SAN JOSE — Opponents of Cisco Systems’ plan to build a $1.3 billion campus in one of the Silicon Valley’s few remaining rural areas filed suit Wednesday to halt the development or at least put it up for a referendum vote.
The suit seeks to override the City Council’s Jan. 16 decision that effectively killed a bid to let voters decide whether to proceed with the 688-acre office park. City officials claimed the petition was legally flawed.
“Today’s legal action is taken to vindicate the constitutional rights of those who signed the petition,” said Brian Grayson, spokesman for the People for Livable and Affordable Neighborhoods, which filed the lawsuit.
Cisco, the city’s largest private employer and a leading manufacturer of equipment that runs the Internet, says its proposed campus is well planned out and sensitive to preserving open space.
City officials approved the project in October.
But opponents argued the complex and its 20,000 workers would worsen the area’s already snarled traffic and make housing prices soar in nearby communities. They launched the petition drive and gathered 40,000 signatures.
Just after the signatures were collected, lawyers for the city and Cisco said it was fatally flawed because it focused on the density of development allowed on the North Coyote Valley site and the amount of open space required.
Such factors are administrative decisions, which are not subject to referenda, said San Jose City Attorney Richard Doyle. The City Council agreed and tabled the ballot measure.
The lawsuit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, names the city of San Jose and the City Council. It specifically requests that the council repeal the planning amendments that allow construction or submit the plan to voters.
The city attorney did not return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, at least four other lawsuits against the development have been filed related to its environmental impact report. Plaintiffs of those include the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, the city of Salinas, Santa Cruz County and the Sierra Club.
Despite the litigation, project organizers expect to begin work on the massive complex later this winter, said Cisco spokesman Eric Morley.
He added more than 110,000 San Jose residents have signed petitions in support of the campus.
On the Net:
San Jose City Council: http://www.ci.san-jose.ca.us/cty—clk/agenda.htm
Coyote Valley Research Park: http://www.c-v-r-p.com/overview.html