At Risk in Santa Clara County
Mark Medeiros grew up in a rural community between Morgan Hill and Gilroy. He saw firsthand why Santa Clara County was known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” for its abundant fresh food.
When Mark saw company after company springing up in Silicon Valley—paving over acres of agricultural land—he found a passion in advocating for protection of the region’s remaining farmland. As a student at San Jose State, he became active in the fight to protect Coyote Valley from development. Thanks to the hard work of Mark and many other residents, San Jose’s newly adopted General PlanA statement of policies, including text and diagrams setting forth objectives, principles, standards and plan proposals, for the long-term future physical development of the city or county. The general plan is a legal document required of each local jurisdiction by the State of California Government Code section 653o1 and adopted by the city council or board of supervi¬sors. In California, the general plan has seven mandatory elements (circulation, conservation, housing, land use, noise, open space, safety and seismic safety) and may include any number of optional elements (such as air quality, economic development, hazardous waste, and parks and recreation). The general plan may also be called a city plan, compre¬hensive plan, or master plan. puts development of much of Coyote Valley off the table through 2040. Other historic threats from the past—such as development proposals in Sargent Ranch south of Gilroy—have also eased in recent years.
Many threats remain in Santa Clara County; over 63,400 acres of land are still at risk. Gilroy is an attractive area for development that too often is sprawlThe process in which the spread of development across the landscape far outpaces population growth. The landscape sprawl creates has four characteristics: a population that is widely dispersed in low-density development; rigid separation of uses, so that homes, commerce and workplaces are segregated from one another; a network of roads laid out to separate land into huge blocks and offering poor access; and a lack of well-defined, thriving activity centers, such as downtowns and town centers. Most of the other features usually associated with sprawl – a lack of transportation choices, relative uniformity of housing options, and difficulty walking from place to place – result from these conditions.. Gilroy’s intent to move its future high speed rail station out of downtown and onto prime agricultural land poses a significant risk, as does rural parcelization of agricultural land in San Martin south of Morgan Hill.
Fortunately, more people are working to sustain and enhance the county’s agricultural heritage in both the greenbelt as well as urban farms in cities. Mark is one of them—he co-founded Veggielution, a 2-acrea unit of area used in land measurement and equal to 43,560 square feet. This is approximately equivalent to 4,840 square yards, 160 square rods, 0.405 hectares, and 4,047 square meters. nonprofit community farm that grew 22,000 pounds of food in 2011 and educates hundreds of people about organic gardening each year. The county has begun a Food Systems Alliance to focus on improving access to healthy food and helping local agriculture become more viable.
These exciting developments, combined with a renewed focus on infill developmentDevelopment of vacant land (usually individual lots or leftover properties) within areas that are already largely developed. by San Jose, the region’s largest city, mean Santa Clara County residents may finally be able to enjoy the benefits of both Silicon Valley and the Valley of Heart’s Delight.