We understand the urge to sue San Jose over Coyote Valley, but let’s give them one last chance

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It’s not surprising that South Valley’s frustration at being
ignored in the Coyote Valley planning process has produced talk of
litigation.
It’s not surprising that South Valley’s frustration at being ignored in the Coyote Valley planning process has produced talk of litigation. After all, San Jose officials repeatedly have denied requests for a place at the planning table from South Valley agencies that will be dramatically impacted by the 80,000-resident development.

When officials from the two agencies responsible for educating the residents of Coyote Valley – the Morgan Hill Unified School District and Gavilan Community College – have no representation on the Coyote Valley Specific Plan task force; when officials from neighboring communities that will bear a huge brunt of the impact of the valley’s development – Morgan Hill and Gilroy, just for starters – can’t get a place at the table. Hollister and San Benito County too, have an interest in what’s going on. Gavilan will have to plan to provide services to the Coyote Valley as well as San Benito County. Also, it would be foolish to think that people working in the Coyote Valley development won’t come our way looking for reasonably-priced housing. That will put even more drivers on our roads during the morning commute.

It’s no wonder that visions of lawsuits start dancing in aggrieved parties’ heads.

While we sympathize with the litigious urge, we urge restraint at this point. Before bringing out the big legal guns, we’d recommend a strongly worded reminder to the City of San Jose that they ignore South Valley at their precious development’s peril.

We suggest that Morgan Hill City Attorney Helene Leichter take the lead in drafting a letter, in cooperation with Gavilan, MHUSD and City of Gilroy officials, to San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales reminding him that any plan developed without South Valley’s official input is by its very nature flawed and will be challenged. The San Benito County Board of Supervisors and the Hollister City Council should take a vote supporting such a letter. Gonzales should also be reminded that his precious legacy development will require stiff environmental review and that any Environmental Impact Report developed without adequate consideration of impacts on South Valley will be fatally flawed and will be challenged.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to develop a plan for Coyote Valley that has input from South Valley. It would be better for San Jose to draft a plan that is considerate of its neighbors and the educational agencies already responsible for the region. If it fails to do so, San Jose is inviting expensive and numerous lawsuits that will make the project more expensive and time-consuming.

For our part, South Valley residents have other ways we’d rather spend our time and resources than on lawyers fighting a municipal bully. Let’s make one last effort to find a compromise with San Jose that doesn’t run roughshod over our way of life.

But San Jose shouldn’t mistake our willingness to try one last time to be part of the planning process as a lack of resolve to fight a legal battle if it becomes necessary. If push comes to shove, South Valley residents will be more than ready to meet the Bay Area bully in court.

To respond to this editorial or comment on this issue, please send or bring letters to Editor, Hollister Free Lance, 350 Sixth St., Hollister, Calif. 95023 or fax to 637-4104 or e-mail to [email protected]

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