Friday, March 25, 2011

Action Alert: Santa Clara County Parks

Preserve the mission of County Parks Department as providing regional-level parks and trails

Please email or write to the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors and ask them to approve the staff proposal, to increase the emphasis on acquiring natural habitats, and to reject any proposal to drop "regionality" as the central concern of County acquisitions.

Action Alert: Say NO to Big Wave housing in a Tsunami Zone!

See CGF's Action Alert

Please email or write to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and ask them to uphold the appeals and deny the project.

 - the folks at Committee for Green Foothills

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

People of Gilroy oppose destroying farmland to construct a remote train station

There's a good article in the Gilroy Dispatch about the proposed High Speed Rail system and potential train station in Gilroy, and it quotes CGF Advocate Julie Hutcheson.  One potential location is downtown at the existing station, while the other is far east of town where a lot of prime farmland would be lost:

Residents rail against proposed East Gilroy bullet train station

A study of two proposed locations for a high-speed rail station in Gilroy will address concerns of traffic circulation, parking, land use, economic impacts and other factors, a city official said during a South County Joint Planning Advisory Committee meeting Thursday night in Morgan Hill. 
 The California High-Speed Rail Authority has designated two possible locations for a station in Gilroy - downtown and east of Highway 101 just outside the city. The CHSRA will make its decision later this fall, Bischoff said.
Several residents who attended Thursday's meeting, however, said the east Gilroy station shouldn't be an option.
 Yvonne Sheets-Saucedo read a statement from Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design claiming the east Gilroy station violated an existing 20-year agreement between Santa Clara County's Local Agency Formation Commission, the city of Gilroy and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Jennifer Williams, executive director for the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, said Thursday that land east of Gilroy was "the best remaining farmland," and constructing a rail station in that region was "counter to everything in society we're trying to protect."
 Julie Hutcheson, an advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills, said she feared an east Gilroy station would contribute to a loss of agriculture, due to the station footprint and the tracks themselves.


Friday, March 4, 2011

South County Investigative Series

Please join Committee for Green Foothills and Greenbelt Alliance for our investigative series as we explore the issues facing South Santa Clara County and plan for a future where farms, natural resources and attractive towns thrive side by side. 

Essence of Life: Water Tour 
March 12, 2011
10:00am – 2:30pm
- The tour will start at Nordstrom Well with speakers Director Don Gage of the Santa Clara Valley Water Districtand Mario Iglesias Utilities Systems Manager, Department of Public Works, City of Morgan Hill.  They  will address water supply, water quality, and conservation issues.
- Our second stop will be at Christmas Hill Park/Sylva’s Crossing where Herman Garcia, President, Coastal Habitat Education and Environmental Restoration (CHEER) will address storm water runoff, creek stewardship, and steelhead rearing habitat.
Our third stop is Casa Dos Rios, home of Jean Myers.  She will address creek management and native plant and riparian restoration.
- The tour will end at Jason Stephens Winery where CHEER has a steelhead nursery.  There Herman Garcia will address CHEER’s success in restoring steelhead to Uvas Creek and the regional and statewide recognition they have received for their work. 

Food of Life: Agricultural Panel
April 15, 6:30pm
Join us for a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing South Santa Clara County agriculture at the Lizarran Tapas Restaurant, a fantastic Gilroy restaurant.

Quality of Life: Urban TourApril 16, 9:45am
A walking tour of Downtown Morgan Hill that will highlight the elements of a vibrant community designed around people, including a visit to a community garden and an opportunity to envision a creek walk.

Combining the Components of Life: Community Design Day
May 14, 11:00am
Bring your ideas to this community design day! Led by professional designers and land use planners; through the use of maps and visual imagery, participants will help create designs to inspire decision makers of this region.
Granary 17500 Depot Street, Morgan Hill

(650) 968-7243 x314

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Comment letter on damaging stream environment at Dittos Lane in Los Gatos

(CGF submitted the following comment letter on proposed development that could harm Los Gatos Creek.  The City of Los Gatos needs to have much better defined standards than the ones it used in its analysis.  -Brian)

February 4, 2011

Joe Paulson, Senior Planner
Town of Los Gatos

Re:  Comments on DEIR 10-001 for Dittos Lane Apartments Planned Development Application PD-10-002

Dear Joe:

            The Committee for Green Foothills submits the following comments on the Draft EIR for the Dittos Lane Apartments.  We note that CGF appreciates and supports the intent of providing housing, especially affordable housing, in Los Gatos.  We express the following concerns regarding the DEIR for this project, without taking a position at the present time as to whether the project should proceed.

            Our concerns revolve around the adequacy of the description of potential impacts to the riparian area of Los Gatos Creek.  First, the DEIR needs to adequately describe and assess any potential impact to Los Gatos Creek as a wildlife migration corridor, especially for larger mammals like deer.  The corridor appears to be restricted but still viable, so if this project would further impede that corridor, then that needs to be disclosed and analyzed for its potential individually- and cumulatively- significant impact.

            Second, the standards for assessing overall riparian impacts in the area appear to be overly vague, and further analysis is needed to do adequate analysis.  The standards described in the DEIR are as follows:

ENV-3.1: Preserve riparian corridors and riparian
habitats and avoid disturbances to these areas.
ENV-3.2: Ensure development prevents damage to
native plants in the hillsides, riparian areas,
watersheds and other sensitive natural habitats.
ENV-3.3: Retain creek beds, riparian corridors, water
courses and associated vegetation in their natural
state to assist groundwater percolation and prevent
erosion and downstream sedimentation.
ENV-3.4: Require setbacks or other protective
measures as appropriate to protect riparian corridors.
ENV-3.5: Promote the planting of local native trees
and shrubs on land surrounding reservoirs and
streams, especially adjacent to areas where banks or
channels have been modified for flood protection

DEIR at 4.7-8

The resulting analysis:

Proposed site development would generally avoid
disturbance of riparian corridor vegetation and habitat.
Grading on the site perimeter would require the removal
of 56 trees within the oak/bay woodland that is
contiguous to riparian vegetation. No disturbance would
occur on the lower hillsides above Los Gatos Creek
banks or below the top of bank. As discussed above,
proposed landscaping plans include planting coast live
oaks and other native species. Appropriate mitigation
measures are included in the discussion below to ensure
protection of off-site riparian resources.


Additional analysis is needed to justify the claim that the 56 to-be-removed trees "contiguous" to the riparian area are not actually part of the riparian area.  The DEIR needs to describe what, if any, buffer exists between the development footprint and the riparian edge, and it needs to establish a standard of what constitutes an appropriate buffer.  The Town's neighboring city, San Jose, has a riparian buffer policy of 100 feet, and while that policy also has some exceptions, it is tightening up the policy.  The lack of any expressed policy in this DEIR is disturbing, but it does not excuse the Town from applying a reasonable standard, so that needs to be done.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Brian A. Schmidt
Legislative Advocate, Santa Clara County