More radio for CGF
Observations and thoughts from Committee for Green Foothills.
When asked, Mayor Reed responded as follows (after some preliminary comments):
Yesterday’s KQED Perspectives commentary at www.kqed.org/perspectives criticized “The San Jose Process” for environmental review because unlike other cities, private developers create and control the initial, administrative draft versions of environmental impact reports. The Perspective said that process is a legacy of the previous city administration, but will you commit to at least investigating whether this system should be changed to meet the standards found in other Bay Area cities, where the cities and not the developers select the consultants who prepare the reports?
(Full disclosure: I was the person who gave yesterday’s Perspective.)
Legislative Advocate, Committee for Green Foothills
The environmental reports we do are the City’s environmental reports, and we rely on our professional staff to make sure that the work done by the consultants is correct and eventually if people disagree with that we have to defend it in court .... we have to prepare for that so we have to do it right, and I don’t think it matters where it starts as much as where it ends up. I can’t make a personal commitment to Brian that we’ll change that. I understand his comment, I understand the perception, but we have a really good environmental staff that makes these things work, and I’m confident we’re doing it correctly and defensibly.My reaction:
October 1, 2007
The Committee for Green Foothills submits the following comments for scoping the EIR for the
· The purpose of the approval for this project must be defined by the City, not by the applicant. If the purpose that the permissions the applicants seeks (such as improving medical care) can be done in a way that the applicant does not seek, that option remains within the purpose of the City. Legally, the applicant cannot define the purpose in a way that artificially narrows the scope of the project and its alternatives. Because the City is deciding whether to approve the agreement, it has to define the purpose.
· The EIR must consider a “no expansion/seismic only upgrade” alternative for the
· A “no increase in medical office space” alternative should be included. Conditions should be placed defining what type of activity or organization may use “medical office space.”
· Any relaxing of existing zoning standards will violate thresholds for environmental significance that the standards are meant to protect, unless compensatory environmental mitigation is required. This is especially true given the large size of the project. For example, easing density restrictions should be compensated with open space protection.)
· Increased building height and density should be compensated with open space protection. Decreasing views of hillsides and of natural areas are visual impacts that can be appropriately compensated for by open space protection.
· Increase utilization of recreational resources must be analyzed in the EIR for direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts. The City should compare the analysis used for the Stanford GUP in Santa Clara Clount’s EIR for comparison. Increased utilization is a significant impact unless mitigated.
· The EIR process should analyze the phasing and mitigation monitoring used in the Stanford GUP EIR to avoid similar problems. For the Stanford GUP, six years after the impacts have occurred, the promised trails have not yet been constructed. Mitigations should not just be begun before the impacts have occurred, they should be completed, or at least a schedule established with clear stop dates.
· The hospital opening should be in phases, with none the medical office space opening until all environmental mitigations have been complied with. This will make mitigation monitoring and enforcement more credible if it stops use of medical office space until environmental conditions are complied with as opposed to stopping use of the hospital.
· Any net increases in greenhouse gas emissions are cumulatively significant.
· “Green building” standards should be required.
· The impact on housing will be significant unless mitigated and must be analyzed. The impact will also affect open space and traffic, because if new housing is not constructed by Stanford, it will be constructed mostly in
· All newly-created housing demand should be fully mitigated with housing creation that matches the income level of housing demand generated.
· Any analysis that concludes a “no net increase” mitigation standard for transportation is not feasible, must also determine why it is feasible for the much larger Stanford GUP expansion but not for this project.
· Significant and unavoidable impacts must be compensated for in a comparable manner. For example, the visual impact of
· Eliminate Stanford’s “plateau bargaining” through the use of binding promises in the process. For example, Stanford has made promises on where it would agree to place the S1 Trail on its property, and then after much work had been done by the County so it could accept the offer, Stanford reneged on the promises unless dramatic new concessions were added. This problem can be stopped by spelling out in advance when and which parts of a promise are binding.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Brian A. Schmidt