Tell Santa Clara: Don’t put Soccer Fields on Ulistac

Ulistac signTomorrow, May 20, the City of Santa Clara’s Parks Commission will consider whether to recommend development of artificial turf soccer fields at Ulistac Natural Area. Ulistac is an environmental treasure, the last significant piece of native habitat in the Santa Clara area and the proud result of thousands of hours of volunteer restoration effort. Please join us and tell the Parks Commissioners NOT to recommend soccer fields at Ulistac.

What’s Happening:
This story begins with the decision to construct the new 49ers stadium in the city of Santa Clara. Slated to open in August, Levi’s Stadium will be directly adjacent to the city’s Youth Soccer Park. The city expects traffic on game days to render the Youth Soccer Park unusable; thus, the city is searching for a location for new soccer fields. Ulistac Natural Area is one of the locations under consideration.

The Parks Commission should vote against this recommendation for several reasons:

  1. There is a strong legal argument that putting soccer fields at Ulistac would in fact be illegal. The City of Santa Clara accepted grant funds for Ulistac from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA) under a contractual agreement that Ulistac would be maintained as natural open space. Putting soccer fields – which the city intends to construct from artificial turf – in the middle of Ulistac would be in contravention of this agreement.
  2. This vote is premature. Parks Department staff has not even brought a proposal to the Parks Commission or the City Council describing what would be involved in relocating soccer fields to Ulistac, such as the expense, the timeline, the proposed design, or any other details that are necessary to be determined prior to such a vote.
  3. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared, analyzing the effects of any such project, prior to approval. No EIR has been prepared since no such project has been proposed.
  4. The Santa Clara City Council has already formed an ad hoc committee on soccer field planning, which met for the first time last week and is meeting again on May 19, the day before the Parks Commission vote. The Parks Commission should not attempt to bypass this process by voting to recommend soccer fields at Ulistac with no discussion and without the appropriate process.
  5. Finally, even without these other objections, soccer fields should not be constructed at Ulistac because that would result in destruction of irreplaceable natural habitat in order to make room for artificial turf and paved parking lots.

Why This Is Important:
Ulistac Natural Area is a 40-acre native habitat park, featuring seven distinct habitat types including wetlands, riparian woodland, grasslands, coastal scrub, savannah, and a bird and butterfly garden. The Guadalupe River runs adjacent to Ulistac, and hiking trails through Ulistac connect to the Guadalupe River Trail. Thus, Ulistac provides 40 acres of uninterrupted habitat for wildlife, adjacent to an important riparian corridor, all in the midst of urbanized Silicon Valley.

Ulistac is important not only for wildlife and native plants, but for the community. Hundreds of volunteers have spent thousands of hours painstakingly weeding, planting, creating trails, and otherwise restoring this native habitat. From school field trips and Boy Scout projects, to joggers looking for peaceful trails away from car traffic, to birders and native garden lovers, Ulistac offers benefits to the entire community in Santa Clara and the whole region. In addition to all this, Ulistac is also an important Ohlone cultural site.

For more information, read our letter to the Parks Commission

What You Can Do:

  1. Email the Parks Commission ([email protected]) and tell them why protecting Ulistac is important to you.
  2. Come to the Parks and Recreation Committee meeting:Ulistac looking towards Lick Mill Blvd

Tuesday, May 20 at 7:00pm
City Hall Cafeteria, 1500 Warburton Ave.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Meeting Agenda

Thank you for joining Committee for Green Foothills and our efforts to protect Ulistac.

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