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Letter Appealing Approval of Final EIR on Cisco Project


October 9, 2000

San Jose City Planning Commission
|c/o Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement
City of San Jose
801 North First Street #400
San Jose, CA 95110 [Sent By FAX: 408-277-3250]

RE: Appeal of Decision on EIR for Proposed Coyote Valley Research Park

To Whom It May Concern:

On October 5, 2000, the Planning Commission of the City of San Jose certified as "adequate" the Final Environmental Impact Report on the Proposed Coyote Valley Research Park. The Commission Chairperson announced that parties who disagreed with the Commission's decision might appeal to the San Jose City Council, and should file any such appeal on or before Wednesday October 11, 2000.

This letter is to appeal the Planning Commission's decision to certify the Final EIR on the proposed Coyote Valley Research Park. LandWatch Monterey County does not think that the Final Environmental Impact Report complies with state law.

First, the Final EIR does not adequately describe or analyze the project. The project, in fact, is more than the proposed Cisco campus. As the City's own analysis shows (and as the provisions for infrastructure demonstrate) the real project coming before you is the full development of the Coyote Valley for the purposes specified in the General Plan. The materials that you have received make clear that if you permit the Cisco proposal to proceed, the rest of the development contemplated in the General Plan will not only inevitably but promptly follow. The City of San Jose has not done an environmental analysis that truly reviews the total impacts that can be expected if you make a decision to allow the Cisco project to proceed. Such an analysis is absolutely required, not only to comply with state law, but also to put the city in a position truly to understand the implications of the decisions you are contemplating. CEQA does not allow a lead agency to "piecemeal" a project analysis. It must analyze the entirety of the impacts that are to be expected from a decision they propose to make. We urge the Council to require the EIR to meet this test.

Second, even if the project were only the Cisco campus (obviously a large project in its own right), the final EIR has not adequately responded to the substantive comments submitted on the draft. CEQA absolutely requires a lead agency to provide substantive replies to the substantive comments it receives. The courts have consistently said that a lead agency cannot "brush off" the real concerns raised by those who comment on a draft EIR. That is what is happening here--unless the Council exercises its authority to demand that adequate environmental review actually occur.

As one example, LandWatch and others have extensively commented on the absolutely false assumptions about housing impacts that are contained in the draft EIR. No adequate response was been forthcoming in the Final EIR. The housing impacts that we and other commenters have identified consist of actual, physical impacts to the environment. If Cisco is permitted to create 20,000 new jobs in its proposed new campus, and is permitted to "export" the housing demand created by that action, then real impacts on the physical environment, including traffic congestion, air pollution, and loss of farmland will occur in other jurisdictions, including on areas within Monterey County, and in cities located in that county.

CEQA requires that feasible mitigation measures be adopted, when significant adverse impacts are identified. The Final EIR (as erroneously certified by the Commission) indicates that no adverse impacts are to be expected from the "export" of the housing demand created by the proposed project; thus, the Final EIR never discusses, as it ought to, feasible mitigations. Attached to our letter to the Planning Commission, and thus in your record, are several pages from a recent book by the Urban Land Institute, Density by Design, illustrating a housing development in Dallas, Texas. That development, Addison Circle, is extremely attractive and functional, and would fit well as part of the Cisco campus. It is built at a net density of 38 units per acre, which means that 3500 units could be provided on 93 acres. It would be feasible for the Cisco project to include this many units, and would significantly mitigate the impacts that the inadequate FEIR says doesn't exist. We hope you will require an analysis of significant on site housing in the EIR ultimately certified, to comply with the requirements of CEQA.

Finally, to the extent that significant new information is contained in a final EIR, the EIR must be recirculated for additional comment. Various public agencies that have tired to work in good faith with the City of San Jose, and to alert the City to the environmental and other impacts that will be caused by approval of the Cisco project, have already let you know that the City's failure to recirculate the latest environmental document--or even to allow adequate time to review and respond to it--is a violation of CEQA. LandWatch agrees with the comments made by AMBAG and the City of Salinas that the Final EIR is inadequate. We urge the City Council not to certify it in its current form.

Thank you for taking our comments and this appeal seriously. We urge you to reverse the Commission's decision to certify the Final EIR, and to require that an adequate EIR be prepared, as required by state law.

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LandWatch's mission is to protect Monterey County's future by addressing climate change, community health, and social inequities in housing and infrastructure. By encouraging greater public participation in planning, we connect people to government, address human needs and inspire conservation of natural resources.



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