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Judge Dismisses Public Records Lawsuit Over Google San Jose Development

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A Santa Clara County court has dismissed a public records lawsuit alleging San Jose was not transparent in its dealings with Google regarding the company's new mega-campus downtown, city officials said Tuesday.

Working Partnerships USA and the First Amendment Coalition sued the city in November 2018, saying city officials signed non-disclosure agreements to allow a "clandestine" approval process for the tech giant's purchase. The City Council approved the $110 million sale in December after a contentious, hours-long meeting during which five people were arrested and charged for protesting. County prosecutors later dropped the charges against the five.

The city maintained throughout the process that it wasn't trying to hide relevant public information. Under state law, public entities are allowed to keep negotiations confidential until they are final.

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"(T)he City's ability to obtain the best value in land transactions and to maximize community benefits it can achieve in negotiations with Google would be adversely impacted if the parties with which the City negotiates had otherwise confidential information about the City's approaches, strategies, and options," Judge Patricia Lucas said in a ruling Friday.

The two nonprofits were able to obtain thousands of documents in the course of the lawsuit, but said the city should have released the information without legal action.

"The policy of the City of San Jose should be to release all documents the public requires before they are under the pressure of litigation," a statement from Working Partnerships said. "We are proud of our work in support of transparency and open government."

Google is expected to submit its plan for the roughly 7-million-square-foot project to the city by October. The city will then begin its formal review process.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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