Campbell officials celebrated the day San Jose-based 8×8 announced it would become the city’s largest employer by moving its headquarters to a busy part of the small South Bay city in the new year.
But rather than excitement, some residents or neighbors can only muster anxiety about the news of the move. The office it’s set to move into, called Creekside @ 17, is tucked behind a parking garage and a Courtyard by Marriott hotel adjacent to what residents and city officials describe as one of the more complex and congested intersections in the city — particularly during rush hour.
“That is the intersection that you want to avoid at all costs or try to go around,” said Jessica Fox, a San Jose resident who travels through the intersection daily to get to her internship at a local church. “The lights are great… but it’s just… chaotic because you have people coming off the freeway, and you have people coming from this way and that way.”
Indeed, the intersection is a convergence of an exit ramp for Highway 17, Creekside Way and Hamilton Avenue, all within about 500 feet of roadway. It has several sets of traffic signals spaced so no more than about six to eight cars can queue at a time for a couple of the stoplights.
That can make the flow of the traffic a challenge, acknowledged Matthew Jue, the city’s traffic engineer.
“All this traffic is competing for ‘green time,’ I’ll call it, at traffic signals, but they can’t all be accommodated at the same time,” he said. “It is challenging, especially with how closely spaced the signals are, you can’t necessarily accommodate a synchronized flow in all directions.”
The office building where 8×8 is set to move hasn’t had a tenant before, so traffic will undoubtedly increase when the company moves in early next year, Jue said, though notably millions of dollars have already been spent by the building owner to mitigate such impacts.
8×8 is a fast-growing company currently based in San Jose, but is set to expand throughout the Bay Area and to Minneapolis in the coming year. The company’s new Campbell headquarters spans nearly 178,000 square feet, enough room for nearly 900 employees at a conservative estimate of one worker per 200 square feet.
News of the cloud communications company’s move means more tax dollars for Campbell and a little more tech pizzazz for an often overlooked city when it comes to tech companies. Campbell, a city of about 43,000, sits next to San Jose — the largest city in the Bay Area — and close to other South Bay tech hubs.
“Campbell is excited to welcome 8×8 as the largest employer in our city upon their occupation of the space,” Mayor Rich Waterman said when the lease was announced. “We’re confident the Creekside facility will exceed expectations and be the perfect location for 8×8 for years to come.”
Each day an average of 75,000 cars pass through the intersection outside of 8×8’s soon-to-be headquarters. And though that may sound like a lot, it’s far from Campbell’s busiest streets, according to city data. In fact, it’s about 18.4 percent less busy than the city’s most-used intersection at Hamilton and Bascom Avenues, which sees an average of 88,800 cars per day. Primarily, it’s the complexity of the intersection that causes its congestion, Jue said.
Campbell officials and South Bay Development Co., the Los Gatos-based developer behind the building, considered how best to mitigate traffic, even before the five-story office building was constructed.
The city’s plans for the site have included office space for decades and when South Bay decided to build, the group opted to restart a rigorous planning process, a spokesperson for the company said. The group shrunk the office building that had previously been approved, removed an extra parking garage from the plan and added a traffic signal at the edge of the property that will help meter out cars exiting the property.
South Bay also passed up several opportunities to lease the property out to multiple tenants, opting instead to bring in a single company that would ideally create a comprehensive transportation plan, according to Scott Trobbe, a partner with South Bay.
“It was really important to us to get a single tenant because that single tenant has a much better chance of doing a mutli-transit program than if you have multiple tenants,” he said.
Creekside @ 17 sits steps from the Hamilton Avenue light rail transit station, though still more than three miles from a Caltrain station, generally considered the creme de la creme of public transit options in Silicon Valley. The light rail line connects to Caltrain in downtown San Jose.
And 8×8 is already thinking about how best to accommodate the crowded intersection. A representative for the company told San Jose Spotlight the company is talking with the city to come up with a plan for traffic impacts, though those discussions are still in “early stages.”
“As a company, we already promote flexible work hours, public transit and carpooling — all of which will continue at the new location,” spokesperson John Sun said in an email Thursday. “We also plan to open additional offices in San Francisco and the East Bay to accommodate employee growth in the Bay Area.”
Even so, some locals remain wary of the impending move.
“It’s going to make it worse,” said Nichole Allmon, a Los Gatos resident who drives through the intersection up to six times a day for work. “I think they (the city and 8×8) need to get together and figure something out, or they’re going to get a lot of complaints — I guarantee it.”
Contact Janice Bitters at [email protected] or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.