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Los Gatos' Albright Way/Netflix Office Park Initiative Qualifies For June Ballot

An architectural rendering of what the Albright Way office park project would look like once finished at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Albright Way in Los Gatos. Courtesy John Shenk
An architectural rendering of what the Albright Way office park project would look like once finished at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Albright Way in Los Gatos. Courtesy John Shenk
The Town of Los Gatos has posted a notice on its website saying it's learned from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Office that a sufficient number of valid signatures were submitted to qualify the Albright Way office park petition for the June 3 ballot.

The Los Gatos Town Council will discuss action related to the initiative at its Feb. 3 meeting, the notice said. 

On Friday, Barry Barnes, the political consultant working on the initiative, also sent an email to Los Gatos Patch saying the Registrar had certified the initiative signatures needed to take the issue to the voters this summer. 

The Registrar certified 3,020 valid signatures after the group "We Support Los Gatos" had gathered more than 4,000 in December, when it only needed  1,896 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The group backing the Albright Way office park project at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Highway 85 announced Wednesday that a poll conducted by a public research firm reveals "overwhelming" support for the controversial plan.

If approved, the initiative would modify the Los Gatos General Plan to allow for the four-building office park at 485,000 square feet and a parking garage.

Two of the edifices would be built at 65 feet and two at 50 feet, plus a three-story garage at 35 feet.

The structures would be located next to Highway 85 and near the planned end of the Vasona Light Rail Line

The project, which has been approved by the Los Gatos Town Council, is being challenged in court by another group of residents calling themselves "Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development."

The "Citizens" are opposing the project due to the height of the buildings, which will exceed their desired 35-feet allotment they perceive as being binding in the town's General Plan.

The poll, conducted by the Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates firm, or FM3, found that a ballot initiative to bypass the legal challenges and proceed with the project enjoys more than 78 percent of support from the Los Gatos electorate, Barnes said.

"This data shows that the measure is well positioned for a strong victory in the June 2014 election," Barnes said.

Once built, the project would allow Los Gatos-based Netflix, the world's largest subscription TV streaming service with more than 40 million subscribers, to move into two of the four buildings, expanding from its current campus at 100 Winchester Circle. 

