Tonight, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Executive Board will be voting on recommendations for where new housing should be located in our region. The proposal includes an increase in housing in our rural areas by more than 1,300% —more than any increase asked of the cities. Tell ABAG that housing belongs in infill areas, not on our open space, and definitely not in Coyote Valley!
ABAG is a regional planning agency responsible for, among other things, the Bay Area’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). RHNA assigns a share of our needed future housing to each city and county based on a methodology approved by ABAG.
This process is supposed to follow good land use and planning principles, including focusing new growth in infill areas close to transit, while avoiding sprawl into open space and rural areas. But the recommended methodology that the ABAG Executive Board will be voting on tonight, called “Option 8A,” does the opposite. It puts 4,137 new housing units in the unincorporated area of Santa Clara County — in other words, on our open space, farmland and rural communities. To put this in context, the previous RHNA allocation for unincorporated Santa Clara County was only 277 units. That’s a 1,300% increase from the previous RHNA allocations! By contrast, the increase for the Bay Area as a whole is only 134%.
Threat to Coyote Valley
Coyote Valley is one of the areas most at risk for sprawl development if Option 8A is approved. Most of the RHNA allocation for unincorporated Santa Clara County is expected to go to the undeveloped areas on the edges of San Jose which includes Coyote Valley and Almaden Valley, as well as in the Morgan Hill area. All of these areas contain important natural resources, from wildlife habitat to prime farmland. Green Foothills has worked for decades to protect these open spaces that are now once again under threat from this misguided RHNA proposal.
We need to build more housing, but we need it in our cities, not on our open space. Sprawl development is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, because living out on the edge of cities forces people to drive everywhere they go. Moreover, after this year’s wildfires, it should be clear that building more homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) is a bad idea.