Silicon Valley developer ends week-long hunger strike

Navneet Aron was protesting extensive red tape in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Protesting fists and forks with Mayor Larry Klein and Aron Developers' Navneet Aron
Mayor Larry Klein and Aron Developers' Navneet Aron (, LinkedIn, Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

Navneet Aron finally ate something — Indian food, to be exact.

The Silicon Valley developer who went on a week-long hunger strike in an effort to get city officials to let him resume construction on a development of townhouses in Sunnyvale is eating again, the Mercury News reported

Navneet Aron, the founder and CEO of Aron Developers, spent eight days camping out at City Hall, refusing food “until death” unless the city let him continue building his project on North Fair Oaks Avenue, the outlet said. Aron said he was dealing with an “unnecessary bureaucratic delay” that would cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

The city of Sunnyvale halted construction after discovering Aron’s company neglected to obtain approval from Santa Clara County’s Department of Environmental Health. Aron’s crew installed plastic sheet vapor barriers, but failed to get the DEH to sign off on it before they did so, resulting in the city shutting down construction on the 18-unit multifamily project, Aron’s company’s first. Aron filed the paperwork with the municipality, but was told the wait could be up to 45 days to clear up, time that Aron said he did not have.

“This is simply, I believe, a bureaucratic exercise between the two agencies,” Aron previously told the outlet. “And we are simply suffering and forcing our people who have families and kids and live paycheck to paycheck to not be able to work on-site. They don’t have any other income. So that’s why I’m here.”

It was unknown if, or how much, the hunger strike influenced government officials, but they are moving forward with the paperwork that will allow the project to continue. Still, officials haven’t promised that Aron will be able to resume construction, but he remained buoyant.  

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“I told my guys with confidence that there’s absolutely zero layoffs,” he told the outlet. “We will be working full speed ahead with 100 percent confidence.”

Aron’s struggle highlighted the difficulties smaller developers often face when dealing with the city’s permitting process, which is making the housing shortage even worse, the Mercury reported. Last year, construction on townhomes for unhoused families in East Oakland was held up for a year due to permitting issues and city fees, the outlet said.

Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein told the outlet in an email that the city is happy to listen to concerns from residents and developers, but he thinks Aron unnecessarily put his own life at risk.

“There is always room for improvement,” he said. “Developers also need to understand they need to follow through on their commitments when a project is approved. If there are ways we can make that clearer to them, we are always willing to receive feedback from anyone.”


 — Victoria Pruitt

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