Santa Clara County Expands New Housing Construction Limits in Coyote Valley
Santa Clara County supervisors voted this week to limit development on some 7,500 acres in the unincorporated Coyote Valley just south of San Jose in a bid to preserve farmland for local farmers.
The supervisory board on Tuesday approved a plan to limit the number of single-family homes that can be built in parts of Coyote Valley that do not fall within the city limits of San Jose and Morgan Hill.
County officials have argued that the new land use policy for the region will ensure farmers in the county have access to affordable farmland and the valley’s wildlife will be protected.
“Coyote Valley is a truly unique area … We don’t often see these kinds of opportunities to protect areas like this for future generations,” said supervisor Otto Lee. He said reducing urban sprawl in the valley will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The updated rules will require landowners looking to build a single-family home on a plot of land greater than five acres to devote at least 60 percent or six acres of the plot to cultivation or at least 24 acres to the land. ‘livestock.
Plots under 5 acres will not include minimums for on-site farming, depending on the county.
Non-agricultural development will be limited to 7,500 square feet per parcel of land, and all development will be capped at a cumulative area of 1 acre per parcel of land, or 2 acres if the parcel meets on-site agricultural requirements.
The council’s action came a month after San Jose City Council made similar changes to its land use policy for the Coyote Valley area and nearly a year to the day the council asked county staff to present options for a moratorium on development in the valley.
“When we met last year, I was like, ‘Oh, that might take three months,'” supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “And the truth is, it just gets more complicated.”
Local environmental groups praised the board for the updated policy, commending the county for prioritizing open spaces.
According to the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the county’s farmland has shrunk by 45% over the past two decades.
“The incredible collaboration between the city and the county to change land use plans in favor of protection from paving is unprecedented,” said Andrea Mackenzie, CEO of the Open Space Authority.
Green Foothills, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization focused on San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, called the board vote a “historic” effort to prevent sprawl.
“With this decision, the county says it wants to preserve local agriculture and keep our region resilient in the face of climate change,” said Megan Fluke, executive director of Green Foothills.