Science & Technology

Sun's Spot?


Sun Microsystems Inc. thought it had cleared the final hurdle preventing it from building a 1 million-square-foot, $230 million R&D complex in Santa Clara when it won approval from the city council last October. (See "Growing Pains," February.) Sun was wrong.

True to their word, a coalition of Silicon Valley preservationists and anti-growth activists gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the measure. Hoping to preserve historic buildings on the grounds of the former Agnews Developmental Center, the Agnews Preservation and Open Space Referendum Committee sent volunteers throughout the city to gather signatures. Sun, for its part, sent glossy brochures of the proposed development to Santa Clara registered voters.

With plans to begin construction next January, Sun had pushed for an April special election; the preservationists sought a November vote. A special election would have cost the city $100,000, which Sun offered to pay. The city council selected a compromise date: The vote will occur on the same day as the statewide June primary.

But even if the development agreement wins voter approval–and it has the support of residents in neighboring communities who hope the campus will spur new grocery stores, gas stations, and other amenities–Sun must await the outcome of a recently filed lawsuit challenging its environmental impact report. The case is scheduled to be heard in Santa Clara Superior Court in March.