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Martial Cottle Park Life Estate Plan

Published on: 7/9/2021 3:17 PM
Thursday, July 15, 2021, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The County of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a virtual public meeting for the Martial Cottle Life Estate Draft Preferred Alternative Plan. This meeting will take place on Thursday, July 15, 2021, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.  We invite you to attend this meeting to learn more about the project and next steps. 
Members of the public may provide public comment by emailing comments to Kimberly Brosseau, Project Manager, at, by 5:00 p.m. the day of the meeting. 
More information on this meeting including the Zoom meeting details can be found in the Public Notice

Project Planner: Kimberly Brosseau, AICP
Contact:; 408-355-2330


The Santa County Parks and Recreation Department (Department) is in the process of preparing a Site Plan for the Life Estate at Martial Cottle Park. The Life Estate portion is part of the larger Martial Cottle Park, which is a 287.54-acre property located in a residential and commercial neighborhood of South San Jose, bounded by Branham Lane, Snell Avenue and Chynoweth Avenue. The Life Estate portion of the Park is approximately 31 acres and includes a residence, a number of outbuildings, and approximately 25 acres of actively farmed land. Martial Cottle Park is jointly owned by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and County of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department. 


Considered to be one of the few remnants of the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" in Santa Clara Valley, the Park has been continuously farmed by the Cottle and Lester families for nearly 150 years, from 1864 to the present. Consistent with the Donor's Vision, the park is a public historic agricultural park, educational facility and working farm that promotes and sustains farming traditions for the residents and visitors of Santa Clara County.

Why is the County Preparing the Site Plan?
When the property was donated in 2004, Mr. Walter Cottle Lester reserved approximately 31 acres as a Life Estate for himself and resided on the property until he passed away in 2014. At that time the Life Estate reverted to the County and the Department would plan for the future reuse of the site.
The Site Plan will be a guiding document that will identify a program of reuse for the Life Estate, including the main residence and other outbuildings. The Site Plan will consider the long-term feasibility of the proposed uses, market viability, interpretive programming, and future partnership opportunities. The Site Plan will evaluate how each component will enhance visitor services and revenue-generating opportunities in the Park and how each use will be incorporated into the Park in a unified manner.

Martial Cottle Park is located at 5283 Snell Avenue, in South San Jose and is bounded by Branham Lane, Snell Avenue, and Chynoweth Avenue. The Life Estate portion of the Park is approximately 31 acres and includes a residence, a number of outbuildings, and approximately 25 acres of actively farmed land.

Current Progress

The Department is currently working on the Draft Preferred Alternative Plan for the Life Estate. A public meeting will be held on July 15th to gather public input on this Plan. The Draft Preferred Alternative Plan is a refinement of the two Conceptual Plan Alternatives that were created from input by the public, Stakeholders and Park Staff. 

Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
The Department will be reviewing the project for compliance with CEQA. The Draft document is anticipated to be made available to the public for review and comment in Fall 2021.
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