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Tech Campus Project in San Jose Hit With Environmental Lawsuit

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- The Sierra Club is suing the city of San Jose over a proposed new office complex on the banks of the Guadalupe River.

The Boston Properties project would be 17 stories tall with a million and a half square feet of office space, plus street level retail and three levels of underground parking to Almaden Boulevard and Woz Way.

"This project as its developed will bring a lot more people, a lot more jobs and a lot more activity to the center of the downtown," said Scott Knies, Executive Director of the San Jose Downtown Association.

The west side of the project is designed to hug the banks of the Guadalupe River. That's where it is running afoul of environmental groups who say the building will be too close to the river and could harm the environment and wildlife that live there.

"The closer a development comes to a stream, the more pollution there is, the more damage there is, and the worse off wildlife and water quality become," said President of the Sierra Club's Loma Prieta chapter James Eggers.

The Sierra Club filed suit against San Jose, alleging the city council violated its own existing riparian waterway policy when it approved the project.

The policy established setbacks for new construction on riverbanks.

"We called to the owners' attention that there was a city ordinance requiring setbacks, and they said they couldn't do that. It wouldn't pencil out. We said the ordinance is not to help you pencil out. It's to help the city, the people, and the natural resources," Eggers explained.

But project backers say the development could improve this section of the river, which is already under stress from trash, traffic and encampments.

City officials were not available for comment on the project which will now likely be delayed until the case is settled.

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