(We submitted the comments below as part of a long-running CGF campaign to protect the natural habitat near the Santa Clara San Jose water plant near Alviso. You can watch the San Jose discussion here, and I spoke at the 2:40:00 mark. The City Council appears to have listened and will include an “Environmental Alternative” for further consideration in the environmental planning. As the process continues, we’ll continue to fight for our local natural habitats. -Brian)
April 15, 2011
Re: providing an “Environmental Alternative” for the upcoming review of the Water Pollution Control Plant
Santa Clara and Council Members;
San Jose City
Both San Jose City Council (in Item 7.4) and Santa Clara City Council (Item 7C-4) are considering the forthcoming environmental review for the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant Master Plan. For nearly a year, practically every environmental organization concerned with this area has sent a single clear message that has been rebuffed. Our urgent request is to include for consideration an “Environmental Alternative” that does upgrade the treatment facility but does not convert a significant portion of the footprint to an unnecessary expansion of the existing office space glut. We simply ask that the Cities simply consider keeping these 2,000 acres in their present, modern, and compatible use of wastewater treatment, environmental benefit and restoration, and low-impact public recreation.
Now is the time to begin planning the environmental review, and we request that both of your City Councils advise planning staff that a reasonable range of alternative must include this Environmental Alternative. This is emphatically not the No-Action Alternative, a false choice that handcuffs environmental restoration to an increasingly outmoded treatment system. The public, and no less yourselves as decision-makers, deserve the right to make a choice that does not include nearly-identical commercial/industria/retail development on still-available open space.
For your convenience, we are reprinting below the body of the first joint letter sent in June 2010:
We submit this position on the Water Pollution Control Plant Master Plan Alternatives on behalf
Audubon Society, Committee for Green Foothills, Loma Prieta Chapter of
Santa Clara Valley
the Sierra Club,
Greenbelt , Save The Bay, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge,
Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition,
Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Native Plant
Society, San Francisco Baykeeper, and the thousands of individuals we represent.
In May 2010, after a three-year effort, the planning team for the San Jose-Santa Clara Water
Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) revealed three land use alternatives for the Plant Master Plan.
While we appreciate the attempt to provide alternatives, the alternatives are so similar that they
fail to provide an adequate range of alternatives for good planning. The proposed alternatives
consist of the same elements at various proportions. We argue that the three presented
alternatives fail to analyze an adequate range of possibilities for the treatment plant land, and fall
short of the excellent planning we all hope for. All three alternatives inherently provide the same
option – significant development unrelated to the water treatment purpose of the plant, and
significant development unrelated to the current and historical ecology of the Bay, the land and
nature in the area.
Proper planning requires the development of a truly different alternative. We urge planners to
return to the drawing table and create an “Environment, Ecology and Water Alternative” that
would allow developed land uses solely for development addressing the water treatment purpose
of the plant. All other land uses should be based on the existing environment, view-sheds,
ecology, connectivity, the historic Bay ecology and environment, and recreational uses consistent
with the ecology and the nature of the land and its restoration.
Asking the public to select one of the three proposed alternatives channels the input by survey
participants to a predetermined set of very similar outcomes. The undersigned organizations
request that the planning team develop the fourth “Environment, Ecology and Water Alternative” and offer it to the public for review.
While there have been subsequent improvements in the planning, there is still no proposal set forth to consider this Environmental Alternative. Numerous subsequent letters by the organizations jointly, separately, and by individuals have re-emphasized this option, with no indication yet received that it will be forthcoming.
We understand the reasoning that leads planners to think of economic advantages to developing this open space, a reasoning that often, and often erroneously, drives every other plan to pave and build over. If that is the path that is ultimately taken by the decisionmakers and the public, then so be it, but good planning, responsiveness to environmental need, and the law itself demand consideration of the Environmental Alternative. We urge you to help this happen.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Brian A. Schmidt
Santa Clara County