Last week the Santa Clara County Supervisors deferred action on a 17-lot subdivision in the hills above Milpitas (our comments on the proposal are here). A large part of the controversy over this proposal stemmed from concerns neighbors have over water use. I suggested the Supervisors discuss the issue of water scarcity at their upcoming land use workshop.
Several other things need further work by the County:
*mitigating the environmental effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the County does nothing about this, because the Air Board has no regulations. The County can't defer to the absence of regulations; it has to figure out for itself what it needs to do. This is a potential opportunity - requiring new developments that waste energy to pay into public transportation funding or energy conservation can mitigate the developers' impacts and provide a benefit to the County.
*protecting wetlands that are not protected by the Clean Water Act. The CWA fails to protect certain wetlands because the federal government's jurisdiction is limited, not because the unprotected wetlands are unimportant. This is like the greenhouse gas problem - because some other agency fails to tell the County what to do, the County does nothing. That is unsatisfactory.
*ending process problems, like County staff making decisions on whether Negative Declarations are adequate when such decisions should be made by the Planning Commission, and scheduling public hearings weeks before written comments are due (which guarantees that the oral comments will not be substantive).
*managing land under conservation easements. Some arrangement should be worked out with the Open Space Authority and MROSD over conservation easements; those agencies are much more involved in these issues than the County is.
I'm sure there's more possibilities - plenty for the County to work on.