Netflix just can't catch a break. First it raised its prices, spurring an exodus of 1 million subscribers and shriveling its stock price. CEO Reed Hastings apologized on Sunday, but in the same blog post, he announced plans to spin off Netflix's DVD-by-mail service into a new company called "Qwikster," which has also been widely criticized.
And now, while still trying to quell its angry customers, Netflix has suddenly angered its neighbors, too. According to the San Jose Mercury News, residents of Los Gatos, Calif., have sued the town to stop or slow the construction of Netflix's new headquarters there, arguing the buildings would be too tall, too many trees would be cut down and traffic would become too congested.
The group behind the lawsuit, Los Gatos Citizens for Responsible Development (LGCRD), describes itself in the filing as "community residents and concerned citizens who personally enjoy and appreciate the environmental resources of Los Gatos." They don't necessarily aim to nix the new Netflix HQ, attorney Rachel Mansfield-Howlett tells the News — they just want the town to conduct an official environmental review. "In this case, there's abundant evidence that there may be impacts and we're confident the court will require an environmental impact report," Howlett says. "It's important for people to understand the citizens' group does not wish to stop the project. We're just seeking environmental review."
Part of the problem, according to LGCRD, is that the town council recently approved four- and five-story buildings at the 21.5-acre development, even though Los Gatos has a height limit of three stories. On top of that, Howlett cites "traffic, the removal of more than 300 protected trees and construction impacts that would continue over a long period of time" as justification for the suit.
Without discussing pending litigation, per official policy, town manager Greg Larson tells the News that attorneys are studying the suit: "We will then analyze the lawsuit's merits and impacts, if any, before making a recommendation to the town council."
Meanwhile, Netflix's more immediate woes keep piling up: Not only has the Qwikster announcement drawn widespread scorn — including 23,000 mostly angry and/or sarcastic comments on Hastings' blog post — but according to the Hollywood Reporter, the company may have unveiled its split personality a bit too ... qwickly. The Twitter handle @Qwikster is already owned by someone else, identified as Jason Castillo, who has begun vaguely referring to making "deals" with Netflix. Maybe he can strike a better one than Netflix's subscribers and neighbors have gotten so far.
(Netflix did not immediately respond to MNN's request for a comment on this story.)
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