Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sometimes, it's simple

Yesterday, I attended a "Yes on Measure A" rally, complete with a lot of "Yes on Measure A" signs. Afterwards, I walked back to my car as a one-man parade, with a sign held high in each hand.

A man stopped me on the sidewalk.

"What's that sign about?"

"It's supporting Measure A in Santa Clara County, which protects rural areas outside of cities by limiting the amount of new development that can happen there."

He paused a moment.

"That's a good thing to do. They shouldn't be putting lots of houses up in the hills."

It's a pretty straightforward message - I just wish we had a chance to have a similar conversation with every voter in the County.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Letter to Sunnyvale City Council about Measure A

We sent the following letter on Tuesday to the Sunnyvale City Council urging support for Measure A. They ultimately decided to take no position, not because they disagreed with it (mostly they support it), but because they felt it wasn't a city-level issue. As you can see from our letter, we disagree.



October 24, 2006

Sunnyvale City Council

Re: Sunnyvale General Plan Policies that support taking an official position endorsing Measure A, the Land Conservation Initiative

Dear Members of the City Council;

We understand that you have already heard a great deal about Measure A, the Land Conservation Initiative, enough to convince six council members to endorse it individually. Rather than repeat the many reasons why Measure A is a good idea, we wish to address the recommendation by City staff to not take a position on the Measure.

Staff does not make this recommendation based on whether Measure A is a good or bad idea, but rather on the assertion “Generally, staff only recommends a position on a ballot measure if there is an existing City policy on the issue or significant impact on the City.”

In fact, multiple General Plan policies address the issue, and protecting the City from Los Angeles-style sprawl is a significant beneficial impact on the City.

A cursory review of Sunnyvale General Plan policies shows several relevant provisions:


Policy Goal R1 references specific goals and action statements that clearly apply to Measure A:

Policy R1.1 Advocate the City’s interests to regional agencies that make land use and transportation system decisions that affect Sunnyvale.

Policy R1.2 Support coordinated regional transportation system planning and improvements.

Policy R1.3 Promote integrated and coordinated local land use and transportation planning.

Action Statements

R1.3.1 Participate in intergovernmental activities related to regional and sub-regional land use and transportation planning in order to advance the City’s interests.

R1.3.2 Promote shorter commute trips and ease congestion by advocating that all communities provide housing and employment opportunities.

R1.3.3 Monitor significant land use and transportation decisions pending in other communities to ensure that Sunnyvale is not adversely affected.

Because Measure A stops sprawl that could adversely affect Sunnyvale’s interest in sound land use and effective transportation, the City’s policies require support.

Other City policies also apply:

Policy 3.1A.1c. Support legislation which would enhance the availability of adequate water from Sunnyvale's existing sources of supply.

Water conservation 3.1B.2d. Coordinate planning with local, state and federal agencies.

And policies on creek protection:

Surface Runoff Sub-Element

Goals and Policies

Protect Beneficial Uses of Creeks and South San Francisco Bay

Goal 3.4A. Assure the reasonable protection of beneficial uses of creeks and South San Francisco Bay, established in the Regional Board's Basin Plan, and protect environmentally sensitive areas.

Policy 3.4A.2 Comply with regulatory requirements and participate in processes which may result in modifications to regulatory requirements.

3.4A.2c. Review proposed changes in regulatory requirements and comment as appropriate.

Measure A protects water quality and water quantity.

For all these reasons, and the general beneficial impact Measure A will have on County land use that is crucial for keeping Sunnyvale part of an area that does not resemble Southern California, we urge the City to endorse Measure A.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Brian A. Schmidt
Legislative Advocate, Santa Clara County

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Getting information on the Santa Clara County HCP

Want more information on the Santa Clara County Habitat Conservation Plan? CGF has been heavily involved and we'll stay involved, and it's a big issue for the County.

To see what they're planning, go to their website.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Seems like everyone hates Proposition 90, but it's still very dangerous

Last night I attended a debate between the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau and the Yes On Measure A Campaign, something CGF strongly supports. Both sides did a good job (clearly we think Measure A is a great idea, though).

What struck me was how even the Farm Bureau stated they oppose Proposition 90, something CGF also opposes. In retrospect, it makes sense - Prop. 90 will likely block "Right to Farm" ordinances if it passes.

Proposition 90 is an under-the-radar disaster that has very little to do with the eminent domain issue it pretends to be about. The concern is that people won't see the trap, and will pass it. We certainly hope that won't happen.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The problem with Coyote Valley, in one paragraph

I've been struggling to state clearly why Coyote Valley is such a mess of a proposal under the both current and future economic situations. Holly came up with this definition in preparation for materials to present at Nature's Inspirations, which I think is excellent:

The stated reason to build Coyote Valley is to bring needed jobs to San Jose while providing some housing for people employed in Coyote Valley. Currently the Bay Area has massive office vacancies, so there is no demand for new office construction. However, if all the office space planned for development there were actually built, there wouldn’t be enough housing. Developing new office space this far south of the city central just serves to exacerbate sprawl south through Gilroy, San Benito County and the Central Valley.

Now to get that understanding through to the decision-makers....


Monday, October 9, 2006

A victory for environmental education about the Bay

In August, CGF wrote to the Water District, asking them to help sponsor the KTEH public television documentary, Saving the Bay. We've just received a letter from the Water District Board of Directors saying they're providing sponsorship.

CGF has a long history of working on San Francisco Bay protection issues, most recently concerning Bayfront Park in San Mateo County. It's great that Bay protection will get the attention it deserves, and kudos to the Water District for making that possible.