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San Jose City Council unanimously decides not to change General Plan to accommodate proposed power plant
November 29, 2000

Reported and written by Elizabeth Cord
President, Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group

Early Wednesday morning, November 29, 2000, the San Jose City Council, led by a motion proposed by Councilmember Charlotte Powers, voted unanimously (11-0) to reject the land use change requested by Calpine/Bechtel to allow siting of a 600-megawatt power plant in Coyote Valley.

Mayor Ron Gonzales also proposed a Silicon Valley Energy Summit to be held to address energy needs, conservation, and regional solutions.

The meeting was attended by approximately 400 neighbors and concerned individuals who opposed the power plant, as well as about 100 supporters.

"The power plant would create a land use conflict and a hostile environment for the 28,000 new homes expected in Coyote Valley" said Councilmember Powers.

Mayor Gonzales stated the issue was "basically a land use decision" and suggested that there would be a "firestorm" if the CEC tried to overturn our City's land use decision, and that many other cities and counties would join us in opposing any threat to local determination.

"This is democracy at its finest" said Councilmember Pat Dando, adding that the "community was to be commended" for their participation. She also stressed the role of conservation in the Mayor's proposed Energy Summit.

Councilmember Chuck Reed stated that he wasn't convinced that "air quality impacts to local neighborhoods" could be mitigated by purchase of credits.

Councilmember Manny Diaz felt that the power plant would be a compatible land use for Coyote Valley, that experts have said that air quality impacts would be mitigated, that high technology businesses consume much power and we should provide our fair share of power generation. But he stated concern that local land use control should not be lost and voted to deny the power plant proposal.

Councilmember Linda LeZotte expressed concern over environmental issues and felt that current and future residents and employees in Coyote Valley and students at Encinal School would be most impacted. She noted that the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group had not endorsed the power plant, which she felt meant that it wasn't as essential to local businesses as some had stated. She voted to deny and asked Mayor Gonzales to send a "very clear" message to the CEC that the proposed heavy industrial use did not fit in Coyote Valley.

Councilmember Alice Woody stated she had originally been opposed, then had been in favor, but finally decided the land use change was inappropriate.

Councilmember Cindy Chavez felt that the power plant would be a compatible land use in Coyote Valley and that the proposed location was ideal because of proximity to gas lines, substation, and transmission lines, but voted against the proposal because of her belief that local land use issues should be determined locally, not by CEC.

Councilmember George Shirakawa stated that the data was sometimes conflicting and confusing, but that he relied on common sense in reaching his decision, and that he respected the opinions of Councilmember Powers and Councilmember-Elect Williams, who represent the affected district and both opposed the power plant.

In addition to neighbors, Cisco officials spoke in opposition to the power plant, also Mayor Kennedy and Mayor Pro-Tem Tate of Morgan Hill, members of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara County Green Party, and Californians for Renewable Energy (CARE).

All in all an overwhelming evening. Many, many thanks to the hundreds who supported their community by attending this important meeting, and to many more who could not attend but sent emails to elected officials.

If it had been a "done deal" I would not have called on you to sacrifice your time and energy. In fact, community input was crucial to this decision; truly YOU made it happen.

Thanks to the many neighbors who have contributed their time, talents, energy, and finances to support this tremendous effort.

What a great community we live in! Support from around the city and from surrounding communities has been much appreciated. Everyone has played a part, and all parts have been important in this fine cooperative effort.

South San Jose rules!

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