Kalra: San Jose City Council should protect Coyote Valley
Coyote Valley is pictured in this file photo.

On Oct. 27, the San Jose Planning Commission struck down recommendations from city staff and the San Jose General Plan Task Force to protect Coyote Valley from future development. I cannot express how disappointing this vote was for me. I have long advocated for the conservation of Coyote Valley, before my time in the State Assembly and even before my service on the San Jose City Council.

World leaders just concluded the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) to have a collaborative and urgent conversation on how to mitigate, adapt and fund necessary actions to combat climate change. I think it is important and timely to note that of the critical goals set forward by COP26, one that hits close to home is the goal to protect and restore nature for the benefit of people and climate. Specifically, one of the goals mentioned is to support the call to protect or conserve 30% of global land and 30% of the oceans by 2030.

In 2020, I introduced AB 3030, a bill that would have set the same state conservation goal by 2030. Although the bill was stalled, Gov. Gavin Newsom made the bold decision to pass an Executive Order solidifying AB 3030’s intention for California.

We are seeing a movement not just here in California, but globally, to conserve our open spaces to address climate change. It would be a shame to see the San Jose City Council rubberstamp the Planning Commission’s decision that would represent a gigantic leap backwards in our fight against global warming. We need to protect Coyote Valley from future development if we want to maintain our already diminishing wildlife habitat, protect our groundwater and agriculture and see our children grow up in a world that still has access to nature and its benefits.

For several decades we have watched San Jose’s efforts to develop Coyote Valley fail. Why? Because our residents, our advocates, our elected officials and voters have spoken to prioritize smart conservation.

Commercial development proposals for Coyote Valley are rejected because they cause more wear and tear to our roads, threaten our wildlife crossings, destroy native habitat and endangered species and contaminate our groundwater. Not to mention these warehouse proposals that seem to reappear every few years are possibly the worst case scenario of destroying open space in that they would create minimal, low-wage jobs while drastically increasing vehicle emissions throughout the region.

We have the opportunity to stop these efforts once again. We have the opportunity to protect one of our few remaining open spaces in San Jose and the Bay Area. We have the opportunity to be a leader in a worldwide initiative to conserve our land and water.

On Nov. 16, the San Jose City Council will vote on this matter. If the wrong decision is made, the damage to our environment cannot be undone. I urge the council to reject the Planning Commission and protect Coyote Valley.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents the 27th Assembly District, which encompasses approximately half of San Jose and includes all of downtown. He is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks and Wildlife committees.

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