Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Good news/bad news - the Merc covers harsh reviews of the Coyote Valley report

The good news is the news coverage given by the Mercury News to the unusually harsh criticism by government agencies and others over the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Coyote Valley:

An unusually harsh set of comments by conservation groups and federal, state and local government agencies threatens to send San Jose's environmental review of Coyote Valley back to the drawing board.

The city has received a 1,300-page mountain of comment letters on the environmental assessment issued in April. State law requires a valid assessment before the city can consider a plan to allow 25,000 homes and 50,000 jobs on Coyote's farmlands.

While city planners say they won't decide until later this month whether the report needs to be redone, the collective weight of so many key environmental players and the wide scope of their critiques make it likely the city will do so. If not, and if the city council certifies the existing analysis, one or more of those agencies or organizations is likely to sue over its adequacy.

The only bad aspect of the coverage is that we were planning to do a press release around the same issue, and now it's much less likely to get media attention. The press release would have focused more specifically on our objections.

Still, we're glad this is getting the attention it deserves.


Friday, July 13, 2007

CGF in the news - San Mateo County open space decision

(As time permits, we'll put a link here on the blog to articles when CGF's discussed in the news media. -Brian)

Victory for open-space proponents

REDWOOD CITY — Owners of some unincorporated parcels in San Mateo County
who are considering subdivision may have to think about its opposite: open

The San Mateo County Planning Commission unanimously agreed Wednesday to
recommend an amendment to zoning rules requiring owners subdividing large lots —
when those lots are zoned as "resource management district" for low-density uses
— to relinquish a certain portion for open space in perpetuity.

The Board of Supervisors will have final say on the amendment, which will
come before them at a future meeting.


Environmental groups support the amendment to the regulations, which
haven't been updated since they were developed in 1973.
"The conservation
easement does not change the allowable uses on the property, does not change the
allowable density," said Lennie Roberts, legislative advocate for Committee for
Green Foothills. "The conservation easement will ensure that once a property is
subdivided and its entitlements are used, a future owner can not come back and
take a bite of that apple."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CGF letter of support for AB 697

(We submitted the following letter to support AB 697, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin to extend the allowable payback time for bonds issued by MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District. This may sound technical and boring, but the result is more upfront money to buy land before the costs spiral out of control. We hope it passes. -Brian)

July 10, 2007

Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod
Standing Committee on Local Government

California State Senate
Sacramento, CA 9581
FAX 916. 445-0128
AB 697 (Ruskin): SUPPORT

Dear Chairperson McLeod:

The Committee for Green Foothills (CGF) strongly urges you to support AB 697, which would increase needed resources to purchase and preserve vital public open space lands by increasing the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s debt term from 20 years to 30 years. CGF was instrumental in the founding of MROSD, and we know that this change would further the effectiveness of this important institution for protecting open space.

As you know, rising real estate prices threaten the midpeninsula’s last remaining natural open space lands. We support decisive action by the District to buy open space areas to protect our natural environment and create opportunities for public recreation. AB 697 would benefit the public by saving taxpayer money and producing more funds to purchase and preserve open space lands.

The District has a stable source of income through local property taxes and has received Moody’s highest rating. Because short-term rates in the current bond market are not much different than long-term rates the District would not have to pay higher interest rates for paying back its debt over a longer-term. The extension of the District's debt is appropriate also because the District's financing is only aimed at the purchase of land for preservation as open space – and the public will own this land in perpetuity.

We ask for your help in ensuring the passage of this critical change in the District’s enabling legislation that would save taxpayers money and increase funds to purchase and preserve essential public open space lands that are vanishing quickly.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Brian A. Schmidt
Legislative Advocate, Santa Clara County

Monday, July 9, 2007

Arctic warming affecting California coastal ecology

Via Grist, a disturbing story about the gray whales that migrate through the San Mateo County coastal area: pronounced warming means there's not enough food in the Arctic zones to support the migration, so whales are switching to different food items and staying in different areas. California may have some more resident whales, but a less dependable migration, and fewer baby whales seems likely to result in a smaller population overall. The overall result on our coastal ecology and the whale-watching economy isn't clear yet.