Land Use Workshop Viewshed Items

BOS Aoenda Date: August 31, 2005
Agenda Item No.4


i x:._:·~fiJ.'f;),_°-:', System Generated Transmittal

~:, ---------------------------------------

Board Date:

Augu st 31, 2005

Transmittal ID :
Agenda Item Details

4. U nder advisement from Apri l 19, 2005 (I tem No. 64): Consider i ssues relating to the Santa
Clara County Yiewshed.
a. f\cccpt Addendum to the Yiewshed Report accepted by the Board on April 19 , 2005.
b. Discuss and conrirrn ex isti ng hi gh prio rity sta tu s
i tem OR assign alternat i ve prio r ity .

or "Vicwshed Protec tio n" work plan

Boar,j oi Supervisors: Donald F. Gai;_ie, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, .Jim Beall, Liz Kniss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.

BOS Aoendd Date: Al.f~jUSI ]1 .. '!)W.1

Aqencia ttr~n: r-h ..i

c. Direct P]anning Office staff to develop draft policies, ordinances, guidelines. and
procedures to implement preliminary recommendations outlined in the Viewshed
Report including proposed additions/modifications agreed by the Board.
d. Direct staff to conduct appropriate public and community outreach and report had to
the Board of Supervisors with recommended policy and implemrntation plan by
Summer 2006 and provide quarterly off-agenda reports on progress/project status.

e. Direct staff to report back to the Board within 90 days ic.Jentifyin_µ a proposed work plan
and schedule for accomplishing uctivities directed. if matter is <.:onfinned as a high

Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete Mc Hugh, Jim Beall, Liz Kniss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.

BOS Agencla Date :Augus t 3·1, 2005

~ounty of Santa Clara
Department of Planning and Development

Planning Office


- - .'· o



Pl ,NOI 083105
Prepared by: Bill Shoe
Principal Planner
Reviewed by: Michael Lopez
Interim Planning Di rector

August 3 1, 2005



or Supe rvisors

Jody Ha ll Esser
Interim Director or Planning and Development

Under adv isement from Apri l 19, 2005 (Item No. 64): Consider issues re lating to
the Santa Clara County Yiewshed.


,1. /\ccept Addendum to the Yi ewshed Report accepted by the Board on April I 9, 2005
I Addendu m responds to requests or Board fo r supplemental information].

h. Discuss and confirm ex isting high priority status of "Viewshed Protection" work plan item
or assign alternati ve priority;
c. Direc t Pl ann ing Office staff to develop draft policies, o(dinances, guidelines, and
procedures to implement preliminary recommendations outlined in the Yiewshed Report rpp.

Board oi Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh , Jim Beall, Liz Kniss
Count:i Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.

4-9 of April 19, 2005 transmittal], including proposed additions/modifications agreed to by
the Board.
d. Direct staff to conduct appropriate public and community outreach and report back to the
Board of Supervisors with recommended policy and implementation plan by Summer 2006
and provide quarterly off-agenda reports on progress/project status.
c. Direct staff to report back to the Board within 90 days identifying a proposed work plan and
schedule for accomplishing activities directed, if matter is confirmed as a high priority.

There are no fiscal implications of accepting the Addendum to the Yicwshcd Report. Planning
Office staff wi11 conduct the analyses, policy and ordinance development, public outreach and
reporting necessary to carry out this work plan item. However, if additional staff time must be
diverted from cost-recovery work, there may be an impact to the General Fund.

Not applicable.

I. At its April 19, 2005 meeting, the Board of Supervisors recejved a presentation and report
entitled "Santa Clara County Viewshed Analysis and Report" containing background
infom1ation and preliminary recommendations for furthering viewshed protection.
2. The Board accepted the report and deferred taking action regarding staff direction to its
August Land Use workshop. During deliberations, the Board requested additional information
regarding property rights issues, use of design review and the costs of such processes, and
coordination with open space acquisition agencies.
3. The Viewshed Report Addendum dated August 31, 2005, provides information in response
to these requests.The Addendum supplements the information and recommendations of the
April 19, 2005 Viewshed Report, but does not alter the preliminary recommendations of that

Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, ,Jim Beall, Liz Kniss
Counfy Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.