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KATHRYN January 26, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Seems wherever there might be a patch of land, something is built on it, thus Los Gatos is becoming a concrete jungle!
Jennifer January 26, 2014 at 08:13 PM
When will the town's comparison be available of what this initiative asks for vs. what was approved? Did the 'poll' point out those differences or just ask what the opinion was of keeping the anchor tenant? As I understand it, the developer is asking significantly more than what was approved. The biggest thing is they are asking for the Town's community manager to approve any changes to their designs - bypassing the Town's process. How much could the developer ask to change that one person in the Town offices could allow. This initiative is very bad for the Town.
Townie January 26, 2014 at 08:58 PM
I hope people recognize that this initiative was put forward by a multi-billion dollar out-of-town developer and that it changes the way design modifications will be approved for this particular project. Do we want rich out-of-towners dictating how our Town operates? This developer hired signature gatherers who presented false information to potential signers. The man who approached me said that Netflix wanted to build a building. I wonder if the people who overwhelmingly supported the initiative realize that, when the project is finished, there will be 3,000 more cars in the Lark/Winchester area. I know that people support this initiative because they believe it will increase school revenues. I wish they recognized that the schools would have received almost the same amount of revenues with lower buildings, buildings that conform to the 35-foot limit mandated in the Town Plan. I strongly support our local schools and donate money to them, but creating buildings that are excessively high for a small town like ours and that will damage the quality of life of the many people who live nearby is not the way to fund our schools.
John January 27, 2014 at 12:29 AM
The ballot measure gives exclusive authority to a nonelected official, the Community Development Director, for further land use decisions on the project. The TC, the PC and public input and comment are being shutout of the decision-making process. If we wouldn't want that for the other decisions in this Town, why violate our standards and values on this project? Where is the public accountability and government transparency for that?
Tony Alarcon January 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM
The space Netflix is leasing would be more that covered with Four 35' tall buildings. The SOLE reason for the ballot is additional footage so the developer can make more profits on the additional height (They do make profits at Four 35" tall buildings) AND control the direction of FUTURE projects like the North 40. ITS NOT ABOUT NETFLIX YOU ARE BEING LIED TO. If this passes this will set legal precedence not only for Los Gatos but other towns in CA. You are being duped.
Robbie T January 27, 2014 at 04:23 PM
Seriously guys? There are 2 million people in this valley, and just because you draw some arbitrary borders around your neighborhood doesn't mean you live in some kind of small town. I'm all for using zoning to protect and preserve historically significant or unique places like downtown Los Gatos, but if you're fighting on the basis that four or five stories is out of place in the middle of one of America's most productive metro areas? Get over yourselves.
John January 27, 2014 at 04:49 PM
Robbie: I suggest you review the General Plan, small town character is listed something like 12 times. Also, a study found that the town has brought in over $300 million from visitors alone. This money feeds our schools, unique local businesses, and Town government. Visitors come here for the quaint small town character. They will not be coming her to see 4 story Albright buildings, which make us look like just another silicon valley city. You wish a City in the Town, and if you take a poll of Los Gatos citizens, I think you would find overwhelming support for keeping the Town a town and its small town character, including avoiding the traffic jams of other local municipalities. Thank you for considering these thoughts. JS:)
Robbie T January 27, 2014 at 05:08 PM
Yes, I understand and agree that Los Gatos has a "small town character" that it would like to preserve. However by any objective measure, be it commute patterns, land use or values, traffic, the fact that a major company is headquartered here, Los Gatos is not a small town. Just because citizens like to think of it as a small town doesn't make it so, if you took Los Gatos and plopped it out on its own, somewhere in the midwest, those same citizens would be gone in a heartbeat.
LGHW January 27, 2014 at 05:21 PM
To the LGCRD . . . You guys are typical intelligenstia that think that you are smarter than everyone else and that your opinion should count more than anyone else's. You think that we have all been "confused" and "fooled" by the developer's "deceptive" language in their petition and that we were all "stalked" and "targeted" at the grocery store to sign their petition. You also think that if you just point to the General Plan and lecture us a little more about YOUR vision of Los Gatos that a light bulb will go off in all of our tiny little average brains and see things your way. YOU are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT and anyone who doesn't see things your way is ABSOLUTELY WRONG. No wonder you don't want this to come to a public vote. Your opinion is a minority opinion and the best you can do is to hang this up in the courts and COST your lovely bucolic town of Los Gatos ALOT OF MONEY TO HOLD A SPECIAL ELECTION. Now who doesn't have the town's best interests at heart?
