Thursday, January 27, 2005

Could be worse - news on Coyote Valley

We would like San Jose to take a break on developing Coyote Valley, considering that more appropriate prospects for urban redevelopment exist that could be hurt by siphoning business to the south. We knew, however, that this was unlikely, so the next best news is that San Jose did NOT clear the deck for an Environmental Impact Report necessary for developing Coyote Valley. Following Morgan Hill Mayor Kennedy's suggestion (and maybe my own encouragement), the City directed staff to produce a list of alternatives for developing Coyote Valley prior to beginning the actual EIR.

Unfortunately, the Mercury News missed this change when it reported on the Tuesday's events. It's important because the public may have a chance for real input on what alternatives should be considered - staff is usually very hesitant to add alternatives after they have gone through the trouble of creating an EIR.

The Merc also had an editorial saying the EIR should go forward. We obviously disagree, and the step the City did take was better than simply plunging ahead.

By the way, I'll be doing a radio call-in interview on 91.5 FM community radio shortly after 10 p.m. tonight, which could be heard mostly in areas south of Palo Alto down to San Benito County. Audubon Society's Craig Breon will be hosting, and we'll discuss Coyote Valley.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Coyote Valley/HCP news

The Gilroy Dispatch has a very informative article on how a delay in the County's Habitat Conservation Plan is playing into attempts to develop Coyote Valley. The Dispatch quotes CGF several times in the article.

And the Pinnacle newspaper has the latest news on the Coyote Valley Task Force approving an outline of the overall plan for the valley. Things are heating up over this sorely mistaken project - we will do everything we can to stop it or at least to minimize the damage it will cause.


Friday, January 14, 2005

CGF takes legal action to stop sprawl

Yesterday, CGF and Save Almaden Valley Rural Alliance filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court to stop San Jose's illegal effort to bring sprawl to Almaden Valley. Read about our lawsuit here, and for more information about threat to Almaden, see our Action Alert here.

San Jose has an unfortunate reputation of only listening to environmental groups after the groups have sued the City. Hopefully the City will listen now, or the courts are going to make them listen.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

News bits

The Metro has a nicely-titled "Secrets 'R' Us" piece, half-way down its collection of news items titled "The Fly". Metro picks up where The Pinnacle newspaper left off on the story of how CGF is fighting the County's attempts to disclose environmental documents to developers while locking them away from everyone else.

The Merc has a good article on fighting invasive plant species in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. This is an issue that may eventually involve CGF - invasive species are generally considered the second biggest threat to biological diversity in developed countries, with habitat loss being the number one problem. The article describes how nurseries stock invasive plants for landscaping that promptly escape and damage the environment. Voluntary action by nurseries to stop selling these plants would be welcome, but government regulation may also be needed.

Finally, the Gilroy Dispatch describes increasing interest in having the City of Gilroy join the Santa Clara Open Space Authority. Gilroy is the only part of Santa Clara County that is not included in an open space district government. Something else that needs support.


Friday, January 7, 2005

"My higher power was a cow"

The quote above is from a 21-year-old recovering alcoholic who found sobriety at a farm treatment center in Sonoma County, described in the San Francisco Chronicle. The organic farm/drug addiction treatment center has apparently had successes where more traditional programs have failed.

This example shows the value of preserving rural lands near to urban areas, by helping people find and retain an inner sense of peace. It also shows how farming can be done differently in the Bay Area - not that thousands of farmland acres can now become treatment centers, but rather as one example of how Bay Area farms can diversify and find special niches where they remain relevant to modern life.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Numero Uno - Comite para las Colinas Verdes

That's the "Committee for Green Foothills" in Spanish, and now (thanks to our webmaster Kathy Switky's work) almost all of the information on CGF's website can be automatically translated into Spanish with a single click of the mouse. From our front page, a Spanish reader just clicks on the button labelled in Spanish on the left hand side of the page and almost everything from then on is translated. Some English remains where the words are saved as images instead of text, but the vast majority gets translated. My Spanish is a little rusty, but my reading of the translation is that it gets the point across, which is the whole point of communicating. A quick review of other area environmental group websites indicates that CGF is the first - numero uno! - to do this in our area (Sierra Club does have a translation for national level activities). One more step in environmental outreach!


Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Looking to the future

An excellent Op-Ed in today's Merc by Tom Steinbach from Greenbelt Alliance looks to the future of San Jose and says if "Downtown North" is developing, why develop Coyote Valley?

We may not be quite as enthusiastic about the North First Street development as Greenbelt (see our post here), particularly because of the jobs-housing imbalance, but the point is right on target that Coyote Valley is not needed for development. Any growth that does occur in San Jose should be more central and not destroy farmlands. This Op-Ed brings Greenbelt and other environmental groups even closer towards common ground regarding Coyote Valley, so it is a great way to welcome in the new year.


Looking to the past

"Throwing a Long Shadow" is the title of a new exhibit opening Sunday at the Los Altos History Museum featuring CGF's cofounder, the author/environmentalist Wallace Stegner. More information about the exhibit is at the museum website, here.

The Merc has a good article on the man other authors have called the only American author who deserved a Nobel Prize.

CGF is co-sponsoring the exhibit, featuring materials from our archives. I have read simple comment letters on environmentally-destructive projects that Stegner wrote, just like the ones I write today. The difference, however, is that even his comment letters were works of art. Definitely throwing a long shadow.