Reaching a max 5 inches long, California's red-legged frog holds its own over tree frogs, but if its breeding habitats are disrupted by the clearing of creek-bed vegetation or the formation of concrete banks-well, there's not much the little guy can do. That's why people like Dan Kalb, director of the Sierra Club's Loma Prieta Chapter, have vowed to protect the frog, as well as other environmental concerns they believe will be threatened by urban sprawl and increased air pollution should San Jose-based Cisco Systems proceed with its proposed Coyote Valley Research Park, which would cover 389 acres of San Jose's North Coyote Valley.
"Companies can thrive and expand without sprawling into underdeveloped areas, as many companies have shown here in Silicon Valley," says Kalb. The Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, the city of Salinas, the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, the Sierra Club and Santa Cruz County all filed separate suits against the city of San Jose almost as quickly as its council approved the $1.3 billion project last October.
Eric Morley of Cisco reminds us that the North Coyote Valley Campus Industrial Area has been in San Jose's General Plan for 17 years. "The campus locates jobs near housing, promotes [public] transit and is consistent with San Jose's smart-growth policies," he says. Cisco is teaming up with local environmental groups to raise $100 million to preserve open space throughout the region.
Will creatures like the red-legged frog be the real cost of bigger business, or can high-tech and nature co-exist? Unfortunately, the vote is split, and only time will tell.