Ask County Supervisors to Support Better Enforcement of Ridgeline Easement at Lehigh Quarry

Landslide on right side is in the area of the easement. Photo by Jitze Couperus

On Tuesday, June 22, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will decide if staff should investigate sharing enforcement authority with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District over a ridgeline easement on Lehigh Quarry property. Lehigh has violated the County-owned easement agreement for many years, degrading the habitat and threatening Rancho San Antonio Park. Please ask the Supervisors to support the referral to staff as a first step to sharing enforcement authority and protecting the environment at Lehigh Quarry.

What’s Happening

For decades, Lehigh has been operating the largest active quarry in the foothills on the outskirts of Cupertino. In 1972, Lehigh granted the County an easement to protect the ridgeline on its property. The purpose of the easement was to avoid destruction of the ridgeline below a certain level.
However, since 1987 – and possibly before then – Lehigh’s quarrying has resulted in landslides that lowered the ridgeline below the promised level causing it to erode.

Now the County has an opportunity to investigate with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) legal methods that would allow the District to help enforce the easement. After research is completed, County and MROSD staff would return with potential proposals for consideration.

Why It’s Important

Hundreds of acres of the Lehigh property have been reduced to moonscape conditions. While reclamation plans are required for when the quarry or parts of it are closed, full recovery could take decades or far longer, and some physical alteration of the land will be permanent and never recover.

MROSD is a special-purpose government that preserves open space and the environment in the area around Lehigh Quarry. It specifically owns land immediately adjacent to the quarry, land that would be protected by the easement if adequately enforced. That land is part of Rancho San Antonio Park and Open Space Preserve.

The County and MROSD worked together to protect Rancho San Antonio, so giving MROSD the authority to help enforce the easement protecting its land would be an appropriate way to stop the ongoing harm and also protect the public.

What You Can Do

Please email the Supervisors and ask them to direct staff to investigate how MROSD can help enforce the County easement and protect the environment at Lehigh Quarry!

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