong interventions and accountability from our local government. 

          We understand that the cost of living and displacement are symptoms of many macro-level forces; and are not solely Google’s or the City of San Jose’s responsibility to fix.  However, we urge our local City officials to do everything you possibly can to protect our people- ALL our people. Make decisions and take actions that will not only advance opportunity for some, but ones that truly advance the common good. Center decisions on equity, and socio-economic justice; be innovative; be bold; take risks and be urgent. And remember, that the decisions you are making this week and in the coming months and years ahead, will impact San Joseans for generations to come.

          In an effort to more deeply understand these issues and help to provide solutions, we have hosted a series of our own community meetings to determine what WE expect to ensure equitable development. (See our displacement platform: A Thriving Community without Displacement in East San Jose). As our City continues to discuss the Google land sale/development, and frankly all development, we share the specific needs of the Mayfair community. 

          We believe that those directly affected by inequality must be at the table, to uplift their voice and realities, so that collectively decisions and policies protect their communities. Community residents want to engage meaningfully with our local institutions, and contribute to making this City healthy and vibrant. We urge you to adopt their vision and hear their reflections, needs and concerns and advance the noted recommendations in the platform we have co-created thus far.  

Sincerely,

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Camille Llanes-Fontanilla

Executive Director


For more information on today's City Council meeting, and to read the full agenda, click the link below.

 
Chelsey Cartwright