October 12, 2010
Brookside Estate project on Guadalupe Mines Road
Dear Mayor Reed and City Council Members;
The Committee for Green Foothills believes that the Brookside Estate rezoning project on Guadalupe Mines Road suffers from both legal flaws and policy flaws. The legal flaws stem from the beginning of the project when environmental groups were not notified of the environmental review, and from the dismissive response of a Negative Declaration for a project that uproots hundreds of trees, requiring years and decades before the replacement trees will grow to size (if they actually grow successfully). Legal flaws also include the vast expansion of the use of the site from the limited intensity of activity only during the work hours for five days a week, to a 24-hour, seven days a week activity of nearly 90 residences. Policy flaws include the significant job losses to the City from the permanent jobs from the company that is presently on the site, to the decision to ignore the recommendations of both Planning staff and of the City's Planning Commission and exempt this project from the 100-foot riparian buffer policy that the City talks so proudly about in other contexts. Flaws also include a lack of contact or follow through with regulatory agencies, ignoring that that there are special status species in the vicinity, and a faulty method of determination of ‘riparian edge’.
Despite all the above, and while the Committee for Green Foothills has openly considered litigation regarding this project, we are also aware of good faith efforts by staff, the Mayor's Office, and by Council Members Kalra and Pyle to address the issue of stream protection. While every effort would be made to separate that work from ongoing litigation, some defensiveness is inevitable.
Given the potential conflict, the potential for progress on overall policy, and the subsequent planning that will still occur on the Brookside Estate project, the Committee for Green Foothills' Board of Director members support a dual path in lieu of litigation at present, where the Committee will stay intensely involved in all subsequent planning for Brookside Estate, and the Committee will be involved with better overall policies.
We hereby request that from this time on, unlike the previous practice, that we and all other environmental organizations be notified of any project, permit, or environmental review related to Brookside Estate. We appreciate the willingness to improve the present policy, and hope to achieve substantial improvements to protect the environment and surrounding community near the Brookside Estate project.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Brian A. Schmidt
Santa Clara County