SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The San Jose City Council unanimously backed a proposal Tuesday evening to block commercial development, including construction of a massive Amazon-style warehouse, on 314 acres in Coyote Valley.
The proposal rezones portions of the valley from industrial to agricultural and open space use and ends a land battle that has pitted conservationists against commercial developers.
"I want everyone in my city to be able to have those inspiring, wonderful moments, where they have an opportunity to reconnect with nature," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at a press conference held against the backdrop of the lush, green hillsides in the northern Coyote Valley.
Mayor Liccardo was flanked by conservationists, community leaders and representatives from local Native American tribes as he outlined his vision for the valley.
"I hope that there will be beautiful trails. There will be open space for kids to runs around in," he said.
Conservation groups like the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority says the city council's unanimous vote to protect Coyote Valley from future development was a major victory in a decades-long land use battle.
The Open Space Authority is developing a master plan for the hundreds of acres of land that have been preserved for open space and agriculture. While no firm commitments have been made, conservationists say the plan will likely include increased public access and hiking and biking trails.
"We really don't want to invite hundreds and hundreds of cars to come down here to Coyote Valley because that kind of defeats the purpose. So, the question becomes, 'How do we get people here in an equitable way?" said Andrea MacKenzie, General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.
"Recent wildfires and flooding underscore the importance of defending our natural open space to keep our residents safe and honor the stewardship and advocacy of our environmental partners and indigenous community," said Liccardo. "By preserving Coyote Valley, San José remains committed to safeguarding our most precious resources for our children and future generations."
Texas-based real estate developer Crow Holdings Industrial had proposed building two massive warehouses on farmland at the intersection of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Bailey Roads.
The proposed development was located in the heart of the Coyote Valley and surrounded by hundreds of acres of open space.
Over the past several decades, several tech giants — IBM, Apple, Cisco — have had they eye on the Coyote Valley. However, plans to build a tech campus in the valley have come and gone. And in more recent years, the pendulum has swung in the direction of conservation.
"I think it's sad that cities and businesses are getting bigger and bigger and bigger and we're not preserving more of the land for the wildlife," said Melanie Hawk who lives in the neighborhoods north of the valley.
Devin Fehely contributed to this report.
for more features.