Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A County and Town Sue to Halt Building of a 50,000-Person Office- Park 'City.'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A County and Town Sue to Halt Building of a 50,000-Person Office- Park 'City.'

Article excerpt

It's always been difficult to know where Silicon Valley starts, or ends.

Traveling south to Coyote Valley, though, a passage occurs. Suburban tract developments and sprawling office parks suddenly give way to rolling hills of brown grass and oak trees.

Here, high technology gives way to the American West.

But with bulldozers revving up, this reminder of what all of Silicon Valley used to look like is about to disappear.

Cisco Systems, a maker of Internet hardware and - for a period earlier this year - the world's wealthiest corporation, is planning an office development so large it will create a small town of 50,000 people.

And as Silicon Valley readies to gobble up the last large swath of land on its perimeter, there are some surprising reactions.

The dotcom backlash that has rippled through a number of high- tech centers across the country is now showing up in its own home town.

And that backlash is not only raising questions about traffic, housing, and the environment, but also about technology's lasting footprint on society.

If technology represents the cutting edge of American industry, critics ask, why is its approach to land use stuck in the 1970s?

The project follows the "campus" style of development that Silicon Valley has made famous: low-slung office buildings spread across parklike settings, creating a setting that is a cross between a suburban industrial park and a leafy college.

For decades, it worked well in car-centric Silicon Valley, representing a gradual evolution from the rural-then-suburban character of the region.

A Changed Valley

But nowadays, Silicon Valley looks more like Los Angeles during rush hour than the Pleasantville it was a decade ago.

The project, which was approved unanimously by the San Jose City Council, will consume about 700 acres and employ 20,000 workers, making it the company's largest work site. With that number of workers, analysts predict a ripple effect that will quickly develop a small town of 50,000. The project will cost more than $1 billion.

Surrounding counties and cities are in a rage over the development, which they see as driving up housing prices and clogging highways. …

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