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Sunnyvale Developer on Hunger Strike to Protest City Building, Permitting Rules

A home developer in Sunnyvale is refusing to eat as a protest of city building and permitting rules.

Navneet Aron, founder and CEO of Aron Developers has spent the past eight days inside the city hall lobby on what he calls “a hunger strike until death — if necessary”. 

He’s demanding the city give him the green light to continue his construction project.

“It is an ongoing challenge how inefficient the processes are in every city and every county,” he said. 

He’s been a developer for 10 years and most recently, he and his team have been building 18 townhomes on North Fair Oaks Avenue. 

But the city stopped construction, saying his company forgot to get county approval for portions of the project. 

One issue is the vapor sheet. A piece of plastic placed underneath the foundation to mitigate any health risks from potential toxins in the soil. 

Aron says it was installed, but the city says he didn’t follow the protocol to get proper county approval.

The process can take weeks, and until that’s fixed, the entire project is essentially at a standstill.

“We have framing. Let us do framing on site and of course we will satisfy all the requirements of DEH, 100%,” he said, adding that the shutdown is costing him and his workers.

In a statement, Sunnyvale’s mayor says he’s concerned about Aron’s health and wishes he didn’t take this path. But also says, “…by not getting county department of environmental health approval, future residents of these townhomes will most likely incur additional costs and require ongoing monitoring to protect their health and safety.” 

However the county added Friday that it believes Aron is taking all necessary actions to keep them safe.

Aron now spends his days in the city hall lobby, eating nothing, and drinking only water and coffee.

He leaves when the building closes, but returns each morning to continue his protest. 

Aron says he believes in the building codes, and follows them, but says the system needs to change – if the city and region is serious about building more housing. 

“As a result of this, hopefully streamline the permit process and just how rules get enforced in different agencies: counties, cities, non-governmental, semi-governmental,” said Aron. 

The city says it plans to discuss Aron’s project with the county on Tuesday and will work to determine whether construction can proceed or not. 

Till then, Aron says his hunger strike will continue.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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