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Updated: Judge Orders Environmental Impact Report for Netflix Project

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph Huber has sided with the Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development who want developer of future Netflix project to conduct an environmental impact review.

Update: 3 p.m., April 26: The plaintiffs who sued the Town of Los Gatos and the developer of the future Netflix corporate headquarters on Winchester Boulevard and Albright Way issued a written response Thursday afternoon to the ruling:

“We are grateful for the Court’s careful, well-reasoned decision requiring the Town and the developer to follow state law prior to any further consideration of the development project," the Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development said in a press release issued by attorney Rachel Mansfield-Howlett.

"An EIR will provide the Planning Commission and Town Council with necessary information about potential development impacts and ensure that all members of the community have the opportunity to learn about and understand the environmental impacts of the Project prior to Project approval. With this information, the community and interested sister agencies can provide input about the analyses that will be conducted to minimize the chances of unforeseen, unintended, and expensive oversights. An EIR will require enforceable mitigation measures to be implemented and consideration of
alternatives to the Project that reduce impacts to the greatest degree. We are especially appreciative of and offer our thanks to those members of the community who supported our efforts,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph H. Huber sided with the Citizens who want the future Netflix campus developer to conduct an environmental impact review.

The Citizens' petition was heard on March 23 at the old Santa Clara County Courthouse and Judge Huber took a month to deliberate on its findings, ruling in favor of the EIR.

The order was issued on Monday, April 23 and Judge Huber had mailed it to the attorneys who received it Wednesday.

John Shenk, the developer of the Netflix project at the Los Gatos Business Park, located at the intersection of Albright Way and Winchester Avenue, was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, the attorney representing the Citizens, had argued that the California Environmental Quality Act mandated such a review due to the size of the project and impacts it would create such as traffic congestion.

Just one impact would trigger the preparation of an EIR, the judge said during the March 23 meeting.

"We're obviously very pleased with the decision," Mansfield-Howlett said of the 16-page ruling. "We feel that the court gave a very well reasoned decision and we're pleased that an EIR is going to be prepared and the decision hit the issues that we cared about the most."

Mansfield-Howlett said the two most significant impacts mentioned by Judge Huber were aesthetics and traffic.

Regarding traffic impacts, Judge Huber stated in his decision “… the project, together with other planned development in the area (which an EIR would have to consider) may cause further gridlock and send commuters cutting through nearby residential development in an attempt to avoid it.”

About aesthetic impacts, Judge Huber said, “Petitioners make a valid point that,
given that the MND [Mitigated Negative Declaration] does not even determine the building configuration for the project site (which is left to the developer to determine over the years depending on various factors), the assertion that there will be no significant aesthetic impacts regardless of the configuration chosen is suspect.”
LGCRD members respond to the Court’s decision:

The project calls for the demolition of five existing buildings on the 21-acre property. During its first phase, it would build a

The petition challenged Shenk's and the town's assertion that the development would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

In an email late Wednesday evening, Quintana said: "We are relieved that the wait for the decision is over and are very pleased with the judge's ruling."

Los Gatos Mayor Steve Rice said he respected Judge Huber's opinion. "We don't question the ruling. Obviously our attorney and outside counsel will have to dig into it in a little more indepth because they just got it."

Rice said it's now up to Shenk what steps he will take related to the project. The mayor also noted all five Los Gatos Town Council members voted to approve the project's so-called "negative declaration," which the Citizens felt was inadequate. He explained the council voted 3-2, with Vice Mayor Barbara Spector and Steven Leonardis opposing the project's zoning and design.

Attorneys representing the town and the developer were also not available by the time of this posting.

To read the complete ruling, please see attached pdf.

Larry Arzie April 27, 2012 at 11:10 PM
OK Johnathon I get it. You are saying that it was McNutt, Pryzinski and Rice that asked the Town Manager to break the state laws regarding an EIR and get rid of Rice at the next election. The staff report should clear up some issues and the record should speak for itself . It will be interesting to find out who brought up the idea of a negative declaration and what the possible consequences would be from the Town manager by circumventing the EIR. In either case this calls for an inquirey. I doubt the three names above will request one, indicting themselves. So lets see if the town manager is willing to give it a go since both you and Sheila think he's swell. I wonder what Citizen Ray would say if he was here. I suppose he would ask the district attorneys office to do do the inquiry. This is as constructive as I can get Sheila. Thank you Johnathan for another viewpoint.
Thomas Mangano April 28, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I would say it is a case of a Town Manager, Developer Director, and Legal Council telling the dominate powers of the City Council what they want to hear, not what they need to know. That is not good for the Town.
carol musser April 28, 2012 at 06:52 AM
It was a good read to see all the comments. Our Town has always been vocal on development decisions with those on the side of keeping a quaint closed community or those who would like to see some controlled growth. That's what keeps it all in check. If you are biased one way or another you will disagree with the Council or Commissions decisions. That does not mean that they or the Town Manager are wrong in their thinking or should be condemmed. Hopefully the EIR will answer the questions of the concerned citizens and that Netflix will be able to move on with their project. This so echoes the sentiments expressed in the planning of the newly reconstructed Safeway on Santa Cruz Ave. The traffic, the size, the design, the congestion, were fears and worries expressed by some of you. Do you still feel your concerns were not addressed? I for one feel they did a super job on this project, minimized taffic flow impact with the underground parking design and Safeway is now an enhancement to our Town. Keep communicating and do not close your minds, things can be worked out.
Katt April 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM
That you tube video KMD keeps referring to seems like propaganda. I would like to see your world without regulation. Oh, wait that was a Mel Gibson movie. Mad Max. "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it. " – Lyndon B. Johnson
Katt April 28, 2012 at 08:56 PM
KMD: Here is your Agenda 21 as written by the UN in 1992 http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/english/Agenda21.pdf Sounds Wonderful. Section III chapter 30 article b-e very informative. A lot of what is posted via internet other than actual publication is quite bias and opinionated. Seems very right -conservative and Tea partyish. Everyone should read the actual Agenda. Thank you for educating me. Agenda 21 is a GOOD thing!

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