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Los Gatos Councilwomen Issue Disclaimer About Albright Way Project Petition

Former mayor and current Council member Barbara Spector and Vice Mayor Marcia Jensen say their names were used in mass mailer and advertisement without their knowledge; say they're not publicly endorsing Albright Way project ballot measure.

Los Gatos Councilwomen Barbara Spector and Marcia Jensen issue a disclaimer about a mass mailer sent to town homes in late November in support of a petition supporting the controversial Albright Way office park project. Photo by Sheila Sanchez
Los Gatos Councilwomen Barbara Spector and Marcia Jensen issue a disclaimer about a mass mailer sent to town homes in late November in support of a petition supporting the controversial Albright Way office park project. Photo by Sheila Sanchez
Los Gatos Councilwomen Barbara Spector and Marcia Jensen have issued a disclaimer about a mass mailer sent to town homes in late November in support of a petition in favor of the controversial Albright Way office park project being circulated for signatures.

The women say in the disclaimer notice that their names were improperly used in the mailer and in a one-page advertisement published in the Nov. 26, 2013 Los Gatos Weekly-Times.

"These acts have raised questions in the community as to whether we are publicly endorsing the Albright Way ballot measure," Spector and Jensen write in the disclaimer, which also ran as a letter to the editor in the Dec. 10 edition of the weekly newspaper.

"In response, we wish to make it clear that we continue to support the action taken by the town council to approve an office development that includes space for Netflix. However, the project proposed in the initiative contains differences that were not approved by the council, including changes to the land use laws contained in our General Plan and zoning ordinances. Furthermore, neither of us, nor any other member of the town council, has taken a position on the proposed ballot initiative," the women's statement said.

Los Gatos government officials are preparing to post on their website a list of differences between what the Los Gatos Council approved related to the project and the initiative.

In mid-December, the "We Support Los Gatos" organization which has been supporting the project submitted more than 4,100 signatures to the Los Gatos town clerk to qualify a citizens’ initiative in support of the Albright Way office park project desired for expansion by online media streaming giant Netflix.

Some of the differences between the project the Council approved and what's being proposed by the initiative which will be on the June 3 ballot are:

  • It changes the Los Gatos General Plan and zoning maps by creating its own Albright Specific Plan. It therefore "legalizes" the greater heights and therefore prevents the town from interpreting its own General Plan through the Planned Development process.
  • It allows elevated walkways/skybridges between the buildings. The elevated walkways (pictured in the initiative petition on the Los Gatos government website are NOT counted as square footage.
  • It allows the buildings to cover more of the lot.
  • It limits the developer's "community benefit" contribution to the town to $450,000. The Council decision required $1 per constructed square foot ($450,000). By not counting the square footage in the elevated walkways, the developer is actually paying less than the Council required.
  • It does not allow ANY changes to the Albright Specific Plan (if it passes) by any means except another ballot measure and Town-wide vote until June 2021.  Meaning the Planning Commission and/or Town Council can't make any changes to it prior to that date.
  • The initiative approves an office development consisting of four Class A commercial buildings, two at 65 feet tall and two at 50 feet, plus a three-story garage at 35 feet.

The edifices will be located next to Highway 85 and near the planned end of the Vasona Light Rail Line. Netflix has signed leases for two of the buildings.

The group Los Gatos Citizens for For Responsible Development has been watching over the project from the onset, challenging it after the Council approved it in August of 2011 on a 3-2 vote due to the lack of an environmental impact report.

The Citizens prevailed in court in April of 2012 and the Council rescinded its prior approvals and began again, this time completing the EIR. The group, however, began challenging the project as of late on the basis of its magnitude, contending the town's General Plan caps buildings in the light industrial zone at 35 feet.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph H. Huber ruled that the Albright Way office park project, the future site of Netflix's expansion, is consistent with the Los Gatos General Plan.

Huber's order, issued Dec. 13, was being hailed as another victory for the developer of the project, John R. Shenk on behalf of Los Gatos Business Park LLC and the Town of Los Gatos.


