County Supervisor Joe Simitian on Lehigh Cement Plant's Announcement to Stop Cement Production
“I’m pleased that the announcement from Lehigh today is consistent with the three goals I have expressed for the 3,510 acre quarry and cement plant, namely to:
- Close the Lehigh cement plant;
- Stop mining the quarry; and,
- Begin the restoration and reclamation of the property.
Lehigh’s announcement that it will shut down the cement plant is an encouraging step in the right direction. After 83 years of operations, the environs surrounding the cement plant have changed considerably and it simply no longer works to have a large industrial use like a quarry and cement plant in proximity to the suburban communities of Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto.
While I am gratified by Lehigh’s announcement, there is clearly more to do. As a member of the County Board of Supervisors, which has land use regulatory authority over the site, I also want to explore the steps we can take, hopefully in collaboration with the property owner, to ensure the cement plant closure is permanent.
The fact that the cement plant has not operated since April of 2020 makes me confident that our Valley can continue to thrive even as we shift to substituting cement imports for local production.
This is an opportunity to adapt and envision a new future for the site. A future that I hope will build on the three pronged-vision with which I began: cement plant closure; a cessation of quarry activities; and restoration of the site.
I look forward to continuing this important conversation with representatives from Lehigh and the community. Ultimately, I am confident we can find an outcome that address these three goals, meets the needs of the property owner, and gives the workers and community the surety they need.
Today’s announcement is a start. It is also important to note that Lehigh’s announcement it ‘will be submitting a new reclamation plan amendment application’ signals the abandonment by Lehigh of an earlier proposal to expand mining. Abandonment of that application is good news for the community.
I’m also pleased that Lehigh pledges its new plan for the site is one that will be ‘prioritizing safety and compliance.’ Given the recent determination by our County Counsel’s office that more than 2,135 violations were recorded at the property over the past decade, the promise of a plan prioritizing safety and compliance is obviously welcome.
I look forward to learning more about Lehigh’s plan for the future at our Board’s Housing, Land Use, Environment, and Transportation committee scheduled for Thursday, November 17 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.”