eastern foothills from developer speculation
Posted November 4, 2002/ Updated
September 12, 2010
The exposed ridgelines and scenic hillsides of
the Diablo Mountain Range create a dramatic natural backdrop to the urban
centers of Silicon Valley.
Santa Clara County's eastern foothills, from Milpitas to southern San
Jose, present attractive targets for developers. Weak county hillside
protections invite development, and a precedent-setting ridgeline development
recently passed a significant approval hurdle.
Development companies already own significant portions of the more visible
hillsides that provide spectacular, easily accessible views. These hills
lack protective tree cover so development scars the view throughout the
Speculators are watching Citation Homes' precedent setting 17-home subdivision
proposal that would significantly weaken already inadequate hillside zoning
- current County hillside zoning does not prohibit ridgeline development.
The proposal resembles a three-tentacled octopus stretching across prominent
ridgelines. Instead of locating houses in a cluster to preserve open space,
the proposal scatters houses across exposed ridgelines, fragmenting the
landscape and reducing its value as dedicated open space.
Even though Citation Homes' proposal is inconsistent with the historical
interpretation of County hillside-zoning - current standards call for
a tight cluster of homes and a large contiguous open space area - the
County Planning Commission approved this preliminary conceptual design.
The Planning Commission's approval was surprising, since the Board of
Supervisors in its 2002 Work Plan expressed to staff the need to develop
stronger policies to protect the County's foothills and ridgelines from
Land speculators watching Citation Homes' proposal await the outcome.
If the County approves the proposal, similar environmentally-destructive
development will follow. Hillside land prices are soaring out of reach
of government agencies like the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority,
which would like to purchase this land. And the opportunity to permanently
protect the valley's scenic backdrop and allow public, recreational-trail
access to these lands will be lost forever.
The County needs to reject the design of Citation Homes' proposal. Additionally,
the County needs to move quickly to protect the natural beauty of the
eastern foothills by establishing new hillside zoning protections. If
the County does not move to curb this threat, environmental organizations
may need to go to the voters to adopt new protective hillsides policies.
The Committee for Green Foothills, Greenbelt Alliance, and Santa Clara
Valley Audubon Society are urging the County to move forward with stronger
protections and avoid establishing a dangerous precedent that threatens
What you can do
1. Write to the County Board of Supervisors:
(1) Ask them to establish new hillside zoning NOW to protect the beautiful hillsides
that are an integral part of our quality of life in the valley.
(2) Let them know that you will ask them to reject Citation Homes' proposal -- and any others that contradict the intent of Hillside Zoning -- that come before them.
Please send your letters now. The Supervisors
will be considering this issue again at their February 2003 meeting.
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
Supervisors Liz Kniss,
Jim Beall, and
70 West Hedding, San Jose, CA 95110
Phone (408)299-2323 Fax(408)298-8460
2. Become informed.
Read the letter
submitted November 18 by Committee for Green Foothills, Santa Clara Valley
Audubon Society, and Greenbelt Alliance asking for strong hillside protections.
Read the Milpitas Post articles on this issue:
November 27, 2002
Sign up for CGF action alerts and we'll
keep you updated and let you know how you can get involved.
3. Support Committee for Green Foothills.
Become a CGF member
or make a donation.
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