music in the park san jose

Morgan Hill School Board trustees and Superintendent Carolyn
McKennan demanded from San Jose planners Tuesday night a bigger say
in upcoming decisions about Coyote Valley development.
Morgan Hill School Board trustees and Superintendent Carolyn McKennan demanded from San Jose planners Tuesday night a bigger say in upcoming decisions about Coyote Valley development.

“We have no adequate representation (on the Coyote Valley Task Force),” Trustee Shelle Thomas said. “It’s not enough that we do outreach, that we attend meetings. We need to have representation.”

There has been discussion off and on for decades on the possibility of the Morgan Hill School District changing its boundaries so it no longer extends into the Coyote Valley and San Jose. Several speakers at the meeting raised that issue.

Mayor Dennis Kennedy attended Tuesday’s meeting. During a similar presentation to the City Council March 10, the council requested the planners take the message back to San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales that the council would also like to have formal representation on the task force.

Gonzales rejected the proposal.

Kennedy voiced his support of the School Board’s request for more formal representation Tuesday night.

“You have hit on the very same issues that we did when we met with them,” he told trustees. “The number one issue we gave them is that we need and want to have meaningful input to the process. We were rejected twice. It is important that your staff is involved on the technical advisory committee. If there is a policy issue or a problem, neither you nor one of us is at the table to address it.”

Boyd told trustees that decisions will not be made by the technical advisory committee, only by the task force. Kennedy told trustees it would be important for them to have school district staff on the committee.

“It’s the next best option other than serving on the task force,” he said. “Coyote Valley will have a tremendous impact on both the City of Morgan Hill and the School District.”

Decisions to develop the valley with “smart growth” were made by San Jose as long as two decades ago. The San Jose City Council also established “triggers” in order to plan for industrial development before housing development.

Triggers include a finished detailed specific plan, 5,000 new jobs in the North Coyote campus industrial area and a balanced city budget with a five-year projection of revenue exceeding expenses and city service levels.

During Tuesday’s special board meeting, San Jose Principal Planner Darryl Boyd and Planner Salifu Yakubu presented an update on progress of the development plan immediately north of the city limits.

Trustees were given the opportunity to ask questions and present their opinions.

“The expectation is not that the School Board would have to sit down with a blank slate and fill it in (with schools and their locations within the Coyote Valley),” said Boyd. “It would be a collaborative process. The technical advisory committee would develop proposals, which would be brought to the task force.”

The Coyote Valley Specific Plan (CVSP) calls for 80,000 residents in the development, 25,000 residential units and 50,000 jobs. An estimated 8-10 elementary schools, two middle schools and at least one high school would be needed.

The Morgan Hill School District has two schools at the northern end of the district in south San Jose, Los Paseos Elementary and Martin Murphy Middle. Encinal Elementary, also located in south San Jose on Monterey Road at Bailey Avenue, was closed last year and re-opened by the Charter School of Morgan Hill after school officials requested housing by the district.

The district is currently building Sobrato High, scheduled to open in August, in south San Jose but scheduled to be annexed by Morgan Hill. The district spent months in mediation with the City of San Jose and the City of Morgan Hill to agree on settlement of a lawsuit filed by San Jose because part of the land donated for Sobrato was in a greenbelt area.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, board watcher Harlan Warthen cautioned trustees.

“Just an observation, but I can’t remember in my 25 years in the area that San Jose has ever done anything to help Morgan Hill,” Wartehn said. “I ask you to give definite consideration to letting them have their own district (Coyote Valley).

“If not, the burdens we’ll be saddled with will be long-reaching, beyond the 10-20 year scope of the project … It is unrealistic to expect Morgan Hill and San Martin to fund this. It’s not our problem.”

Victoria Battison, spokeswoman for CARE (Community Alliance for Responsible Education), asked if the schools located in the project would be the responsibility of MHUSD.

“What percentage of the Coyote Valley do you anticipate will be covered by San Jose and what percentage by Morgan Hill,” she asked.

“All Morgan Hill,” Trustee Del Foster told her. “Because our district goes all the way up to Bernal Road.”

