Almaden Girl Scouts fight City Hall

Per the ABVnews edition dated 3-31-2014 , produced by Robert Braunstein: 

Three Girl Scouts from Almaden are taking on City Hall over a proposed housing development on a hill. The proposed 10 homes are part of a new planned community on the hill at Coleman and Almaden Expressway. The entrance to the tract is on 5827 Brasilia Way, near where the three girls live. The hill is famous to Almaden residents who drive by everyday. It once had sheep grazing along the hillside in view of drivers along Almaden Expressway.

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The 12 and 13 year old girls are working to save this pristine area as part of their Silver Award. The girls have started a petition drive and after one week have 140 signatures from people who also want the hill preserved. The goal is one thousand signatures.

The details of the plan get complicated. The builder JSM Enterprises now owns the land. In the past one home has been on the land, for more homes to be built the city would have to rezone the property for multiple dwellings. This current plan calls for ten homes. You can see details of the project here

The Girl Scouts are not happy with the project for many reasons. According to Lia, “I would love this land to stay the same because it is one of the few spots of wilderness still preserved in our city today”.

Hallie says, “I love how there are so many beautiful native oak trees and animals. There was already a tree branch chopped down, and a hawk that lived in it now just sits on a telephone pole. It makes me really sad to see that”.

This is the first foray into city government for the girls. “I have never been involved in city government before.” said Hallie. “I think that this is a really good experience because I’m learning how to fight for what I want, and defend others for what they prefer.”

“If the zoning changed it would deprive the neighbors of their peace and destroy all the natural beauty of this hill.” Said Lia. “Plus it would corrupt the neighborhood lifestyle but also the animals inhabited on the hill.”

There have been two community hearings on the project so far. The deadline for complaints to the city is today. After that the proposal will go to the planning commission, and then to City Council for a vote on changing the zoning for the lot to allow ten homes.

Residents say they would be fine with one home on the land as it is zoned now. But according to Hallie, having ten homes would “wipe out all of the trees and animal habitats.”

The Girl Scouts learned about San Jose’s tree shortage while earning their Trees Legacy Badge. They say the big problem is large, mature trees are being replaced with smaller trees that don’t come close to providing the same benefits.

The girls say they started the petition drive to let more people know about the housing project. They also want the City Council to know how they feel.
If you would like to sign the petition click here.

For an additional story published in the San Jose Mercury News click here.

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