Last week we could celebrate the purchase of 966-acre Rancho San Vicente, an important link in a chain of protected land extending immediately south of San Jose. Environmental opposition to sprawl in Coyote Valley was crucial for stopping the sprawl proposal that the developers originally tried at San Vicente:
Tom deRegt, a partner in New Cities Development Group, said his firm
decided to sell the Rancho San Vicente land for the same price it
paid in 1998. Back then, he said, the driving force was Cisco Systems’ plans for
a new campus at Coyote Valley on Highway 101.
“We felt the jobs created by Cisco would push the need for more housing, and that there would be a demand for executive housing,” deRegt said. “Obviously things changed since then.”
CGF and other organizations fought the Cisco project long enough for economic conditions to derail it, and then did so again with an even bigger proposal for Coyote Valley that stopped at an earlier stage. If either project had succeeded, the the speculative sprawl potential would have made San Vicente impossible to purchase.
And yesterday, San Jose’s General Plan Task Force supported staff recommendations to not plan for development in Almaden Valley and Mid-Coyote Valley, and to keep Evergreen’s industrial areas zoned industrial, all of which are supported by CGF:
A special panel charged with charting San
Jose‘s long-term growth has put the city one step closer to keeping its
undeveloped southern fringes — most prominently Coyote
Valley — off-limits to new housing tracts.
Citing the cost of providing services to those far-flung areas, as well
as the environmental damage that development might bring, the Envision San Jose
2040 Task Force voted overwhelmingly late Tuesday to keep the city’s so-called
“urban reserves” in Coyote Valley and Almaden Valley out of any future growth
In addition, the panel unanimously urged that open space in Evergreen —
currently targeted for industrial uses — remain formally out of the mix for new
Tuesday’s meeting brought out scores of green and open space advocates
who sought to reinforce those concerns and urge planners to focus on development
already inside the urban core.
“Let’s fix what we have first,” said Helen Chapman, a director of the
Committee for Green Foothills.
Of course they could have done more – in particular, they shouldn’t continue to assume that development will come to North Coyote Valley, as the economic conditions haven’t changed and the permits are about to expire. On the other hand, four years ago I really couldn’t have imagined this – CGF was in the middle of a lawsuit to stop a stupid and dangerous soccer field complex in Alamden Valley farmland, and the plan to develop both North and Mid Coyote was on an express track. These changes are amazing.
UPDATE: a short video showing San Vicente is here.