During the March 19 meeting of the City/School District Liaison Committee, McKennan told the committee that usually residents of an area only could form a new school district. However, she told the committee, she had learned that landowners can also form a new district.

The timeline, McKennan said Tuesday night, makes it imperative that discussions begin soon.

“Even if you say 10 years (for development to begin), that’s not too soon to be thinking about these issues,” she said. “It’s not too soon to be in the same room with you … This will be three times the size of our district. To be proactive now, to be involved, is important. It does not describe the angst that we feel.”

Yakubu told McKennan and the trustees that the district will be hearing from the planning department later in the week to set up a meeting to involve district staff on the technical committee.

David Vossbrink, communications director for Gonzales, said the school board and the City of Morgan Hill are already represented on the technical advisory committee. Rebecca Tolentino from the city’s planning department and McKennan sit on that committee.

Tolentino said she has attended several monthly meetings and sends a back up when she is not available to go but does not remember anyone from the school district at the meetings.

Julie Zintsmaster, McKennan’s administrative assistant, said McKennan tries to attend as many meetings as possible but finds it difficult because meetings are often canceled. Tolentino said meetings have been canceled but are usually rescheduled.

McKennan, Zintsmaster said, would try to attend more meetings in the future, now that the Coyote Valley Specific Plan has been presented to district trustees.

Gonzales and the San Jose City Council are not likely to increase the size of the Coyote Valley Task Force, Vossbrink said. He did comment that, if any member of the task force were to step down, the council could appoint a replacement.

The only member of that task force with any connection to Morgan Hill is Russ Danielson, who was appointed to the school board to fill a vacancy. He was not re-elected in 2002. Danielson, a San Jose resident, is co-owner of Jody’s Junction, an office supply store in downtown Morgan Hill.

Danielson said he is the only member of the task force who has never missed a meeting. He regularly reports back to Morgan Hill officials.

“The mayor and City Council are committed to making it (planning for Coyote Valley) an inclusive process,” Vossbrink said.

Members of the community, as stakeholders, are encouraged to attend workshops and meetings and to provide opinions to the task force.

“It’s important to remember that this committee (the task force) doesn’t make decisions,” Vossbrink said. “It does provide advice to the mayor and council.”

These Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members were present at meetings on Oct. 15, Nov. 18 2003 and Jan. 20, 2004.

Rebecca Tolentino, City of Morgan Hill; Marc Lucca, Santa Clara Valley Water District; Bill Smith, SCVWD, Bobbie Fischler, League of Women Voters; Michael Bomberger, Silicon Valley Conservation Council; Mike Griffiths, County Roads and Airports; Eugene Maeda, Valley Transportation Agency; Bill Miller, San Jose Police Department and Craig Breon, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society; Dennis Martin, National Association of Industrial Office Parks; Jessica Fitchen and Shonnan Werner , Greenbelt Alliance; Ann Draper, County Planning; Pat Sausedo, National Association of Industrial Office Parks; Beverly Bryant, Home Builders Association and Teresa Alvarado, PG &E.

Tolentino was the only member present at all three meetings.

But before any houses, schools or parks can be built in the new city neighborhood, the triggers must be activated, according to San Jose City Council directives.

None of the three triggers is yet complete though the specific plan is under development. San Jose’s budget is under the same attack from the state’s fiscal crisis as every other governmental agency and jobs have not materialized. Cisco Systems could help if it could take a hold off its plans for a new campus, imposed when the economic downturn hit the company in a serious way.

The company’s original plans for a valley campus would have jump-started development but, because of the economy, are on hold.

As originally proposed, Cisco would have built a $1.3 billion, 688-acre campus in Coyote Valley along Bailey Avenue Cisco with 6.6 million square feet of office space for up to 20,000 employees.

Downsized because of the economy, Cisco’s portion of a Coyote Valley research park was later expected to occupy between 1 and 3 million square feet for 3,000 to 9,000 workers, according to Larry Carter, Cisco’s chief financial officer. When the economy continued to dive, Cisco put the project on hold where it continues.


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