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Marilyn Leonard January 02, 2014 at 10:03 PM
Whoa - how horrible that their names would be used without their permission. This whole situation seems to be getting out of hand.
Anne Marie Robinson January 02, 2014 at 11:28 PM
Thank you to the Patch for writing the truth about the initiative. This initiative is not what was approved in June. Before you vote, be responsible and read the over 300 page initiative, understand what you are voting for before you make changes to the General Plan that you will regret later. Don't be fooled by "Big Money" and the "We Support Los Gatos" slogan. Vote "NO" in June on the Albright Way Ballot Measure.
John January 03, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Doesn't the ballot initiative also give to a nonelected official, the Community Development Director the exclusive authority to decide if the Developer The Carlyle Group/Peter Pau are in compliance with the proposed Specific Plan? Is this big outside money (170B) deciding how the Town should make land use decisions? Is the public being repeatedly misled by Carlyle? Didn't Netflix issue a disclaimer after signature gatherers misled the public that Netflix was leaving? Now Carlyle misleads the public about its project and TC action? And didn't Carlyle mislead with its feasibility report? Why should we vote for Carlyle's ballot initiative when it has repeatedly tried to trick us? Does Carlyle have no shame? No sense of decency? No sense of telling us the truth?
Bill Applegate January 03, 2014 at 01:50 PM
John, you just don't get it do you? You are the one who tried to decide how the Town should make land use decisions when you filed your lawsuit. You are the sole reason why the developer created this ballot initiative in the first place and it is costing the taxpayers of our town $100k. For you to complain that the developer is trying to take away land use decisions when that is exactly what you are trying to do is quite possible the most hypocritical thing ever.
AR January 03, 2014 at 02:21 PM
this is just getting more and more weird. do people understand that at a minimum, the project as approved by the council is already underway? you are not voting on IF this land will be developed...i'm not even sure if you're voting on HOW this land will be developed...it seems more of a political stunt, much in the same way the doomed lawsuits against this project were nothing more than a political stunt. "john" - please do not respond, you just keep retyping the same posts and i already have read your talking points
John January 03, 2014 at 02:31 PM
Bill: Thank you for expressing your strong opinion. I gather you and I want what is best for the Town. We just have a difference on how to get there. I appreciate your passion. Yes, we filed the lawsuit for the EIR because the law required it, and Carlyle tried to get away without one. The court ordered it. Do you agree we did the right thing to file suit to obtain the EIR? Your position suggests any citizen who applies the law and uses the courts to challenge a government/developer decision is wrong. I respectfully disagree. We have a Town General Plan ("GP"). The law is clear, fundamental, and mandatory terms must be followed. Do you agree with that law? The GP stated a 35-foot maximum height limit, with rigid development standards. In my humble view, that language sounds clear, fundamental and mandatory. The courts are the forum to decide the issue. I assume you agree with the rule of law, right? I assume you agree that there is a legal right in America to have Judge Huber's decision reviewed de novo by the appellate court, right? Let's assume for a moment that you are entirely correct in your position, does that justify Carlyle misleading the Town's people in a public mailer, which required a public disclaimer by Council Members Spector and Jensen? Does that justify misleading citizens about Netflix leaving the Town, which required a public disclaimer by Netflix? Does that justify a misleading feasibility report submitted to move the Staff to reject the EIR best developed use of 350,000? More fundamentally, do you think Carlyle has misled the Town in any way? I'm for development, just at the EIR best of 350,000 which keeps Netflix (only need 242,500), and raises up to 900K in monies for schools. Win-Win-Win. I gather you are for more traffic at the 485,000. We respectfully have a difference of values. I value the environment--I think it is a moral issue, particularly with Global Warming. I feel bad we are leaving an environmental mess for our children, and their children. We are falling far short of Greatest Generation of WWII. I fear with another 3,900 car trips per day (based on 8 employees/1,000 square feet--the new high tech collaboration way which Netflix has espoused) on Winchester, and San Jose moving from 13th to 5th worst traffic in the county in just one year, that Winchester Blvd. and Lark will be a traffic nightmares. I feel for the Charter Oaks people that have entirely unnecessary 50 and 65-foot tall buildings, and a 35-foot parking garage, adjacent to their homes. Lezli Logan is against a 2nd-story next to her home--she wants her views and privacy. I hope she joins in our fight to keep the privacy, views and less traffic that would accrue with structures at Albright at no more than 35-feet. One of the Developers, Peter Pau (principal of Sand Hill properties), has filed suits regarding the Town Center in Sunnyvale. So if he uses the legal system to assert their rights, can't citizens do the same? What is good for the goose is good for the gander, right Are you interested in the Town citizens being provided accurate factual information from Carlyle? Thank you for considering these ideas, as the exchange of concepts through the Constitutional First Amendment Right of Free Speech is a wonderful way to test and explore for the best ideas for the public good. If you ever wish to chat over coffee these ideas, let me know. John:)
John January 03, 2014 at 02:34 PM
AR: How do you feel about the misinformation being provided the Town's people by the Developer Carlyle? JS
John January 03, 2014 at 02:51 PM
AR: Thank you for sharing. I would hope you are not trying to bully me into stop speaking out about Carlyle's push for 485,000 in violation of the General Plan. If you don't like my post, I suggest you don't read them. Do you understand that if the appellate court finds the approval illegal that the project approval can be stopped? Do you understand that there is a Motion to Stop Construction pending with the appellate court? Have you read the Initiative? Do you care about the misinformation campaign by Carlyle? Does it bother you? Are you concerned? JS:)
Bill Applegate January 03, 2014 at 03:29 PM
