Rally for Coyote Valley focuses on what’s next for preservation efforts

Supporters for the protection of Coyote Valley gathered in front of San Jose City Hall on Tuesday January 22, 2019 along with Mayor Sam Liccardo and other organizations to create dialogue about how to best protect the region. Photo Credit: Arturo Hilario
City Officials and Conservation Groups Gather to Emphasize Support for the Coyote Valley

Arturo Hilario

El Observador

On Tuesday January 22, 2019, just one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, supporters of the efforts to protect the Coyote Valley region of the city gathered at San Jose City Hall alongside local government figure who are also determined to invest into protections for the corridor that lies 20 miles south of downtown.

After the November special elections and the passing of Measure T, which allocated $650 million in funds towards emergency preparedness and general repairs to infrastructure.  

Among the guest speakers at the rally just outside City Hall were Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, Mike Honda and League of Women Voters’ First Vice President and Board Member Gloria Chun Hoo.

Many of the speakers emphasized the determination and support for Measure T and a continuing goal of protecting and investing into the Coyote Valley. Chun Hoo remarked, “We supported significantly Measure T because of the commitment it made to saving Coyote Valley and the commitment and acknowledgment at that time of both the economic and the environmental benefits of this Coyote Valley that is so important to us because it provides to us natural infrastructure – not only for the city of San Jose, but for the region.”

According to the group putting on the rally, Protect Coyote Valley, there have been more than 5,000 signatures calling for protections for the land south of San Jose, which is a corridor connecting the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range to the valley.

Sam Liccardo recalled the history of previous stewards of the environment in San Jose, particularly Janet Gray Hayes, the mayor of San Jose from 1975 to 1983.

It was under Janet Gray Hayes that San Joseans first understood that San Jose could be better, not necessarily bigger. It was [her] leadership that helped us begin the first steps to protecting open space and preventing development from sprawling.”

Mayor Liccardo continued, “We don’t do this because we think we’re smarter than anyone else, that is we don’t preserve open space, protect our hillsides, protect beautiful natural environments like Coyote Valley because we think we’re smarter, we do it because we suspect that future generations are smarter than us. That they’re going to know more about the depletion of our resources than we will. More about the effects of climate change that we do.”

District 2 Councilmember Sergio Jimenez let know the crowd in front of City Hall that the money from Measure T could be used to not only reinforce and protect the region but to buy out any land adjacent to it to expand the Coyote Valley public lands.

“I’ve come to believe that when you protect and preserve our lands they protect us. It’s never about the money, but it always is about the money. So now, the landowners know that we’re not looking for handouts, if we come with money in tow, 50 million dollars supported by all the residents in San Jose. If you combine that with other resources tied to other organizations I feel confident that the landowners can be made whole.”

Mike Honda talked about the history of the land and the importance of protecting it as well. “The name of Coyote Valley used to be Matalan, afterwards the Spaniards came, and we called it Coyote. But the valley, no matter how you pronounce it is a corridor between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo foothills for the wild life. We don’t want to make Coyote Valley a constriction, but an expansive corridor for wildlife. So, all those things we have to do to understand so that we are multitasking for one purpose: preserve and protect Coyote Valley.”

Talks between the city and various organizations will continue for the following few months.