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SJ Plan To Preserve Coyote Valley Is A Boon For Environmentalists But A Bust For Developers

SAN JOSE (KPIX) - San Jose has reached an agreement with environmental groups to preserve 937 acres in the Coyote Valley from development, but landowners are skeptical.

The land on the southern tip of San Jose was annexed decades ago. It was once planned for thousands of homes, an Apple campus and a Cisco campus but now it appears the land will be set aside.

"This agreement is huge because it has to do with sustainability for humans," said environmentalist Roger Castillo.

Castillo said the Coyote Valley is still a natural floodplain collecting and trapping fresh water San Jose beneath the ground.

Additionally, it will also benefit wildlife which will be able to pass from one mountain range to another without significant barriers. Castillo was the first to document Tule Elk returning to the San Jose hills when range was set aside for them from Mt. Hamilton.

"It's really important to let animals have a corridor, so they can pass from one peak to another to keep biodiversity," Castillo said.

But the agreement is not what property owners wanted.

"It's pretty close to 90 years that we've been in the Coyote Valley," said Ken Saso, whose family has grown cherries in the valley since the 1920s.

Saso is afraid the value of his land will stagnate under the agreement and he'll have less to pass on to his family.

"We're not looking for the last dollar in the world. We're just looking for existence, that's all," Saso said.

He also questions why San Jose will let go of space for industry and housing.

"I don't know anyplace in the world where they don't need homes more than in this area."

The City Council still has to vote to approve the agreement.

Saso says depending on the outcome, he may have to challenge the city's decision in court.

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