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Photo by Tom Grey

Conservation Corner November/December 2016

Conservation Corner: What our Environmental Advocacy Team is working on...

by Shani Kleinhaus, SCVAS Environmental Advocate


We have previously reported on plans to pave North Coyote Valley with an industrial-sized warehouse and distribution center. The first proposal has now been submitted for a thirty-acre parcel on Blanchard Road, south of Tulare Hill. 


North of Highway 237/Alviso, plans are also moving forward to build data centers and distribution centers on both sides of Coyote Creek (in Milpitas and in North San Jose). New hotels and buildings are also planned along the Guadalupe Creek in Alviso. Top Golf, an indoor/outdoor entertainment facility, proposals would offer food, drink, music and a three-story golf driving range open to the public until 2AM every day. The project includes 120-ft tall fences at the 100-ft setback from the river.


San Jose is considering the deregulation of removal of trees in the city. Currently, removal of a large tree requires a permit, providing the public with transparency and allowing us to express concern. We are concerned with this potential change, especially as it applies to native trees (such as oaks and sycamores), removal of more than three trees per site, or removal of trees from riparian and sensitive areas. We have asked that transparency be maintained in order to reduce the impact on visual and biological resources. 


Almaden Valley/Santa Teresa Hills: Should open space near Almaden Lake be converted to housing? Recently, a debate surrounding a twenty-acre parcel of open space located near San Jose’s Almaden Lake Park has caused us great concern. This area was designated private open space when housing development was clustered into an adjacent parcel. Now, housing is proposed for at least two acres, and the remaining acreage would be given to the public for open space and trail development. We are opposed to the change in General Plan designation: it would pollute the view of the hills from Almaden Lake Park, destroy habitat for birds and a wildlife corridor that connects Santa Teresa Park to Los Alamitos Creek and Almaden Valley, and continue sprawl into greenbelts and open space.


Mountain View is in the process of approving Moffett Gateway, a ten-acre project on Stevens Creek in a triangle formed by Highways 101 and 85 and Moffett Boulevard. The project includes a 255-room hotel, 200,000 square-foot office building, a six-level above-grade parking structure, and will include the removal of 187 heritage trees. We are concerned because of the close proximity of this project to riparian corridor (75 feet) and the risk of bird collisions. We have highlighted the importance of bird-safe design and riparian setback. In discussions, developers have agreed to address our concerns. 


We see renewed efforts to develop Young Ranch, a 79-home subdivision on the 2,150 acres of Young Ranch, located in the southeast hillsides of San Jose.  The ranch’s rolling hills and deep valleys are home to elk, deer, butterflies, birds, and wildflowers; these are beautiful landscapes that should be protected. The developers are offering to donate 58% of the parcel to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan to help preserve the endangered species of the area, and to retain most of the developed part of the ranch as open space. We remain concerned with the effects of sprawl on the bird and wildlife species of our region, and the continued pressure on wildlife species as their habitats are reduced and fragmented while being invaded by humans, pets and automobiles.


Victory for Crystal Springs Watershed: 


Great news for wildlife and water quality! The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to table (stop discussing) a proposal to open up the Peninsula Watershed Lands to unlimited public access, meaning that public access will continue to be restricted to docent-led tours. A community of Bay Area residents has been advocating for opening all of Crystal Springs Watershed to hikers, bikers and equestrians. Nestled within the pristine peninsula landscape of San Mateo County just off I-280, the watershed surrounds a reservoir providing the Bay Area with high-quality drinking water. The reservoir and watershed also serve as protected habitat for fish, wildlife, and endangered species. Opening this area for the public to roam freely could push wildlife out of their habitat, affect the quality of our water supply, and increase the possibility of wildfires. We are celebrating a victory this week as the tireless work of the Committee for Green Foothills, Sierra Club (Loma Prieta and San Francisco Bay Chapters), California Native Plant Society, Sequoia Audubon Society, Golden Gate Audubon Society and Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society has paid off. We are relieved that this beautiful place will continue to be protected from encroachment.


For more information or to get involved in conservation and advocacy work, contact Shani at