Abandon ship in Coyote Valley

We’ve got a vague yet pervasive sense of frustration and
bewilderment about the entire Coyote Valley development proposal,
process and reaction.
Evidence is rapidly mounting that the project should be
abandoned.
We’ve got a vague yet pervasive sense of frustration and bewilderment about the entire Coyote Valley development proposal, process and reaction.

Evidence is rapidly mounting that the project should be abandoned. The City of San Jose is nowhere close to satisfying its own “development triggers” that supposedly must be met before earth will be moved in the region just north of Morgan Hill.

Those conditions include a requirement that the north part of Coyote Valley have 5,000 new jobs. Cisco Systems, once touted as the largest employer heading to Coyote Valley, will very likely not build there at all.

A five-year economic forecast projecting balanced budgets or surpluses for the City of San Jose, stability in the city’s financial relationship with the state, and city services restored to 1993 levels round out the “triggers” that would jumpstart development in Coyote Valley. None of these conditions will be met anytime soon.

It all adds up to a completely unnecessary development. But San Jose Council members don’t need to take our word. They just need to listen to their own budget director.

“Until things pick up or we reduce services, we will probably have shortfalls for the foreseeable future,” Larry Lisenbee said last month. “Until I see some indications that the job situation is improving, I will caution the City Council that they should not expect any upswing in the Silicon Valley economy.”

Further evidence of the redundancy of this project comes in the vast amounts of empty office and warehouse space gathering dust in San Jose and its northern suburbs, the real heart of Silicon Valley.

Then there’s the news that the development will not have nearly enough water to meet the demands of the 80,000 residents in 25,000 homes and 50,000 workers planned for Coyote Valley. That’s just one of many environmental concerns about this proposal that has us scratching our heads and wondering: where are the tree huggers? Why aren’t environmentalists lining up at the courthouse to file lawsuits to stop this development? Why isn’t the Santa Clara Valley Water District vociferously objecting in public?

We encourage them to take a hard look at Coyote Valley, the process and the plan and to raise their objections now, loudly, and in court, before it is too late.

Finally, there are the schools. Coyote Valley is currently in the Morgan Hill Unified School District, which extends to Bernal Road in south San Jose. But MHUSD does not have a representative on the planning task force. No school board member or district employee sits on the panel that’s planning Coyote Valley schools. That alone is an outrage. But now, Coyote Valley planners have set aside plots of land for schools that probably won’t meet state standards. There’s an understandable buzz in the Morgan Hill community about splitting the district so that Coyote Valley and points north become an independent school district or join an existing district in San Jose.

That’s an idea with a lot of appeal, but with the possibility of many unintended and unpleasant consequences, not the least of which are financial.

The developers who are pushing Coyote Valley development and paying for the task force’s work have a debt to the taxpayers within its borders: They should pay for a study of the school district split by a consultant of Morgan Hill’s choosing.

It’s unfair to burden the district and its taxpayers with the cost of determining how best to react to this uninvited plan which they have no part in shaping.

The frustration is low-level and pervasive, but it’s growing. The San Jose City Council should put the brakes on this project before it’s hit with lawsuits from environmentalists, the school district and neighboring communities.

There’s simply no sense in lining lawyers’ pockets for this unnecessary project that serves only to increase San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales’ ego and home developers’ bank accounts.

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