CGF letter and request – San Jose should wait on the Coyote Valley EIR revision

(Following up on the good news about the Coyote Valley EIR revision, CGF submitted the following request to the San Jose City Council. -Brian)

Given that City Planning staff has said the Draft EIR must be revised due to the significant criticism it received, I want to suggest that the decision on whether to start the revision wait until after the General Plan itself is revised. Three good reasons for this:

  1. The City might choose to change the CoyoteValley proposal based on changing economic conditions or based on the new General Plan. The “current” direction from the City Council is from a 2002 memo with guiding principles based on the 1995 General Plan, and those principles are getting dated.

  2. Environmental review will be much more accurate if done immediately prior to the City’s decision about the project rather than done years earlier. DEIR preparation started in 2005. Delaying revisions until 2009 following the General Plan approval will make them much more accurate, particularly for traffic and for making use of the information developed for the Countywide Habitat Conservation Plan, which should be complete by then. It might also give the landowner-proponents of CoyoteValley time to reconsider their current decision to refuse the City access to their properties for purposes of preparing the DEIR.

  3. Serious consideration of alternatives is impossible with the current project, schedule, and cursory analysis typically found in the EIR process. In particular, I think the Mayor may be interested in a “North Coyote Only” alternative that limits the development footprint, protects critical wildlife areas and the majority of existing farmland, and still allows a net influx of jobs to the City. While as far as I know, none of the major environmental groups support this alternative (including my own), it may still be a significant improvement over the current proposal. It won’t happen though unless we halt the current process.

I have spoken to representatives of Greenbelt Alliance and of the Sierra Club and Audubon Society chapters, and they support a delay in the revision. I would be very interested in following up on this with you.

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