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The Neighbors Are Cranky About Apple’s Coming Spaceship Campus

“A traffic nightmare… urban planning gone way wrong.”

Apple’s new “Spaceship Campus,” scheduled for 2016, has drawn accolades in the design world, but some neighbors aren’t too happy. Troy Wolverton, the technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, rants in a recent column that the spaceship offers little in the way of benefits to the local community, but plenty of drawbacks.

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His top five beefs:

1) The Park: The vaunted “forest park” and trails will all be closed to the public behind a perimeter fence due to security concerns.

2) The Traffic: Wolverton claims that “the city of Cupertino expects widespread and severe traffic problems … Drivers can expect backups not only near the Interstate 280 offramps to Wolfe Road, which runs alongside the proposed site, but also on area surface streets and all along I-280 from Winchester Boulevard all the way up to Foothill Expressway.”

3) The Size: “6 million square feet of space, which is within spitting distance of the size of the Pentagon … Would you want the Empire State Building or the Pentagon in your backyard?”

4) The Lack Of Local Business Benefits: “Employees are likely to stick to campus most of the time. Because the main building is set back from the street and the project is in a largely residential area, there are few retail businesses within easy walking distance.”

5) The Parking: 11,000 spots for 14,200 employees means even more congestion for the local area.

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As the economic footprint of the region’s tech companies continues to grow, grumbles are more and more frequent. Facebook‘s recent announcement that it has plans to build one of the biggest rental developments in California for its own employees in Menlo Park, and Google and other tech companies’ tussles with San Francisco over shuttle bus traffic, are two more examples of the divide between rich, expansionist technology companies and their local communities.

The Cupertino City Council votes on Apple’s plan tomorrow, October 15, with a final vote scheduled for November.

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.

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