A Foul Wind Blows South

Lesson learned: Agreements with San Jose must spell out
deadlines and include painful consequences for failure to meet
them.
This lesson has been painfully demonstrated by the failure of
the City of San Jose to fulfill a contractual obligation to install
an air monitoring station in South County to detect carbon
monoxide, particulates, and oxides of nitrogen emitted by Calpine’s
Metcalf Energy Plant.
Lesson learned: Agreements with San Jose must spell out deadlines and include painful consequences for failure to meet them.

This lesson has been painfully demonstrated by the failure of the City of San Jose to fulfill a contractual obligation to install an air monitoring station in South County to detect carbon monoxide, particulates, and oxides of nitrogen emitted by Calpine’s Metcalf Energy Plant.

“The agreement didn’t specify a time but certainly one would think that it should be done before the plant was open,” said Tony Eulo of the City of Morgan Hill.

As has been demonstrated time and time again, what the people of South County think and what officials in San Jose think are often worlds apart.

The agreement to which Eulo referred is an out-of-court settlement between the City of San Jose and Calpine Corp. It requires that Calpine install two monitoring stations, one north and one south of the plant, on land secured by the City of San Jose.

It’s worth noting that the northern monitoring station, the one protecting San Jose residents, has already been installed. But the wind in Santa Clara Valley predominantly blows from north to south, meaning that the plant’s pollution is headed primarily to South County.

But while San Jose residents’ air is monitored, South County residents wait because San Jose officials are seemingly unable to find 100 square feet of road-accessible land in South County.

It’s hard to believe that with all the rural, nearly vacant land in South County, San Jose officials can’t find 100 square feet to use for this vital air monitoring station.

Instead, given San Jose’s nearly unblemished record of reckless disregard for South County residents, it looks like more of San Jose’s ingrained bad-neighbor habits. The pattern is demonstrated by San Jose’s Sobrato High School lawsuit, its Coyote Valley planning process, task force members’ reactions to Gavilan College’s Coyote Valley campus plans, and many San Jose officials’ BART-at-any-cost-to-South County positions.

“It’s typical,” Morgan Hill City Councilman Steve Tate said. “Every time we go to San Jose with a concern, they find a way to bury it.”

We urge South County’s city and county leaders not to let this vital concern get buried.

We suggest that the the Gilroy and Morgan Hill city councils, the Santa Clara County board of supervisors and the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance each write strongly worded letters insisting that the air monitoring station be installed immediately.

Each of those agencies should also file formal complaints with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

If San Jose fails to get a South County air monitoring station installed within just a few months, the agencies should file a lawsuit.

History shows that San Jose doesn’t play nice with its South County neighbors. San Jose officials only respond to power plays, as Gavilan College’s recent Coyote Valley campus acquisition shows.

With this air monitoring station, and in all matters involving San Jose, South County’s political leaders must stand up to the San Jose bully and flex some political and legal muscle of their own.

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