March 25, 2021
At a County Planning Commission hearing this spring, Green Foothills will be speaking up in favor of an appeal by the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority of an out-of-place house in Coyote Valley. We applaud and support this appeal as this house – directly adjacent to the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve – was approved under a flawed process.
Coyote Valley’s Rural Character Present, But At Risk
Years of work by Green Foothills and many other governmental and non-governmental stakeholders have preserved most of Coyote Valley, but many areas remain at risk. As North Coyote Valley, under San Jose’s jurisdiction, gets purchased and protected, attention shifts to Mid and South Coyote Valley under Santa Clara County’s jurisdiction.
More Risks and More Protection Now Possible in Mid and South Coyote Valley
Mid Coyote Valley, slated for decades to be transferred to San Jose for urban development, was mostly left undeveloped until recently. With the City now poised to reverse the plan for that urban development, a new risk is taking its place. Giant homes replacing farmland parcels has become the new threat to preserving the area’s agricultural and natural habitat values.
Appealing an Inappropriate Development Surrounded by Open Space
The current tools at our disposal to keep the area protected are the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the recently-passed Coyote Valley Preservation Act, AB 948. Unfortunately, neither AB 948 nor CEQA were followed when Santa Clara County recently approved a very large residence immediately adjacent to Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve’s entrance. The proposal, called “Ocean Queen” because of the name of the business applying for the permit, is out of place and out of character for Coyote Valley.
The good news, however, is that Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA) has appealed the initial approval by County staff. They point out that they were not notified as required under AB 948 about the proposed project, and exemptions to CEQA do not apply to this project in its environmentally sensitive area. The undeveloped, nearly-10 acre parcel has mostly publicly-owned land nearby (see article on latest purchases by POST) and might be acquired at some point. The proposed large house clearly stands in contrast to the surroundings and vision for Coyote Valley as a unique open space that should be preserved for wildlife, farming and climate resilience.
OSA’s appeal will go to the County Planning Commission later this spring. Green Foothills will look to support the appeal at the Commission when that happens, and to ensure the environmental protections for Coyote Valley under AB 948 and under CEQA are applied moving forward. Please watch for an opportunity for you to take action on this issue.