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Proposed Cisco Systems campus in Coyote Valley project overview update -- March 9, 2000

Reported and written by Scott Scholz

Thursday night, the Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group hosted a community meeting at Martin Murphy Middle School. About 150 community members attended and mingled with neighbors and viewed maps and design plans of the proposed Cisco Systems campus for North Coyote Valley. Representatives from Cisco Systems, Coyote Valley Research Park and Devcon were available to answer questions and pass out additional literature. STCAG president, Elizabeth Cord, gave a brief community update and then asked Steve Speno, Gibson-Speno and Coyote Valley Research Park, and Ellen Jamason, Director of Real Estate for Cisco Systems, to stand and be recognized as the authors of the letter to Mayor Ron Gonzales expressing their opposition to the proposed Calpine power plant in North Coyote Valley.


David Rogan, Vice President and Treasurer of Cisco Systems, was the first speaker. He shared some of the history of the company, Cisco's community involvement and some of their goals for the company. He said 80% of the Internet goes through Cisco Systems equipment. Cisco is headquartered in San Jose. Cisco has 26,000 employees worldwide and over 13,000 employees in Silicon Valley. Currently, the average Cisco employee earns $90,000. The company did over $12 billion in sales last year and projects to do $18 billion this year. Cisco CEO John Chambers has challenged the company to become a $50 billion company and to do that, Cisco Systems needs this North Coyote Valley campus to achieve that goal.

Cisco has created a Networking Academy at Live Oak High School. Cisco is also involved with Net Day, Net Aid, Second Harvest Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes Family Kitchen and Habitat for Humanity. Cisco also has an employee matching gift program.

Coyote Valley

Steve Speno was the next speaker. He spoke about the recent history of the Coyote Valley and some of the economic benefits of the Cisco Systems project. The Coyote Valley Research Park land was originally purchased by the Kohl Company in 1979. Mr. Speno has been involved with the CVRP land since 1983 when it was still controlled by Kohl. The City of San Jose had planned the North Coyote Valley for high prestige campus industrial uses. The City developed strict design standards modeled after the Stanford Research Park.

The city has segmented Coyote Valley into three sections (North, Central and South). The North Coyote Valley is 1440 acres. The Cisco Systems project comprises 688 acres. The Central Coyote Valley, from just south of Laguna to Palm Avenue, is designated Urban Reserve. Ultimately, 25,000 homes of varying types will be built in Central Coyote Valley after several triggers are met. Before the Central Coyote Valley can be developed, there have to be 5,000 jobs created in Coyote Valley. San Jose also has to be able to maintain the level of services currently provided to the existing neighborhoods. The City also has to demonstrate 5 years of financial stability. The South Coyote Valley is the greenbelt buffer between San Jose and Morgan Hill.

The Cisco Campus will be a $1.3 billion project. At full build out, it will have 6.6 million square feet of office building space, it will provide 20,000 additional jobs. The project is worth $2.8 billion to the region. The project will generate $167 million in government revenues from local to state annually. City economic studies have determined, after including the City's share of the infrastructure investment to expand into the Coyote Valley, the City will enjoy a fiscal benefit of $143 million over the next 30 years.

What attracted Cisco Systems to Coyote Valley

Ellen Jamason outlined some of the major reasons why Cisco Systems chose to expand in the Coyote Valley. When looking at long term growth for Cisco and the desire to grow to a $50 billion company, the ability to attract and retain highly skilled employees in Silicon Valley was still very important. The property was already General Planned for Cisco planned uses. Quality of Life issues were conducive to their goals. There is large housing stock in the southern part of the city with current development in the Evergreen area and future housing development eventually in Central Coyote Valley. The Coyote Valley location is attractive from a transportation perspective. Since most of the existing Cisco Systems employees live along the 85/101 freeway corridor, they will be able to commute in the reverse direction. The Cisco campus will have a CalTrain station built as part of the project so employees will be able to ride CalTrain to work. The Valley Transportation Agency also intends to extend Light Rail to the Cisco Campus.

Conceptual Architectural Design of Cisco Campus

Barry Ludwig, Vice President Architecture of Devcon Construction, presented some of the conceptual designs of the proposed Cisco Systems campus. The design will take into consideration the many view sheds of the surrounding hills. The design hopes to tie into many recreational opportunities for bike trails and hopefully link the trail system to the Santa Teresa County Park trail system.

The design presented plans to have 60 percent of the buildings within 1000 feet of the Caltrain and VTA stations. Parking lots would be 600 feet from the buildings. Security is planned at the building perimeter so the entire campus would not be a gated fortress like the IBM facilities in the community. Each building is considered a neighborhood within the campus but is actually a Cisco business unit. In the center of the campus would be a plaza with a pond and many trees. From the Caltrain station to the planned Light Rail station is what the designers call Main Street. Main Street would be pedestrian friendly with the buildings along Main Street possibly looking like retail shops. However, the retail shops are internal to Cisco employees since zoning doesn't allow for public commercial uses in the campus industrial area. On site child care is planned for up to 800 Cisco employee children.


