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Last modified: 3/28/2012 2:22 PM

The Santa Clara County Planning Office work plan contains an item relating to view shed protection and the visual and environmental impacts of hillside development. Specifically, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to undertake the following work effort:

View sheds and Greenbelt Areas: Review appropriate means of furthering County policies to protect view sheds, hillsides, ridgelines, and greenbelts from impacts of development.  Includes (a) priority-setting studies, (b) measures focused specifically on ridgeline and hillsides protection, and (c) possible greenbelt studies with Morgan Hill and others [cities] concerning land use preservation methods.”

Description:  Scenic resource protection and related goals and policies of the current General Plan define this general subject to be a significant component of maintaining the quality of life of the County, both for natural resource conservation and view shed protection.  Additional studies are necessary before priorities and recommendations can be made concerning the need for additional policy and/or regulations and the extent of their applicability.  Morgan Hill has requested assistance with a “greenbelt study” for lands surrounding that city.  Staff recommends that the Morgan Hill greenbelt study be the priority for further interjurisdictional efforts.  Additional preliminary studies should be conducted focusing on GIS mapping and data analysis for identifying other priorities and areas of focus. (Note: Coyote Greenbelt implementation is already an ongoing part of the Planning Office work plan and therefore is not repeated here. See work plan item 9-04.)”

Santa Clara County Viewshed

Planning Office staff began work with City of Morgan Hill regarding that city’s Urban Limit Line/Greenbelt Study, which is under review by the City Council.  Based on the mapping analysis conducted for the Morgan Hill area hillsides, County staff prepared a countywide view shed mapping analysis.

In February of 2005, the Board of Supervisors requested staff present its report to the Board on April 19, 2005.  Per the Board’s direction, the report contains information regarding other jurisdiction’s approaches to viewshed protection, a review of existing County regulatory processes and tools, and preliminary recommendations for developing additional protection measures.  Staff’s report is provided in the following links:

• April 19, 2005 Board transmittal
• Viewshed Analysis and Report, April 5, 2005
• Viewshed Model Ordinances Survey
• Open Space Action Program of County General Plan
• Santa Clara County Viewshed Mapping Analysis
• February 15, 2005 Board Referral
• Morgan Hill Urban Limit Line/Greenbelt Study Report Recommendations

At it’s April 19, 2005 meeting, the Board of Supervisors accepted the report following a staff presentation and directed the subject be further considered at a land use planning workshop, among other topics for further discussion.

At the Board’s August 31, 2005 Land Use Planning Workshop, staff summarized the preliminary recommendations of the April 5, 2005 Report and provided additional information in the form of a Report Addendum.  The Board received public testimony, and following discussion, gave direction for staff to continue with the work effort necessary to develop policies, ordinances, guidelines, standards and procedures based on the preliminary recommendations for future consideration by the Board.  Staff proposed and the Board further directed that quarterly status reports be provided on the Planning Office’s progress in completing this and other work plan items.

The Board also directed that a schedule for the completion of the work plan item on View shed Protection be presented no later than October 18, 2005.  The Board accepted the View shed work plan schedule at its October 18, 2005 meeting.

At present, staff is preparing a variety of work products for discussion and outreach pursuant to the approved schedule.