Sen. Jim Beall’s Bill to Spur Infill Development, Protect Coyote Valley Moves to Governor’s Desk

State Sen. Jim Beall had a good reason to sleep in Tuesday—he was recovering after pulling an almost-all-nighter to meet deadline for moving bills to the governor’s desk.

The legislative session wrapped up close to 2am Tuesday, the veteran Silicon Valley lawmaker said in a phone call later that day. He woke up at 10am, tied up some loose ends and then trekked back home to San Jose by about half-past 3.

“Today is the first time I’ve been in San Jose in the last nine days,” the soon-to-term-out legislator said. “My wife and daughter are very happy about it.”

For the 68-year-old lawmaker, burning the midnight oil paid off for three key bills, including one he hopes will spur new infill development while protecting open spaces.

Beall said SB 940 meets a couple vital needs for the Capital of Silicon Valley. If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it into law, which he has 30 days to do, it would boost housing production and protect the rolling hills of Coyote Valley from urban sprawl.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo applauded the proposed legislation, calling SB 940 a watershed moment for the city and the pristine open space around it.

“Our state’s housing crisis—as well as the growing importance of open space and resilient landscapes—presents us with a generation-defining moment,” Liccardo said about the pending bill. “Senate Bill 940 ... will allow us to make good on the early investment that we’ve made to preserve nearly 1,000 acres in Coyote Valley.”

Also moving to the governor’s desk is Beall’s SB 803, which would provide training and resources for mental health peer support specialists, and SB 912, which would extend the age to provide services for foster youth from 18 to 21.

SB 940 aims to address climate change and the housing crisis by boosting high-capacity residential construction and mitigating wildfire risk by reducing urban sprawl.

For Beall, getting SB 940 handed off to Newsom represents something very personal. In 1970, Beall was on the San Jose Planning Commission that pushed the city to preserve Coyote Valley by designating it as a protected open space.

“Since then, various attempts by developers, Apple, home builders and other people who have wanted to develop in Coyote Valley have transpired,” Beall said. “Each time that happened, there had to be a big fight. [Yet until the open-space designation], there was no permanent agreement to preserve Coyote Valley. So this was really an important bill for me to make sure the Coyote Valley is totally preserved and protected permanently. SB 940 kind of completes the circle for me.”

Beall—who terms out as the 15th State Senate District representative at the end of the year—spent the end of this past legislative session voting on hundreds of bills as the deadline approached, making for a chaotic and frenzied scene.

“It was a real intense period of time,” Beall told San Jose Inside. “And on top of that, a lot of bills were amended at the last minute, so you had to keep on top of those. People were angry, upset, agitated. At the same time, we’re trying to pass all these bills. So it was quite a way to end my career as a state senator. Now, I just want to decompress.”

3 Comments

  1. Coyote Valley should have thousands and thousands and thousands of middle class homes.

    The double speak in this article how you got here.

    Urban sprawl does not cause wildfire, nor does global warming, poorly managed forest and open spaces do.

    And open spaces are the poster child for welfare for the rich.

  2. Again with the high density infilling.
    This fanaticism for “affordable housing” continues to push San Jose further into slumdom.
    But on the positive side and without giving that communist Jim Beall too much credit, I AM happy to see the bucolic character of Coyote Valley preserved.