The City has completed the Environment Impact Report for the Cisco project. It is available online and at the local library. The comment period on the EIR runs until March 29th. Ms. Jamason said she expects the project hearings before the planning commission to start in June of this year. With the appropriate approvals, they plan to commence the first phase of construction in Fall 2000. The community will see more of the plans as they go through the city development process. Initial occupancy could be in early 2002.

Comments, Questions and Answers

Many people submitted comments comments expressing support for the Cisco project. There were many other comments that positive support for Cisco was contingent upon Cisco's continued opposition to the proposed power plant. The speakers repeatedly said that they plan to continue to make their views known. Many people asked how much of the campus would be accessible to the public for recreational uses.

Question: What about housing supply?

Answer: Housing development is ongoing in the Evergreen area. Cisco Systems is participating in a housing trust fund.

Question: Will Cisco still consider this site if city approves power plant?

Answer: Ellen Jamason responded that she hopes it never gets to that point. It is Cisco's belief that the proposed power plant is inconsistent with San Jose's General Plan.

Question: How will [Coyote Valley] support traffic and infrastructure in area?

Answer: There will be a freeway interchange as part of the project at Bailey Avenue and 101 which will fly over Monterey Highway to Bailey Avenue. Caltrans has already been surveying the area in preparation for the eighteen month construction project to begin later this year. It is expected to be completed around the same time of initial occupancy of the Cisco campus. A Caltrain station will also be constructed as part of the project with additional trains added to serve the region both from the North and the South.

Question: Will it still be a safe place to ride for area cyclists?

Answer: Yes. [Steve Speno].

Question: Will you be using mass media?

Answer: We will make more information available as the situation evolves.

Question: Where will Light Rail end?

Answer: The Light Rail extension is years away from being constructed. However, the median strips along Santa Teresa Boulevard were planned for Light Rail to eventually be in place. In the interim, Cisco plans to shuttle employees to and from the current end of Light Rail at Miyuki and Santa Teresa Boulevard.

Question: Will a lane be added between Highway 85 and 101 to Bailey Avenue?

Answer: Yes. There will be 6 lanes on Highway 101. It has already been engineered and surveyed.

Question: Will the parking lots be accommodating to battery chargers for electric vehicles?

Answer: Yes. Cisco actually encourages electric vehicles and currently has battery chargers at their North San Jose buildings. [Barry Ludwig]

Question: What percentage of Cisco work force uses Light Rail?

Answer: Don't know the answer to that question. [Ellen Jamason]

Question: What percentage of work force comes from outside the valley?

Question: What percentage of work force comes from abroad?

Question: Will public be able to use open spaces bordering property?

Answer: The public will be able to use the trails. We are not certain yet about the flood control area since that will be in the jurisdiction of the water district.

Question: Will the project do anything to increase the number of school classrooms?

Answer: All projects pay a development fee based on square footage. $9 million is expected to be paid annually to the Morgan Hill School District. Cisco Foundation has funded about 65% of its donations to educational purposes.

Question: What type of water use is planned (domestic or recycled)?

Answer: We will be using either municipal water or water from Great Oaks Water Company.

Question: When will the EIR be available?

Answer: It is available now. The comment period runs through March 29th. It is available online and at the library.

Question: Will you have ongoing planned development on your web site?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What is the time line from start to build out?

Answer: I don't know how long it will take. I expect Phase I, which would be about one million square feet and about three to four thousand employees, to begin occupying in the beginning of 2002. [Ellen Jamason]

Question: How does Encinal Elementary School fit in?

Answer: We are looking at circulation and access.

Question: Is the whole school going to move?

Answer: No. The distance between the school and interchange is approximately 770-1000 feet--equivalent of 3 football fields (not 300 ft.). [Per Eric Morley 3/19/2000]

Question: How will this project look compared to the North San Jose campus?

Answer: It will look significantly different. The design will have agricultural themes. It will have less uniformity and more variation between neighborhoods. [Ellen Jamason]

Question: What is the fair share cost of infrastructure?

Answer: Infrastructure costs to Coyote Valley are $325 million. The Cisco project requires no public assistance for any of the buildings or campus facilities. Governor Davis has pledged money for the freeway interchange and the Caltrain station.

Follow-up Question: You are asking the City of San Jose for $100 million?

Answer: No. That number is not correct. Public participation would be required but the benefits outweigh the public costs.

Question: Will Cisco do anything to reduce the peak electric load?

Answer: This group is not qualified to answer that question.

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