old neighbor dude January 27, 2014 at 05:28 PM
Rigth on Robbie. I find it somewhat comical reading about Los Gatos's small town feel as well. It's just the rich people trying to pretend they aren't big city dwellers. Los Gatos is anything but a small town. If it were so small you wouldn't have locals driving their gas guzzler 2 miles to get a loaf of bread.
John January 27, 2014 at 06:52 PM
SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP. Don't those those millionaires need our help? Don't they need the money? They just don't make enough around the rest of the planet, so they need the help of our Town, right? Good profits are not enough, they need HUGE profit. Keeping Netlflix is not enough, they need another 242,500 square feet to fatten their profits. So, join the cause, SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP. Who cares about traffic, views, neighbors. SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP, and keep their profits really happy.
Jeff Loughridge January 27, 2014 at 07:23 PM
The information that the residents who responded to the developer's poll, was provided by the developer's marketing campaign. Who else has gotten to so many people in Los Gatos with any other kind of message? Whether you like the term small town feel or not, it is part of what keeps our housing values up. I'm not rich but I own in Los Gatos. Do I want our town to be a Metro Area so people who live in other areas can commute to my town and add to our already overburdened traffic situation? No. Doesn't mean I don't want to see a development at the Albright site. I am also ALL for Netflix staying in town. As far as school money is concerned, the schools will get moneys based on the size of the development, period. No argument. Los Gatos is a great place to live. This is due at least in part, to how well our planning department works to keep a good mix of businesses. We are not Sunnyvale, Cupertino, or San Jose. For that I'm happy, and I'd like it to stay that way. I don't need a developer from Washington D.C. coming into our town telling us how we should live.
LGHW January 27, 2014 at 07:37 PM
Another 242,500 sqft could provide jobs for a lot of people. Those people could potentially already be current Los Gatos residents. Those neighbors may have been out of work or under employed! Having close proximity employment could also mean less gas usage and less pollution for the area. These new jobs could also attract people to move here to be closer to work. It would be nice if Los Gatos had a more diverse mix of jobs available for the surrounding area. Or yes, the jobs would bring people from out of the area to work in Los Gatos. They will bring their wallets with them and shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants. I am sure that they will drive around as courteously as everyone else in the area. I am not opposed to a business earning a profit nor am I offended that it is not a Los Gatos developer.
Bill Applegate January 27, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Unfortunately, it looks like Albright is going to be the sacrificial lamb. Hopefully it will quell the forces that have tried to hijack the planning process from out town. It's too bad that a small group of individuals that feel they know better than everyone else can cost our Town $100k and then try and shift the blame to everyone but themselves. The Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development have opened the floodgates on this one and have laid out the blueprint for any developer to come into our Town and circumvent our process. Let's all give a round of applause to these kind folks who tried to save us from ourselves. As they say, be careful for what you wish for.....
John January 27, 2014 at 07:51 PM
SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP, at the expense of traffic, small town character, the GP and nearby neighbors. It was not very courteous of the lead Petitioner Leslie Logan for throwing the North side homeowners under the business with traffic, loss of views and privacy, while then publicly objecting based on loss of privacy and views, to a 2-story home next to her 2-level home, in an area filled with 2-stories. Of course, as Lincoln said, "Moral principle is a weaker bond than pecuniary interest." Why the double standard? SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP is the answer. Forget what the EIR said was the best land use, 350K, fatten up the land with 550K, and then 485K, so they get their HUGE profits. You think those misleading mailings tell the truth? People think the approved project and the ballot project are the same, and why try to trick the public, their are millions to be made, for the millionaire investors. Did you all know the land use decisions are, per the ballot, going forward to be made by the Community Development Director? THE CARLYLE GROUP IS HIJACKING THE TOWN'S DECISION-MAKING PROCESS. Read the ballot, see for yourselves. You'all comfortable with a nonelected official deciding? SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP!
Bill Applegate January 27, 2014 at 08:24 PM
