Having just returned to my downtown lair from a week of hiking in the southern desert, it is easy for me to see and feel the positive effects of open spaces on the human psyche. Perhaps that is why I am finding it even more difficult than usual to tacitly swallow the Coyote Valley development boondoggle as inevitable. Apparently, given the facts presented in the new financial analysis of the planned community there, and the strong “go-slow” position taken by the Mercury News in a recent editorial, others feel the same way. However, I would describe my own attitude as more of a “no-go” for the development.
How big is big enough? Do you think that the developers—who are salivating at the prospect of getting their grubby little fingers on all of that perfect, beautifully situated, USDA Prime, revenue-generating space—care one whit about the 1 million citizens of this city? Well, don’t fool yourself—they don’t. They are interested in filling their infinite, voluminous pockets with yet more dough, and looking out for number one. “And,” as Frank Zappa aptly put it, “number one ain’t you; you ain’t even number two.”
In the meantime, if you want to see what the future of Coyote Valley would look like if the pro-development evil-doers get their way, look no further than the recently minted “developer’s paradise” of Santa Clarita. The next time you pass Magic Mountain on your way to LA, take a look out of the left side of your car. Even better, take a detour off of I-5 north on Highway 14 for a few miles—you won’t believe your eyes. Thirty years ago, this area was ranchland and wide open spaces too. The unrelieved ugliness that you will see in Santa Clarita is what we will get here if we are not very careful.
Our mayoral candidates need to let us know exactly where they stand on the issue of further development around the fringes of the city, and Coyote Valley in particular. So far David Pandori is the only one to state opposition to any development planning in Coyote Valley. This is what I would like to hear from the others too, but I won’t hold my breath.
I know that we are lucky in that there are a number of beautiful and well-maintained county parks ringing the city. But Coyote Valley is special: a physical and psychological buffer zone between San Jose and the quickly emerging metropolis comprised of Morgan Hill-Gilroy-Salinas. It’s the kind of rapidly-dwindling open space that reminds us natives, of more than 50 years of age, what this state used to look like before the big-money real estate barons got power here. Let’s leave it as it is to give ourselves a place for feasting eye and soul—a picture postcard of what the countryside used to look like before Santa Clarita became the model of modern Western civilization.