Friday, December 31, 2004

Proposed casino moved away from Santa Clara County

In somewhat-good news for controlling sprawl in Santa Clara County, a proposal to place a Native American casino right across the border in San Benito County has been moved further south, to just north of Hollister. The original location was in an environmentally-sensitive floodplain and wildlife migration corridor shared between the two counties, and was close enough to promote sprawl in Gilroy. The new location eliminates some of those impacts, but would still increase traffic on Highway 101 that would ratchet up pressure to widen the highway, and may still have growth impacts on Santa Clara County. As The Pinnacle newspaper article above notes, many issues still surround this controversial project.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Coastside: Bedford Falls or Pottersville?

Last week's Half Moon Bay Review includes a thought-provoking editorial by Montara resident Barry Parr, who compares alternate realities for the San Mateo County Coast.

This is just the kind of long-range thinking that inspires those of us at Committee for Green Foothills. As the editorial says, together we CAN create the positive vision provided by Bedford Falls, and keep Pottersville from coming to our communities.

- Kathy

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Breaking the law....

Breaking the law - don't do it!

That's what we're saying to Santa Clara County and other jurisdictions that are giving developers access to environmental documents while locking out the rest of us. Here's our latest letter.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Secret developer access exposed

The Pinnacle newspaper in south Santa Clara County did an in-depth article about the issue CGF exposed - developers are given access to draft environmental documents to review those documents and argue for changes while environmentalists are excluded.

Two points we can add here - County staff said giving equal access to environmentalists would be a bureaucratic nightmare. It would not - all the County would have to do is to respond to requests for the same documents the County was already giving to developers.

Second, Supervisor Gage compared the process to the County reviewing financial audit reports before they became public, and said there's nothing wrong the developers doing the same thing with environmental documents. The difference is between who's in charge of the process - the County commissions audit reports which belong to the County, but environmental documents do not belong to developers. They belong to the people of the County, and if one member of the public - a developer - can get to see them, then so should anyone else who requests the opportunity.


Monday, December 20, 2004

San Jose to worsen the jobs-housing balance

San Jose has long (and justifiably) complained that north Santa Clara County cities would build tax-revenue-increasing business developments while failing to provide tax-revenue-decreasing housing. San Jose and areas south and east are then forced to provide housing for the North County jobs, resulting in sprawl and long commutes.

Taking this lesson to heart, San Jose now wants to become like its north County sister cities. With the planned development of Coyote Valley and North First Street, San Jose will also have insufficient housing. Given that the region as a whole is so deficient in housing, San Jose's action will significantly harm the overall region.

Here's our latest letter to the City on the subject (included free in the letter is an argument requiring farmland protection).


MROSD wants your input

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has just posted a Visitor Satisfaction Survey on their newly designed website. Let them know what you think!

Their new site is beautiful, and much easier to use than the old design. I particularly like the new preserve finder - check it out.

- Kathy

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Stanford's improved finances to affect construction?

There's been relatively little construction on Stanford campus pursuant to the 2000 General Use Permit, but much of that lull could be attributed to finances. Things may be changing:

"The university’s investment returns last year were $1.7 billion. The university’s endowment is now $9.9 billion, up from $8.6 billion a year ago."

We'll need to keep a watch on the pace of construction, to see if it's affected by this. Spending the extra cash on environmental research and conservation would be extremely welcome.


Monday, December 6, 2004

Fighting the monster mansion

We've been opposing a "monster mansion" on the outskirts of San Jose. It was first described as a 17,000 square-foot residence on a hilltop. It turns out to be actually 25,000 square feet. The environmental documentation needs to be redone, and Santa Clara County needs to put an upper limit on resource-consuming, speculation-inducing monster mansions.

The property is located above the white rectangle in the aerial photo above (thanks, Keyhole!). Most of the homes directly below and to the right of the white rectangle were not considered in the visibility analysis of the project, and we suspect that they will find the monster mansion dominating their views of the hills.

Here are our two letters about the project, beginning with the most current, December 3, 2004.

For more details, see our September 7th letter.

We'll keep working to fix these problems!


Thursday, December 2, 2004

News roundup

San Jose is considering a new "Downtown North". It will have 100,000 jobs, supposedly, and 24,700 new residences. Shades of Coyote Valley where, once again, San Jose is not providing housing to balance all the people it is trying to attract to the region. On the other hand, this development will destroy much less open space than Coyote Valley. We'll have to think about what degree this is a CGF concern. Here is one concern however: Mayor Ron Gonzales said "he couldn't recall why he decided to cut the developers the break" of having the City (read: taxpayers) instead of the developers pay for the costs of the $1 million environmental review. It's very clear to us that developers, not the public should pay for the cost of reviewing their projects.

Los Altos Hills may require energy conservation in monster homes. Large homes would have to meet a tighter energy standard than smaller places under the proposal. This points out a significant problems with monster homes - besides eating up land and driving speculation, they consume more resources than reasonably-sized residences, for as long as the buildings are standing.

And on the subject of consuming energy, New Scientist reports that climate change culprits could face court, as damage from global warming becomes traceable to the industries that cause the warming. Global warming is another good issue for open space preservation, which promotes smart growth and energy-efficiency.