Environment, Land Use & Sustainability

We want progress on the environment—on every possible front. Development that is wise and well managed—complemented by parks and open spaces that provide opportunities for contemplation, recreation, and inspiration. And energy sources that look to the future—clean and green and renewable—mindful of the obligation each and all of us have to address the issue of climate change here on our own little piece of the planet.

— Supervisor Simitian, Board President's 2018 State of the County Address 

  • Stanford University General Use Permit & Community Plan Update – In January 2020, Supervisor Simitian, along with his colleague Supervisor Cindy Chavez, asked staff to update the Stanford Community Plan, a part of the County’s General Plan and essentially a “mini” general plan for the Stanford University lands located in the unincorporated County. The original Community Plan dates to 2000 and needed an update when the University withdrew its application for a General Use Permit in late 2019. While processing of the Use Permit ceased, the County, at the request of Supervisors Simitian and Chavez, continued to move forward with updating the Stanford Community Plan. Upon approval by the Board of Supervisors, the updated Plan will replace the existing one and provide a basis for evaluating future development requests by the University. Learn more 
  • Grassroots Ecology – Grassroots Ecology is a local environmental nonprofit dedicated to caring for public lands and waters across Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Supervisor Simitian recommended County support for a Grassroots program that, in partnership with the San Jose Conservation Corps, educates and trains young people interested in pursuing a career in sustainable land management. Learn more
  • Canopy – A long-time admirer of Canopy’s work to grow the urban forest, Supervisor Simitian championed County support for the expansion of Canopy’s education and advocacy programs in the North County communities he represents, including Community Forestry School, Canopy’s marquee program under the umbrella of its adult education classes. Learn more
  • Addressing Climate Change and Emergency Preparedness as a Community – Built on the Cool Block model, Cool Block Mountain View is a three-year pilot program proposed by Supervisor Simitian to bring neighbors who live on the same city block together to build community, tackle climate change, and address disaster preparedness on their own block. Learn more
  • Alpine Trail: Closing the Gap – To mitigate the impacts of development authorized by the Stanford University 2000 General Use Permit, the Board of Supervisors, at Supervisor Simitian’s urging, approved funding for the Alpine Road Regional Trail Improvement Project. This 2.3-mile regional trail for hikers, cyclists and equestrians will close the gap between Page Mill Road and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District preserves. Learn more
  • Creating Park Connections – With Supervisor Simitian’s support, the Board approved the purchase of 47 acres of land between Santa Teresa and Calero Parks in south San Jose, a community that was added to District Five after redistricting took place in 2022. Connecting the parks will make it easier for hikers and cyclists to travel between the two parks, which are several miles apart. Learn more
  • Protecting the Ridgeline – Supervisor Simitian, with Board colleague Supervisor Otto Lee, championed a Memorandum of Agreement between the County and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen), to share enforcement of the ridgeline preservation easement that protects the land adjacent to Rancho San Antonio County Park and Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, effectively reinforcing the protection of local hillsides and habitat for years to come. Learn more
  • Oversight of Stevens Creek Quarry – In 2020, Harvey Rose Associates, at the request of Supervisor Simitian, conducted an independent review that identified several deficiencies in the County Department of Planning and Development’s oversight of Stevens Creek Quarry. This effort, spurred by Supervisor Simitian’s advocacy for more rigorous oversight of the Quarry, resulted in the improved monitoring and enforcement of use-permit conditions at the Quarry. Learn more
  • Livestock Pass Program – To give local communities the tools they need to keep their livestock and livelihoods safe, especially amid the constant threat of wildfires, Santa Clara County, with the support of Supervisor Simitian, implemented a “Livestock Pass” program to give ranchers, livestock producers and managers, and first responders limited access to restricted areas to care for, or evacuate, livestock during natural disasters. Learn more
  • Adopting Renewable Diesel Fuel – Thanks to a Los Altos Hills resident who brought the idea to Supervisor Simitian’s attention, in 2022, the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District switched its fleet from operating on traditional (i.e., petroleum-based) diesel to using renewable diesel. The latter is made of renewable and sustainable resources from a variety of organic material – including soybean oil and used cooking oil. Learn more
  • Reid-Hillview Airport – In 2021, Supervisor Simitian joined his Board colleagues in unanimously voting to eliminate lead exposure from operations at Reid-Hillview Airport, and to explore prohibiting the sale or use of leaded fuel. Learn more
  • Free Climate Education Program for Middle School Students – Championed by Supervisor Simitian, the Board approved a grant enabling Acterra to expand its “You(th) Be the Change” program that teaches students about the effects of climate change and potential solutions. Learn more
  • Improving Lehigh Oversight – Since returning to the Board of Supervisors in 2013, Supervisor Simitian has pushed for increased oversight at Lehigh Cement Plant and Quarry, holding Lehigh accountable to environmental regulations and aiding the public’s understanding of and access to the state, federal, and local agencies that have jurisdiction over the site. In 2022, at Supervisor Simitian’s request, County staff compiled and issued a 10-year review of local, state, and federally recorded violations taking place at the site and found there were 2,135 violations and millions in fines. The Board directed staff to further review the record and report back to the Board by the end of the 2022. Learn more
  • Environmental Volunteers – A local non-profit that uses hands-on, standards-based science education to promote an understanding of and responsibility for the environment. Among their many programs, they train volunteers to teach natural sciences in eleven subject areas in Santa Clara and San Mateo County schools. Supervisor Simitian recommended County support for Environmental Volunteers to support their in-class science and field study programming for elementary school students. Learn more

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