Netflix Inc.’s Los Gatos headquarters expansion survived its latest legal challenge, clearing another cloud from the horizon for the project.
A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge on Friday ruled the project’s approval was consistent with the town’s general plan. That’s a major win for the town and the Albright Way project’s development team, LG Business Park LLC, which has leased the first two buildings of the four-building, 485,000-square-foot campus to Netflix Inc. The project, which is already under construction, is a joint venture of Sand Hill Property Co. and the Carlyle Group.
The project — located across the freeway from Netflix’s longtime home at 100 Winchester Circle — has been dogged for years by legal challenges. An earlier fight based on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) forced the town to re-approve the project, delaying it. Proponents said all along that opponents represented a small minority in Los Gatos, and risked causing Netflix to expand elsewhere or even leave Los Gatos.
The ruling on Friday comes just days after supporters of the project turned in signatures in hopes of putting an initiative on the ballot. We Support Los Gatos’ initiative would enshrine approvals for the Albright Way project directly in the town’s general plan, in effect short-circuiting future court challenges.
“Once again, the court has ruled against the desperate legal maneuverings of the few local residents who continue their attempts to kill the Netflix expansion through the courts,” said project representative John R. Shenk. “This ruling, combined with our submission of more than 4,000 signatures on our initiative petition (last) week, gives us great optimism that this issue will be decided favorably once and for all by Los Gatos voters in June of 2014.”
The opposition group, Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development, led by residentsJohn Shepherdson and Andrew H. Wu, challenged the town’s June approval, claiming it overstepped its authority in green-lighting buildings taller than what’s provided for in the town’s general plan. The town approved four buildings, two 65 feet tall and two 50 feet tall.
But Judge Joseph H. Huber disagreed, ruling that the town’s approval was in keeping with the general plan, which “is intended to meet multiple and sometimes competing policy objectives. Therefore the Town may not be able to adhere to every policy in every decision that it makes to implement this General Plan.”
“The Town Council has final discretion over which policy objective will have priority instances where there are competing policy objectives affecting a single decision,” the judge wrote.
He continued: “To the extent Petitioners cannot reconcile themselves to such land use determinations, their energies are better directed at the ballot box than the courthouse,” Huber wrote.
In an email on Friday, Rose Zoia, the attorney for Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development, said that her clients “are disappointed by remain confident and assured in their legal analysis of the General Plan inconsistency issue. Citizens are weighing their options at this time.”