An Open Letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Yolanda Chavez
Jun 18 · 3 min read

Dear Mr. Pichai,

My name is Yolanda Chavez, and I am a renter in San José. I am writing to you because I am worried Google is going to force me out of my home.

I love San José. I came here from Mexico 16 years ago so my kids could have a brighter future. This is where my kids have grown up, where my son’s teachers know he loves baseball, where neighbors look out for each other.

But as my rent keeps going up, it’s getting harder and harder to stay here. I’ve had to sublet a bedroom and my living room out to strangers. Many of my friends have already been priced out, forced to move to Stockton or Modesto. One now lives in Los Baños, and has to drive back here every day to work. She leaves her house by 4am, doesn’t get home until 11pm, and barely sees her family.

I know that if Google comes to San José and doesn’t act responsibly to avoid driving rents even higher, I won’t be able to stay here either. A study by Working Partnerships USA and Beacon Economics found that your campus will cost San José renters $816 more in rent each year. I can’t afford that. I’ll have to pull my kids out of their school, out of the only community they know, away from their friends.

I am an activist with Latinos United for a New America (LUNA). When I see my neighbors suffer from injustices, I stand up. Mr. Pichai, a giant corporation forcing families out of our community is unjust. And I’m standing up, together with over 1,500 San José residents that are organizing with Silicon Valley Rising.

On Wednesday, I’ll be at your annual shareholder meeting. I’m coming to look you in the eye and ask what commitments you’ll make so your San José mega-campus doesn’t push out people like me.

The Working Partnerships study determined that Google and the City of San José need to create more than 5,000 affordable and 12,500 market rate homes to avoid more rent hikes, more people sleeping in living rooms, and more people spending hours on the road each day. Will Google do its part to build, fund and advocate for the construction of those homes? Will you help tenants facing eviction by providing resources so they can have a lawyer?

In Mountain View, I know Google offered to provide over $100 to the community for each new square foot of office space it wanted to build. Will you do the same in San José?

Your new mega-campus will rely on thousands of service workers to cook, clean, protect, and drive Google buses. These people are far more likely to be Latino and African American than the rest of your workforce. Will you ensure they have a voice on the job and the freedom to join together to negotiate better working conditions? Will you take steps to hire future engineers and programmers from San José and help provide more children in our community with education and training opportunities to prepare for these jobs?

I would like Google to come to San José. I hope my sons can go to university and then get good jobs at the new campus. But I’m worried that won’t happen if we’re forced out before they can ever step foot on a college campus.

Mr. Pichai, in San José we care about our neighbors. If you want to come into our city, we expect you to do the same. On Wednesday, I hope you’ll say what Google is going to do so that families like mine can stay in this city we love.

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