Time to Act and Let Those in Power Know if You Want to Save Hecker Pass Area

Dear Editor:
This is an alert to the citizens of Gilroy who care about its
most scenic entry way, the cedar tree-lined Hecker Pass
Highway.
Dear Editor:

This is an alert to the citizens of Gilroy who care about its most scenic entry way, the cedar tree-lined Hecker Pass Highway.

Last night, a joint Planning Commission/City Council study session to discuss the widening of the highway and the possible removal of many of the historical and beautiful cedar trees.

I served on the update committee for our current General Plan, and I remember vividly the passionate discussions regarding preserving this beautiful area. We voted on language that would have offered better protection for the cedar trees by requiring the City of Gilroy to work with Caltrans (our state highway agency) to require any future widening of the Hecker Pass Highway and to incorporate the cedar trees in the median of the roadway.

Unfortunately, our City Council bowed to pressure from the landowners and developers during the Hecker Pass Specific Plan approval last year. They allowed the original and stronger language in our General Plan to be changed and weakened. The new language now allows trees to be removed at intersections and does not require them to be saved in the median of the roadway. They also allowed 530 houses instead of the 98 envisioned by the General Plan – keeping the cedar trees even more important in order to block the view of all those rooftops.

I am a member of Save Open Space – Gilroy (SOS-Gilroy), a local group formed to advocate for agriculture, open space, and our environment. During the Hecker Pass Specific Plan hearings we fought against these and other changes, but were told by the consultants and city staff that we shouldn’t worry because they did not intend widening the highway. Now here we are, one year later, talking about doing just that!

Citizens of Gilroy, if you care about the scenic Hecker Pass Highway, please let your representative know or write a letter to the editor.

Carolyn Tognetti, Gilroy

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