San Jose Mayor Apologizes for Late Disclosure on Condo Near Google Project

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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo addresses the audience at his inaugural ceremony.  (Courtesy of Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has asked the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to weigh in on his belated disclosure of ownership of a property that, years later, happens to be located near the proposed Google development downtown.

When Liccardo and Jessica Garcia-Kohl were married in 2013, she already owned the condo. But, as first reported by the San Jose Spotlight, Liccardo didn’t publicly disclose his joint interest in the unit until 2018 — when talks were already well underway for a multimillion-dollar city land sale to Google about a mile from the condo.

"The short answer is, I screwed up," Liccardo told KQED. "Basically, when we got married, I should have disclosed the fact that I owned this condo."

The mayor said he remembered he needed to file the proper paperwork with state authorities when the couple decided to sell the property. According to the San Jose Spotlight, it was sold in March 2018 for $745,000.

Why did they decide to sell it? Not, Liccardo said, to capitalize on the rising real estate market locally. "There's really no connection. We were having more and more problems with the condo — plumbing and other issues — and we decided we wanted to get out."

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Liccardo added he's still living and owning nearby. "Everybody knows that, because it's on my website. There was never any doubt about the fact that I, along with tens of thousands of other folks who own property downtown — our homes — might benefit if there’s economic development downtown."

San Jose's city attorney says the law doesn’t find conflict of interest unless a property is within 500 feet of a development. But critics of the sale to Google say it's one more thing that doesn't look good about the deal.

"Some people are making a lot of money off of this deal and there’s other people who are going to lose everything," said Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County. "They’re just being crushed by the tech industry moving into Silicon Valley, and the rents are going through the roof."

Perry believes Liccardo should have recused himself from voting on the Google project. Instead, he cast two votes in favor of it.

Scott Wagers wouldn't go that far. The pastor at CHAM Deliverance Ministry works with local politicians on behalf of the homeless and believes Liccardo is well-meaning. However, he said, "It doesn’t look good. I don’t mistrust him personally, but it creates distrust."