Don’t Turn Coyote Valley’s Wildlife Corridor Into a Mausoleum

Coyote Valley landscape

The proposed site is in the foothills to the right of this photo, which shows the western side of Coyote Valley looking south towards Morgan Hill. Photo by Ron Horii.

On Thursday, November 30, the city of San Jose will hold a virtual community meeting to hear from the public about the Heritage Oaks Memorial Park, a massive project that threatens to block wildlife movement through Coyote Valley. Please use the form below to ask the city to require a supplemental environmental review to accurately analyze the project’s impacts.

What’s Happening

In 2014, the city of San Jose approved an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Heritage Oaks Memorial Park on the ridgeline overlooking Coyote Valley from the west. This project would sprawl out over 102 acres – an area larger than 77 football fields – consisting of a cemetery, multiple mausoleums and other buildings, and an extensive network of roads and parking lots. As part of this massive project, the developer will carve up the hillsides, excavating the ridges and knolls by as much as 75 feet and using the extracted soil to level out the natural contours of the hills. The developer also plans to install and irrigate 75 acres of non-native turf grass and remove more than 100 native oak trees.

When this project was first proposed nine years ago, environmental groups strenuously objected to this sprawling and wasteful plan, but the city approved the EIR over our opposition. The project was then paused for years, but now the city’s Planning staff is reviewing the permit for the first two phases of the project. The intervening nine years have provided new information about the severity of the project’s significant and unavoidable environmental impacts, so we are asking the city to require a supplemental EIR to analyze this new information.

Why It Matters

Even in 2014, before we knew what we know now about the critical importance of Coyote Valley for wildlife habitat and connectivity, flood and groundwater protection, agriculture, and climate resilience, there was no doubt that the Heritage Oaks Memorial Park was an environmentally damaging project. In light of the new studies and reports since then, the scale of the project’s environmental impacts is clearly far greater than was analyzed in the 2014 EIR. Just as one example, a bobcat tracking study from 2019 found that the project site is right in the middle of bobcat movement pathways.

In addition, the Heritage Oaks project was approved before San Jose took the historic action of protecting North Coyote Valley from industrial development. Significant amounts of land have been permanently protected since then, with the result that the Heritage Oaks site is now surrounded by thousands of acres of protected open space used by wildlife.

The city of San Jose is currently evaluating the project to determine what level of updated CEQA analysis (if any) to require. City officials need to hear that the community supports a supplemental EIR rather than a less thorough analysis.

What You Can Do

Please use the form below to ask the city to require a supplemental EIR that will accurately analyze the environmental impacts of the Heritage Oaks Memorial Park. You can email the city and also attend the virtual community meeting on Thursday, November 30 from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Zoom meeting link: https://sanjoseca.zoom.us/j/97931724612
Zoom meeting phone number: +1 408 638 0968 or 888 475 4499 (Toll Free)
Meeting ID: 979 3172 4612

More information about this community meeting can be found on the City of San Jose website at https://www.sanjoseca.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/6529/4953

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