A victory for San Jose on high speed rail

Today’s Mercury News had a good article with a bad headline in the print version: “High Speed Rail Setback for San Jose” (the online headline is better). The bullet train environmental planning process will now consider a route over Altamont Pass that may, we emphasize may, be more environmentally beneficial. Only doing the study will let us know – that’s what good planning is all about. And doing good planning that minimizes environmental impacts to Santa Clara County is a victory for the people of San Jose. You’ll be hearing more about this development. This particular case is a good...

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Rushing towards sprawl in Coyote Valley

One advantage of this blog is it gives us a chance to share documents that might not fit on other parts of the website. Here (in PDF format; requires Acrobat Reader) is a letter we delivered yesterday to the San Jose City Council. Of particular interest is our concern that the county-wide habitat plan may have been deliberately delayed by San Jose to keep it from affecting Coyote Valley. This suspicion has been floating around for a while now; it will be interesting to see if we finally get a reaction to it by making it public. -Brian

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More South County development rumors

The news buzzing around is that the Ohlone Native American tribe living in the south Santa Clara County area has cut a deal with the owners of the 5,000-acre Sargent Ranch. The landowner is supposedly paying for the process of lobbying for federal recognition, and in return the tribe supposedly will help Sargent Ranch develop free from County land use constraints because of some kind of relationship with the federally-recognized tribe. Very unclear, as can be seen from this summary. Watch for news about this over the next few days. CGF has long opposed short-sighted development of Sargent Ranch. This...

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Local land conservancy next step in open space protection

Our colleagues at Peninsula Open Space Trust have been raising private money to buy open space since 1977, and have been remarkably successful. Their work often depends on that of Committee for Green Foothills, which acts to defend lands from development so that they remain as open space and are thus worthy of purchasing, but it’s that critical step of purchase – and thus permanent protection – that makes our work on land use issues ultimately very satisfying. They’ve recently launched a complete redesign of their website, and it’s both professional and informative. I especially like the interactive map linked...

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News roundup- Santa Clara County

A news roundup, with our comments. In the Mercury News: Plan to clean up mercury contamination in the Bay reaches the Water Board today. These plans rarely get to that level without having the political path paved in advance, so it will likely go ahead. CGF follows this issue, but we are careful to remain an open-space/natural resource protection group. If we tried to become a toxics-control organization as well, the effect would be to lose our focus and efficiency. Morgan Hill Times: A proposal to expand the San Martin airport is in the works. Proponents say it will help...

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Mercury News perspective on Coyote Valley shifting?

The Merc has two new editorials on Coyote Valley, in advance of today’s Coyote Valley Task Force meeting: Triggering Coyote, and Main Issues Must Be Solved Before Approval. The Merc is right to insist on “triggers” that require job creation prior to Coyote Valley residential development. From CGF’s perspective, this requirement shows the fallacy of developing Coyote Valley, since it will be years before the City needs to expand to that area. The Merc is also right to insist on a greenbelt, although we are frankly cynical about whatever San Jose will ultimately propose. The City may try to ram...

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The nice developers in Morgan Hill

Probably the most interesting meeting to date about the proposed Urban Limit Line (ULL) in Morgan Hill happened on Tuesday. The ULL is supposed to indicate either the permanent limit to the city’s growth, or its limit in fifty years, depending on the person describing it. This contrasts with the city’s current Urban Growth Boundary, which limits growth for a 20-year period. Environmentalists are generally not happy about the ULL, as it seems to increase the pressure to develop. The city has been holding out the prospect of a greenbelt and open space conservation in order meet some environmental goals,...

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Joni Mitchell and capital depreciation schedules

Joni Mitchell, who wrote the song with the lyrics “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”, may not have realized her connection to obscure tax code provisions. Brian Leiter, a professor from the University of Texas, might see it. Leiter reports on a proposal to accelerate capital depreciation schedules to a single year, which he says will have the effect of creating a tax profit off of money-losing speculative ventures, such as pink hotels, swinging hot spots, and associated parking lots. Interestingly, he states the schedule was made much shorter in 1954, near the beginning of America’s post-war...

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Creative diversion of waste

Today’s SF Examiner has an article about an operation that’s trucking food waste from restaurants in San Francisco not to the landfill, but to a giant composting plant in Vacaville. This is a creative way to keep landfills from filling as quickly (and could alleviate, or delay, problems such as that posed by Santa Cruz County’s need for a new site) and, as it turns out, also provides real and measurable benefits to the agricultural and other operations using the finished compost. – Kathy

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Some good news for Stevens Creek

Next to Stevens Creek and Stevens Creek County Park lies an undeveloped 124-acre parcel that had been proposed for a 1,500-student private academy. Besides destroying the parcel’s environmental value, the proposal would have had significant traffic impacts and access issues. Canyon Heights Academy has now announced an alternative, permanent location for their school, on the site of a former elementary school in Campbell. The short-term threat to Stevens Creek appears to have passed. The next question though is what will happen to the 124-acre parcel. More development proposals may come down the pike, but conservationists might consider it as a...

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