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September 26, 2022

Guest View: Quarry jeopardizes our health

Dear Mayor Blankley and Council Members,

We ask you to enact a resolution urging Santa Clara County to deny the application for a quarry on the Sargent Ranch property. We also ask you to direct staff to make official comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report. The proposed quarry would be located four miles south of our city, is within our sphere of influence, and our residents would bear the brunt of its impacts.

Based on our review of the DEIR, the following “significant and unavoidable impacts” (none can be fully mitigated) would have a permanent detrimental effect on health, environment and quality of life within Gilroy, in addition to conflicting with several of our General Plan 2040 policies:

1. Aesthetics: The visual character from Highway 101 at our southern gateway, which the County has designated a scenic highway, would be severely jeopardized. General Plan policy NCR 1.6 calls for “developing and applying preservation tools to protect open space areas in and around the city.”

2. Air Quality: Several of the air pollution elements would cause a clear health threat. General Plan Goal EJ 1 asserts a commitment to environmental justice and the inclusion of those most impacted by environmental problems in decision making. That means our own Gilroy residents!

3. Transportation/Traffic: The addition of 240 one-way trips of heavy gravel trucks/day would severely impact the already heavy traffic and pavement quality on Highway 101, even with the addition of the planned third lanes. See General Plan M 7.1 and M 7.2 about mobility and agency cooperation.

4. Biological Resources: The project would impede natural wildlife movement and biodiversity between the Santa Cruz and Diablo Ranges. See General Plan NCR 1.1 and NCR 1.6 about Habitat Plan Compliance (Gilroy is a member), and our community values set forth in this NCR Chapter.

5. Geology, Soils, and Paleontology: This project would permanently damage the natural terrain and resources. It has the potential to destroy paleontological resources, since it is the heritage land of our local Amah Mutsun tribe. This conflicts with General Plan Policy NCR 1.5.

6. Cultural and Tribal Resources: This project would desecrate the Juristac Tribal Cultural Landscape because it would use irreplaceable natural resources in violation of their beliefs. See General Plan NCR 5.4 which calls for “…the preservation of historical and archaeological sites.” 

Chapter 8 of our General Plan 2040—Natural and Cultural Resources—begins with the following: “Gilroy’s location in the southern Santa Clara Valley, surrounded by hills, streams, and agriculture, is one of the many reasons that residents love living here. Gilroy has a proud, multi-cultural heritage that spans centuries. These sensitive natural and cultural resources are critical to Gilroy’s vibrancy and prosperity, and therefore deserve protection.”

Members of Gilroy Growing Smarter have met to discuss this issue in depth. In light of the above, we are asking you, our City Council Members, to spare our residents the serious health and environmental impacts this project would bring, honor our General Plan 2040, direct staff to officially comment on the DEIR, and ultimately enact a resolution denying the quarry application.

Connie Rogers wrote this article on behalf of Gilroy Growing Smarter.

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