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.