Thursday, January 29, 2009

The highway lobby can be beaten

Jonathan Zasloff writes of the difficulty that environmental advocates have had in fighting the highway lobby, pointing to SB375, a California climate change law, that was nearly defeated solely by the highway lobbyists. Still, SB375 became law, and our earliest victories here at CGF were in fighting plans to strew massive highways all over the Peninsula.

Lots to be done, but we'll be working hard to do it.

Bonus blogging - new information's out showing the earthquake hazard of building in floodplains of major streams: "If a major earthquake rattles the South Bay, the sandy soils alongside San Jose's two largest rivers pose the highest risks to modern businesses and homes in Santa Clara County, according to new seismic maps by the U.S. Geological Survey. The maps reveal the hidden danger along San Jose's ancestral Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek flood plains...."

Still more reasons to keep those floodplains natural and open, whenever possible.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Patagonia's Freedom to Roam, wildlife corridor project

A very good project undertaken by Patagonia: Freedom to Roam, a project to "create, restore, and protect wildways or corridors between habitats so animals can survive."

We at the Committee have done extensive work to protect local wildlife corridors, both the crucially-threatened one in Coyote Valley and others throughout the South Bay and South Valley. While Patagonia's project map focuses on national-scale corridors, local ones are just as important.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CGF comments at today's San Mateo County Planning Commission

(Not sure how useful this will be, but Lennie and I testified at today's San Mateo Planning Commission about Stanford's inadequate Sustainable Development Study. Attached below are my notes, improved somewhat so others might understand them. I think we had some success persuading the Commission and maybe staff. -Brian)

Primary disagreement with staff - 25 year limitation on analyzing sustainability

Question is whether this fully complies with what Stfd promised, and if not whether SM county should be interested in promoting compliance

Not just a check-off box - Stanford MUST submit an adequate plan to continue new development

Two problems with the non-compliance – nowhere in the permit plan or admin record was the study limited to a restricted time frame – a lot of info suggests otherwise

Second, that by definition you can't do an adequate sustainability study while limiting it to a short time frame like 25 years

No definition was included – page 94

Here's a def they could use:
"A sustainable process or condition is one that can be maintained indefinitely without progressive diminution of valued qualities inside or outside the system in which the process operates or the condition prevails."

No criteria for measurement, analysis, or conclusions re sustainability

Just one example of effects on SM County – traffic impacts from development post-2035

Can you analyze beyond 2035 - yes, two examples

Not sure about your process – I suggest you recommend letter not go forward as written

Analogy - Alpine Road sidewalk expansion also failed to meet Stanford's original promise

Encouraged by Joe Stagner's reference to planning to 2050

Friday, January 9, 2009

Support for the Single-Use Carryout Bag Fee Ordinance

(We submitted the letter below to the City of Morgan Hill regarding the proposal to require a fee for using plastic or paper bags. -Brian)

January 8, 2009

Tony Eulo

City of Morgan Hill

Re: Committee for Green Foothills' support for the Single-Use Carryout Bag Fee Ordinance

Dear Tony;

The Committee for Green Foothills supports Morgan Hill's proposed Bag Fee Ordinance. As any Morgan Hill resident that has taken the opportunity to hike Coyote Ridge can see (and if any residents haven't hiked there, they should), even a well-managed landfill like Kirby Landfill has problems with wind-blown plastic bags escaping the landfill and polluting the countryside. These bags often settle in Coyote Ridge stream areas where they obstruct growth of endangered plants only found by the streams. Any streamside hiker or canoeist throughout the County will find countless plastic bags along larger creeks and rivers, and bags often obstruct storm sewer grates and limit flooding drainage. From the esthetic ugliness along roadsides alone, plastic bags constitute the perfect example of an environmental externality whose cost, absent the proposed fee, is imposed instead on society at large.

Paper bags create similar problems. When we opposed the permanent logging permit that San Jose Water Company requested for thousands of acres of redwoods and Douglas firs from Lexington Reservoir extending southeast halfway to Morgan Hill, we were appropriately challenged as to where wood and wood pulp would come from instead. An important response to this challenge is to avoid wasting wood pulp and energy in paper bags, and the fee will appropriately reduce that waste.

We hope that Morgan Hill will move forward in support of the position of City staff, Santa Clara County Cities Association, and the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission of Santa Clara County.

Please contact us if you have any questions.


Brian A. Schmidt

Legislative Advocate, Santa Clara County

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Livable Streets Network

I recently came across the Livable Streets Network, an online community of smart-growth activism. They could be thought of as being just across the fence from CGF - we work to fight bad growth in the form of sprawl, and they work to get smart growth in the form of livable cities. Both efforts work hand-in-hand. There are some cross-cutting issues as well, so I'll be adding them to our links list on the right side of this blog.