John: I didn't read your response because I'm sure it's the same old nonsense that the court has proven to be wrong. At this point, all you have done is convince me to change my vote to yes purely out of spite. Just let it be know that you and your friends are the ones who opened the door to try and manipulate the Town's land use decisions. You are just too blinded to see that while you were holding the door open, a 300lb gorilla came walking in.
John January 03, 2014 at 04:38 PM
I'm sorry Bill chose not to read my posts, and I respect his decision not to. It is so easy to makes claims like "nonsense". It is so easy to overlook that we were dead on right to seek a court order for an EIR. If Bill choses to not acknowledge even this fact, then sadly it appears there is nothing to discuss. I seek to discuss specifics, the facts, and if an error on the facts, I am open to correction. If someone choses to vote a certain way out of "spite" because someone else takes reasonable positions in court and before the TC (remember the EIR said the best developed land use was 350K, so our position was reasonable), then there is not much to discuss. I am sorry he was so emotionally angry for my merely offering my views. As for the 300 lb gorilla, which I assume is Carlyle, if we did not stand up to them, the truth is there would be approved 85-foot tall buildings at Albright now, 550K square feet of office space, with the option of 160 residential units, a 20-year Development Contract and no EIR. If Bill and others are for all that, then we could not disagree more. Such a position it seems to me is entirely pro-Carlyle, without a reasonable and empathic balancing of their other interests, the GP, Charter Oaks, Traffic, views, and what is the best developed land use for Los Gatos, 350K. 350K remains a win-win-win for the Town, Netflix and our children's environment. Yes! Where is the empathy? Where is the protection of our own self-interest in avoiding traffic gridlock on Winchester? John:)
JR January 03, 2014 at 10:08 PM
Get over it !!
JR January 03, 2014 at 10:09 PM
John, Get over IT !!. Traffic is coming and it's all part of getting Los Gatos to grow. We need the tax revenues. The schools need money. The town needs a class A company like Netflix so that it can stay up with San Jose. Additional pollution, so what!? That's progress and anyway, the air is getting better everyday. Traffic is alittle heavy during commute hours, but it's cleared up by 10. That's what growth is all about and you need to figure that out. Are you stuck in the past?. Get over it and knock off suing big developers. Without them, we'd be a small town. We're on our way to success with Netflix finally telling the town government what it needs to grow. Tree hugger !
Lee Quintana January 03, 2014 at 11:58 PM
Thank you for your article providing facts on the differences between the Albright Planned Development approved by the Town Council and as proposed in the Albright Specific Plan and Zoning Initiative. I would like to add one point: If approved, any future changes to the Albright Specific Plan will be processed differently depending on whether the changes are requested by the Developer, or by the Town Council or the public. Any change proposed by the Town Council or the public will require another ballot initiative. The Developer, however, will not be subject to an Initiative even if changes are substantially inconsistent with the Albright Specific Plan and Zoning. Why the double standard?. Why change the Town's existing process? Why bypass the Town's elected officials and eliminate public input? Why a process that is easy for the developer and a process that is effort intensive and costly for the Town or the public?
John January 04, 2014 at 02:51 AM
JR: Ah my fellow resident I assume. Thank you for sharing your passionate views. I am for a balanced approach of 350K, the recommended best developed use in the the Town's own EIR, which was paid for by the Developer, The Carlyle Group. At 350K we win, win, win by taking care of Netflix (242.5K), getting up to $900K for schools, without the mess of another 1,700 car trips in and 1,700 car trips out per day on Winchester. You write: "Without them we would be a small town." Did you know the GP refers to protecting the small town character about 12 times. I gather you are against that. It appears you would like us to be a city, like Campbell or San Jose. You say "...with Netfkix telling the town what it needs to grow." I think you mean The Carlyle Group (the 170B company out of Washington, D.C.). You apparently believe the big money Developer should tell the Town what to do. My view is the Town sets the rules for Development, not the Developer Carlyle. We have different values about the importance of the best developed land use for Los Gatos. You are much more pro-business, and less interested in enforcing the rules for Big Money Developers. I gather it is your view Lezli Logan should not be challenging a second story addition next to her home based on her concerns of privacy and views, right? The improvement will bring in more money for schools, right? Is Ms. Logan stuck in the past by her position? Are you suggesting she drop her fight? Take care, John:)
John January 04, 2014 at 10:39 PM
JR: You got me thinking... What about scrapping the General Plan? Who cares about it anyway, other than a few government types? Why not just become like San Jose? How about 10 story buildings at Albright? That will bring more money to the schools, and house Netflix, Google, Facebook and some of Apple? Why not become a hi-tech hub? Traffic, who cares if falls to level F, so you have to wait 15 minutes to get from Lark to Blossom Hill, that already happens elsewhere, right? Let's bring in some more high density housing, that will bring in badly needed development fees for the Town, right? The North 40 is prime for a ten story building and 200-300 homes. This can bring in huge tax revenues. Shouldn't we share our fine schools with more students? The additional 500 kids can be taken care of with larger class sizes. How about eliminating altogether all height limits in all residential and commercial areas. Haven't you seen some good looking three and four-story homes? Why not move away from the Town to a hip City environment? Move from Bedford Falls to SF, why not? We can become the City at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In fact, why not go for twenty story building at the N. 40? Make it into a Pruneyard, only taller and more dense. Maximum density of residential and commercial uses on the same parcel can avoid commuting. Let's go big time along with Carlyle? Let's become dependent on Carlyle, and then they will take care of us? The business of Los Gatos is business, right?

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