Coyote Valley, California

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Coyote Valley
A view across the Coyote Valley from Santa Teresa County Park, April 1, 2006
Floor elevation260 feet (79 m) at Coyote, California[1]
Length7 miles Northwest to Southeast
Width2 miles
Population centersSan Jose, California
Coyote, California
Morgan Hill, California
Borders onMount Hamilton, Diablo Range (east)
Foothills of Santa Cruz Mountains (west)
San Jose (north)
Morgan Hill, California (south)
Traversed byU.S. Highway 101, Monterey Highway

Coyote Valley (see also Coyote, California) is a large expanse of farmland, orchards and homes, approximately 7,400 acres (2,995 ha) in size, located in a narrowing of the Santa Clara Valley, south of the urbanization of San Jose, California and north of Morgan Hill, California.[2] The Coyote Valley is targeted for urban development and until March 2008 was undergoing the State of California Specific Plan process in which master planning of the area began. The process was intended to analyze the feasibility of bringing new development to the area, with the participation of planners, environmentalists, engineers, and the general public. Although the North and the Mid-Coyote Valley areas have been planned for urban development since 1961, much controversy surrounds the proposal to build in this valley, which is considered by many to be the last remaining "untouched" open area within San Jose, an open space buffer between the urban City of San Jose and the northward expanding City of Morgan Hill. The Coyote Gap at the extreme north end of Coyote Valley is a critical wildlife corridor for safe passage of large and small mammals from the Diablo Range to the Santa Cruz Mountains because it is the narrowest point between the two mountain ranges.[3][4][5][2]


Coyote Valley is a floodplain approximately 11.2 kilometres (7.0 mi) and 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) wide, situated in a narrow constriction in Santa Clara Valley between the Diablo Range to the east and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. It contains the largest freshwater wetland in Santa Clara County, Laguna Seca, a mostly seasonal lake important to groundwater recharge.[6] Coyote Valley was named a “2001 Last Chance Landscape of America the Beautiful", one of the ten most endangered American landscapes by Scenic America.[7] The only landscape selected from California, Scenic America described Coyote Valley as: “Coyote Valley is a rare scenic break in an otherwise urbanized area... The rolling hills, blossoming orchards, and grand oaks provide respite to visitors, residents, and myriad species of wildlife."[8]

Part of San Jose, Coyote Valley also includes the tiny unincorporated community of Coyote, California.[1] It is bordered on the south by Morgan Hill, California.


The current width of the wildlife corridor through the Coyote Valley is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi).[9] This is considered the minimum width for a viable wildlife corridor for multiple species.[10]

De Anza College wildlife biologists and students have monitored wildlife in the Coyote Valley since December 2007. They have recorded 160 species of birds, 25 of which either are rare, have special status, or both. Because development and the multilane U.S. Highway 101 pose barriers to migration of mammals such as tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannoides), puma (Puma concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), bobcat (Lynx rufus), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), American badger (Taxidea taxus), etc. the Coyote Valley and its permeable multiple highway underpasses/culverts serve as the last remaining safe passages between the mountains to the west and east. De Anza students have used motion activated cameras to document that these passages are used by deer, bobcats, puma, coyote, and other large mammals.[5][11]

Tule elk were re-introduced to Mount Hamilton from 1978 to 1981. However, tule elk that live on the Mount Hamilton/Diablo side of the valley have been documented lining up near Highway 101, unable to cross.[5]

Coyote Valley’s vernal pools offer a safe haven to many amphibian species such as the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii).[8]

Coyote Valley is traversed by Coyote Creek, an important stream for steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) spawning runs.[12]

Development controversy[edit]

Currently, Coyote Valley is home to large areas of orchards and farms, although that scene has been expected to change for decades.[7] The Dahlin Group, based in San Ramon, California, was chosen by the City of San Jose to create a master plan for the area. Dahlin Group's Conceptual Plan called for at least 50,000 jobs and 25,000 homes, an international garden, a 54-acre (22 ha) central lake, a hub and spoke Bus Rapid Transit system, and a green belt between the new town and Morgan Hill.[13][14]

Citing costs and delays, developers stopped funding the planning process in March 2008.[14]

Environmental impacts of development[edit]

To determine the effects of development in the Coyote Valley, a Draft Environmental Impact Report, or DEIR was released in March 2007. San Jose is the only city in Santa Clara County that allows developers to hand pick the environmental consultants who write the environmental impact reports for proposed projects. They can hire the companies directly, and hand in the reports with their application. When the DEIR was unveiled to the public, an unprecedented amount of criticism was generated with more than 1,000 pages[15] of negative comments. These objections came from 55 organizations and individuals, and 28 public agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The city decided to commission the remake of much of the Draft EIR. The revision work and other planning costs was estimated at 2.5 million dollars and to take over a year to complete. This controversy led to many residents of San Jose to call for an end to San Jose’s developer-controlled environmental impact reports.

