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SAN JOSE, CA-Cisco Systems won the first round -city council members in San Jose, California this week approved its hotly contested 688-acre campus in mostly agricultural North Coyote Valley. Now the software giant must face off against a spate of opponents preparing a courtroom battle against the would-be 20,000-employee complex.

The city of Salinas, the Sierra Club and Greenbelt Alliance, among others, have pledged to file suit under the California Environmental Quality Act. That act would force Cisco to bring their case to court within 30 days of its approval.

The firm wanted to begin its first six-building, 3,300-employee phase by January, but those lawsuits could slow the project substantially. Cisco officials have nonetheless expressed confidence that the complex will indeed be built.

The campus is eventually planned to house 20,000 workers on 688 acres in Coyote Valley, heretofore a mostly agricultural area. Opponents say it will not only worsen traffic and pollute the environment, but also clear the way for future damaging development.

Such environmental suits have had a measure of past success. This year, Ventura County in Southern California managed to stymie development of the largest residential housing development in neighboring Los Angeles County under an environmental lawsuit.

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