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Brian Schmidt

Two Big Victories for Coyote Valley

Coyote Valley, south of San Jose, has experienced many environmental victories and some defeats in the decades-long battle between dooming it to sprawl versus restoring its natural and working landscape. Advocates defended this 7,400-acre valley of farmland, wildlife, and crucial water resources from the sprawl that hit the South Bay in the 1960s, but it could still be lost to unnecessary development radiating from San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy today. Greenbelt Alliance has been the Bay Area’s leader for 60 years in stopping this kind of inappropriate sprawl on critical open space lands. And we could not be happier for the two latest environmental victories in Coyote Valley—both of which are big steps forward in the permanent protection of Coyote Valley.

First is the acquisition by Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) of Fisher Flats, protecting this farmland from imminent development into a sprawling warehouse complex. Second is the publication of the Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage report by the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, a vision for Coyote Valley that acknowledges its crucial wildlife and water resource value, both what exists now and what could be restored in future.

We congratulate POST and the Open Space Authority as the proud originators of these two new achievements, and take pride in these successes ourselves, because they are, in part, the result of our work as well. Greenbelt Alliance’s work over many decades has made these victories a possibility. Most recently, Greenbelt Alliance and our partners (Committee for Green Foothills and others) worked non-stop to defeat a proposed warehouse development at Fisher Flats. This strong resistance by advocates played a crucial role in stopping this under-the-radar development, making sure it followed the proper rules, and ultimately convincing the property owner that selling this valuable land for conservation purposes was the wiser option.

It is because of our advocacy, and collaboration with partners, that Coyote Valley is there to preserve…

Just a few years earlier, we coordinated a coalition of environmental organizations to support the establishment of the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan, which encouraged a comprehensive effort to protect habitat in the county that both acknowledges Coyote Valley’s value and provides a framework to manage environmental protection there. The analysis generated in this and other prior efforts helped develop the Open Space Authority’s Landscape Linkage report. Shortly before that, we served on San Jose’s task force—designing its new General Plan that set aside Mid-Coyote Valley from development prior to 2040. This was the first time since the 1970s that San Jose recognized the value of preserving the land. Mid and North Coyote Valley are the areas most threatened and studied by the Landscape Linkage (South Coyote Valley has already been considered a greenbelt area).

In  2008 and based on work in prior years, Greenbelt Alliance and other advocates successfully opposed a sprawling development across virtually all of Mid and North Coyote Valley. Viewing this all retrospectively, development proposals have come one after another to Coyote Valley over the decades, and advocates like us have stopped the most threatening proposals.

It is because of our advocacy, and collaboration with partners, that Coyote Valley is there to preserve, and that the successes of Fisher Flats and the Landscape Linkage vision are still possible. We congratulate POST and the Open Space Authority and are proud to share a long history of these wonderful achievements with them.

As for what’s next, Greenbelt Alliance and our partners continue to work to protect Coyote Valley. From research on economic issues to integrating Coyote Valley into San Jose’s broader Environmental Sustainability Plan, we will keep you informed and ask for your support as the work proceeds.

Photo: Don DeBold via Flickr

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