Santa Clara County Planning Commission upholds good land use policy

For the past two decades, the County of Santa Clara has had policies in place restricting development in rural areas. With the specter of suburban sprawl always in sight, the County has determined to keep the rural areas rural, believing that scenic views, woodland and creek habitat for plants and wildlife, plenty of farmland to grow local crops, and low traffic, noise and air pollution are an important part of what makes this area beautiful and ensures the quality of life for our residents.

Today, the Santa Clara County Planning Commission continued to uphold this valuable land use policy. The Planning Commission was asked to recommend an amendment to the County General Plan that would have permitted up to 12 houses to be built on a parcel on the corner of Uvas Road and Watsonville Road in the rural area west of San Martin, rather than the 3 houses that are currently allowed there. Since the County General Plan clearly requires that this level of density of housing be allowed only as “infill” in areas where the housing is already at that level, the Planning Commission refused.

This decision was important not so much for the fate of this individual site, but for the principle it embodied. As the economy begins to recover, development pressures, which have been reduced for several years, will begin to increase. If the Planning Commission had agreed to recommend the General Plan amendment today, that would have had an effect on land speculation and land values. The rolling hills of Santa Clara County, which provide beautiful views, hiking and camping opportunities, and habitat for wildlife, would have been in increased jeopardy of sprawling development.

Now, the final decision about this proposed amendment rests with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. We strongly urge the Supervisors to follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission and adhere to wise land use policy that keeps rural areas rural and encourages new housing only in infill areas.

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