No, John we are not comfortable with a non-elected official deciding, but then again you were never elected when you decided to pursue your lawsuit to try and force all of us to accept your vision of what out Town should be. Remember, you are the one who hijacked the town's decision-making process with your lawsuit, and now we are unfortunately going to wind up with whatever the developer decided to include in the initiative. Maybe if you went to the developer and the Town and apologized for all the mess you have made and promise to not pursue any appeal, maybe they will drop this silly initiative and save us all a bunch of money.
John January 27, 2014 at 08:53 PM
SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP, those millionaires need the money? And let's cause ourselves 3K car trips a day to help them make HUGE profits? THE CARLYLE GROUP did not get an EIR. The law required it. The Court ordered it. Citizens deserve credit for that, right? I mean who wants 85-foot tall buildings? A 20 year development year contract, 20-years! And 550K, with an option of 160 residential? If some wanted those things, then THE CARLYLE GROUP and you are aligned. Next, SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP did not need to bring the ballot. They can build right now! Did you know that? There is nothing to stop them. So why the ballot, because they fear they will lose, that they broke the law a second time. Do you think THE CARLYLE GROUP should get away with breaking the law? Nope THE CARLYLE GROUP brought the ballot, and we are paying for it. If anyone is an environmentalist, the clear winner was the EIR best of 350K. All the Town's experts signed off it. What did THE CARLYLE GROUP do, those fine millionaires went for 550K, and did not do what was best for the environment, because they wanted more money. So we are SAVING THE CARLYLE GROUP at the expense of the Town and planet, wow! We are some kind of generous Town. SAVE THE CARLYLE GROUP!
AR January 27, 2014 at 10:48 PM
John - you're losing it. You should consider handing over communications to someone else in your group...your rants are getting more unhinged.
John January 28, 2014 at 01:28 AM
AR: You comments remind me of a story. The solicitor wrote a note in the case file for the barrister. It said "No case. Attack the lawyer". Cheerio!:)
Maria Ristow January 28, 2014 at 02:17 AM
There is enough blame to go around. BAD: The developer wanted too much. The prior town council granted too much. (550K sf at 85 feet tall plus residential at Albright.) GOOD: The Citizens sued for an EIR and won. (Saved us all from 550K sf, 85 ' bldgs. and residential at Albright.) BAD: The developer came back and got most of what they asked for from present Town Council. (485 sf, but at 50' and 65' high) BAD: The Citizens sued and lost. (Should have licked wounds and moved on.) WORSE: Developer filed for initiative and town flooded with lying paid petitioners. Netflix! Schools! (Why not homeless puppy shelters too?) WORST: Initiative will give developer MORE than TC granted, election will cost town $$, people divided over this issue. All for $$$. And Charter Oaks counts for nothing. Everyone shares some of the blame, but the residents will have to live with the mess. Lessons learned???? Pay attention to projects before they get to Planning Commission. Write to PC and TC with concerns. Follow all projects start to finish. VOTE for Council people whom uphold the values that make LG a great place to live.
Maria Ristow January 28, 2014 at 02:27 AM
Also, the reality is that even if the courts upheld the 35' linit from the General Plan, that would benefit Charter Oaks, but not the rest of the town. The 485K could still be developed, but there would be more buildings with more land coverage. As long as the Town Council continues to approve Planned Developments that increase the intensity of use all over town, we will have bigger developments with increasing traffic issues. Los Gatos is a constrained area with limited N-S and E-W routes. None of our roads can really be widened, nor can we add another way through town. The Light Rail sounds great. I doubt it will be realized in most of our lifetimes. Good thing I like to walk and bike. I imagine I will have more pedestrian company as traffic continues to worsen.
Jan Prinzivalli January 28, 2014 at 01:29 PM
Why did the developers hire paid petition gatherers to dupe citizens by saying signatures were needed to keep Netflix/School Funds? Netflix previously signed a ten year lease. Even at 35 feet there is plenty of room for the company. Netflix was forced to print a statement of the company's intent to stay in LG. Why did the developer use the names of two council members, Barbara Spector and Marcia Jensen, in initiative publicity. The council women printed a statement saying their names were used without initiative endorsement. Why is the developer printing and mailing flyers to every address in town? Maybe they are worried given their exploits that the initiative will not pass. Why do the developers need control until 2021 to complete the Albright Development? Is this the first of many towering developments in town? WHY IS THE DEVELOPER SPENDING ALL THIS MONEY TO BUY OUR TOWN??? Read initiative summary on town website: http://ca-losgatos.civicplus.com/documents/6/7/Title%20and%20Summary_201311131610232574.pdf
John January 29, 2014 at 01:26 PM
The Carlyle Group's Hostile Takover of the Town of Los Gatos How? The Ballot calls for taking away oversight from the Town Council, Planning Commission, and placing it in one nonelected person's hands, the Community Development Director. The Ballot also takes away public hearing input on decision-making. I bet the well-respected moderate Planning Commissioner Tom O'Donnell is against such a huge change in land use decision-making. JS

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