Coyote Valley San Jose Deal
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Jessie Brennan

Historic Deal Permanently Protects Land in Coyote Valley

Coyote Valley is 7,400 acres of greenbelt land between San Jose and Morgan Hill. It is home to lush farmland and wildlife and stores two-thirds of Silicon Valley’s groundwater supply. As San Jose’s last great open space and best asset in adapting to climate change, Greenbelt Alliance and our partners have worked together for decades to protect Coyote Valley from sprawl development. On November 6, 2019 the City of San Jose furthered this work by approving a historic $93 million deal to purchase and permanently protect 937 acres of this last-chance landscape. 

This monumental purchase comes on the heels of a huge victory in 2018 when the residents of San Jose voted yes on Measure T, resulting in $50 million to fund conservation and restoration efforts in Coyote Valley. Greenbelt Alliance spearheaded the Measure T campaign, educating the community on the natural benefits Coyote Valley provides.

Among its rich agricultural land and vital wildlife habitat, Coyote Valley is the largest undeveloped portion of Silicon Valley’s groundwater aquifer. The valley’s wetlands and riparian areas act as natural water treatment plants that improve groundwater quality, a vital resource to the residents of Santa Clara county. Inspired by this information, the people of San Jose reacted to our advocacy with resounding support in 2018. And it was this involvement from the community that played a huge part in the City’s decision to buy and protect over 900 acres in Coyote Valley just one year later. 

“This is an opportunity for us to preserve an important part of our past and do so with a clear eye to the future” explained San Jose Mayor and Greenbelt Alliance Board member, Sam Licarrdo. And as our future holds uncertainty due to the impacts of climate change, the 2019 purchase goes beyond the preservation of open space. With the flat valley lands within Coyote Valley serving as natural flood protection, when Coyote Creek floods again—as it did in 2017, causing millions of dollars in damage—communities in San Jose will be out of harm’s way, with the water filling natural lands instead of jeopardizing homes and neighborhoods. 

The natural benefits Coyote Valley provides as the environment adapts to our ever-warming planet are critical for the safety and resilience of our region. We celebrate the City’s decision to purchase and protect land within the valley, but there are still thousands of acres that remain under threat from sprawl development. The reality of climate change is that we will face more droughts, threatening our water and food supply as well as increasing the risk of wildfires. It’s a reality that means intense weather systems that will cause more flooding.

We must adapt to these realities, which means protecting places like Coyote Valley and the unique values and resources it continues to provide for the residents of San Jose and the Bay Area. So we will continue our work by serving on the 2040 Envision San Jose General Plan Task Force to plan for future growth within the city’s urban footprint—keeping development close to shops and jobs and away from Coyote Valley’s unprotected land. You can support this work by donating to Greenbelt Alliance today. 

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We’d like to thank our friends at Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority & Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) for their leadership in the efforts to protect Coyote Valley.

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