City of San Jose Documents


Fiscal analysis[edit]

The Draft Fiscal Analysis for Coyote Valley development[16] concludes that San Jose will make more money in tax revenues from development than it will spend on providing government services. It reaches this conclusion by assuming that residential property values and resulting taxes will increase 3% above inflation every year for 57 years.

The Committee for Green Foothills disputes this analysis, arguing that because household income has only increased 1% above inflation annually in San Jose, it is impossible for the cost of housing to continuously increase faster than the means to pay for housing costs.[17] The Committee also argues the Draft Analysis overestimates income by failing to account for tax revenues "cannibalized" by businesses moving from other parts of San Jose to Coyote Valley.

Developers end specific plan[edit]

On March 18, 2008, the developer/landowners in Coyote Valley announced they would no longer fund the Specific Plan process, which terminates that planning process. Developers cited the costs and delays in planning, while news reports noted increased political opposition.[18] Environmental groups claimed they found grossly inadequate environmental and fiscal analyses and claimed those flaws were factors that contributed to end the current proposal.[19]

Other proposed developments remain possible in Coyote Valley, including the previously approved, but never built, Coyote Valley Research Park, and the proposed expansion of the Gavilan College campus. In 2017, Phase 1 of the Coyote Valley Center was completed, becoming Gavilan's newest instructional site and the home for South Bay Public Safety Training Consortium police and fire academies.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Coyote, California". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ a b Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and Conservation Biology Institute (June 2017). Coyote Valley Landscape Linkage: A Vision for a Resilient, Multi-benefit Landscape (PDF) (Report). San José, California: Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority. p. 61. Retrieved June 25, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Julie Phillips; Ryan Phillips; Neela Srinivasan; Deborah Aso; Wendy Lao; Pat Cornely (2012). Safe Passage for Coyote Valley: A Wildlife Linkage for the 101 Corridor (PDF) (Report). Cupertino, California: De Anza College. Retrieved 2013-09-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Coyote Valley Boondoggle". San Jose Inside. Retrieved 9 October 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c Laura Hautala (2009-01-01). "Coyote Valley Crossings". Bay Nature. Retrieved 2012-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "La Laguna Seca". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  7. ^ a b Michael McCabe (2001-11-15). "Coyote Valley called endangered landscape - Group says San Jose area threatened by sprawl". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b Julie Phillips, Ryan Phillips, Neela Srinivasan, Deborah Aso, Wendy Lao, and Pat Cornely. Safe Passage: A Wildlife Linkage for the Highway 101 Corridor (PDF) (Report). De Anza College. p. 68. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. ^ Phillips, R., T. Diamond, J. Phillips, P. Cornely, V. Jennings, and L. Morton (2008). Coyote Valley Wildlife Corridor Monitoring Program 2008 Annual Report (PDF) (Report). Cupertino, California: De Anza College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ Penrod, K., C. Cabañero, P. Beier, C. Luke, W. Spencer, and E. Rubin (2006). South Coast Missing Linkages Project: A Linkage Design for the Sierra Madre-Castaic Connection (PDF) (Report). Idyllwild, California: South Coast Wildlands. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ Jane Kay (2009-07-16). "Coyote Valley vital as wildlife corridor". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Leidy, R.A.; G.S. Becker; B.N. Harvey (2005). "Historical distribution and current status of steelhead/rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in streams of the San Francisco Estuary, California" (PDF). Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, Oakland, CA. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Dahlin Group (December 2006). "Coyote Valley Specific Plan". City of San Jose. Archived from the original on 2013-11-25. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ a b Melissa Hippard (May–June 2008). "Future Brightens for Wildlife of Coyote Valley". The Loma Prietan. Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Coyote Valley Specific Plan Task Force Meeting Information Page Archived 2008-01-05 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (April 2006). Coyote Valley Specific Plan Fiscal Impact Analysis (PDF) (Report). City of San Jose. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-12. Retrieved 2013-01-19. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ CGF journal: Master Comment letter on Coyote Valley Fiscal Analysis Archived 2006-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Developers drop plan for San Jose's Coyote Valley - San Jose Mercury News
  19. ^ "Committee for Green Foothills Welcomes Withdrawal of Coyote Valley Development Proposal, Calls for New Steps to Protect Against Sprawl" (PDF). Committee for Green Foothills. March 18, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ CGF journal: Status of Coyote Valley Archived 2008-07-25 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°11′N 121°42′W / 37.18°N 121.70°W / 37.18; -121.70