A referendum will be held on February 5th in the City of Santa Clara over the 17-acre BAREC property on 90 North Winchester Road, bordering San Jose. This is a historic agricultural research and University of California agricultural extension project, and one of the small number of surviving parts of prime farmland in North Santa Clara County. Admittedly, the property is situated well for high-density, smart growth project, if an appropriate one were to be proposed there.
The land is currently zoned for its historical agricultural use, with a General Plan overlay designation of moderate-density residential development, should the land ever get developed. Santa Clara has supported a proposal by the State of California and land developers to decrease the residential density expected for the property, and get rid of the historic agriculture without mitigating for its loss.
The Committee for Green Foothills supports moving towards a balance between jobs and housing to avoid sprawl and long distance commuting, and we oppose the loss of agricultural land where such loss occurs without mitigation. The proposed development would destroy one of the last parts of our region's agricultural and open space heritage while also reducing the amount of residential development that would otherwise occur if the property were to be developed. For these two reasons, CGF opposes this project as currently designed and supports a "No" vote on Measures A and B in the City of Santa Clara on Febuary 5th.
Better alternatives exist. Santa Clara could save the entire parcel for its open space and historic agricultural value, working together the state and with neighboring, parks-deficient San Jose to make both Santa Clara and San Jose more attractive and livable cities that promote smart growth. Or some amount of the parcel could be developed at the higher density that originally had been designated, and any loss of agricultural value mitigated through on-site programs and through other mitigations either in Santa Clara or nearby.
More information is available at SaveBAREC.