808 Agenda Date :.A.u~wst 31, 2005

L The Addendum is mostly informational and advisory. However, through staff's internal
discussions and meeting with open space agency directors, staff offers certain additonal minor
recommendations regarding the use of design review and floor area defintions, the need to
ensure better long term funding for acquisition of open space, the need to update the County
Parks Master Plan, among the conclusions of the Addendum report.

The Vicwshed Report Addendum responds to informational requests and direction of the
Board of Supervisors at its April 19, 2005 meeting. To develop this report, staff met with the
directors of the County Parks and Recreation Department, Lisa Killough, Santa Clara County
Open Space Authority, Patrick Congdon, and Midpeninsu]a Regional Open Space District,
Craig Britton. Staff's discussion with these representatives is summarized in the section "Open
Space Acquisition and Coordination Among Agencies."
In formation regarding the use of design review, costs to applicants, property rights issues, and
economic and procedural incentives is based on Planning Office staff experience in
onsultation with County Counsel.
The Addendum supplements the April I 9, 2005 "Viewshed Analysis and Report" with
information and minor recommendations, but it does not alter in any way the main body of
preliminary recommendations contained in the April 19, 2005 report. A copy of the full April
19, 2005 V icwshcd Report is provided for discussion at the workshop.

If the Board of Supervisors does not accept the Viewshed Report Addendum, there are no
consequences to failing to accept an informational report. The main Viewshed Analysis and
Report of April 19, 2005 was accepted at that previous Board meeting.


Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, Jim Beall. Liz Kniss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.


Clerk of the Board will inform the Plannim! Office of the Board's actions for P]annin2 Office

• Yiewshed Report Addendum, August 31, 2005
• Map of OSA and MROSD Jurisdictional Boundaries

Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, Jim Beall, Liz Kniss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.


Santa Clara County

Viewshed Analysis
and Report
August 31, 2005

Addendum to the Report to the
Board of Supervisors on the
"Viewshed/ Greenbelt Areas"
Work Plan Item #10-19,
Board Meeting of April 19, 2005

Vil'wslwd Report Addendum, August 31, 2005


Santa Clara County Viewshed Analysis and Report: Addendum
August 31, 2005

This report serves as an addendum to the Apri] ?, 2005 "Vicwshed Analysis and
Report" reviewed by the Board of Supervisors at its April 19, 2005 meeting.
At that meeting, the Planning Office made a presentation on the "Viewshed Report"
and its preliminary recommendations. The Board accepted the report and referred the
matter for further consideration to a p]anning now scheduled for August 31,
2005. Furthermore, the Board made several requests for additional information on
severa1 topics during its discussion-of the item on April 19.
More specifically, the Board referred the following items or topics to staff for further
inform a ti on:

Review of private property rights and economic incentives;

Discussion and focus on design review, and its cost implications;

Partnership with the Open Space Authority; and

A strategy for a five-year plan for preserving open space, including strategies for
partnerships with the Open Space Authority and County Parks and Recreation
While several of the comments and information requests made by the Board are related
or overlapping, this report addendum is organized according to two main topics or
categories: (1) the use of design review as a generic process, and related topics of
private property rights, cost implications, and use of economic and procedural
incentives for viewshed protection goals; and, (2) the concepts of open space acquisition
agencies' partnership or coordination with each other, and strategic plarn,ing for open
space preservation.
1. Design Review Issues Discussion

Design Review is a discretionary procedure intended to promote desired planning and
aesthetic values by ensuring that development follows quality building and site design
principles. Many local government agencies, including several cities within Santa Clara
County and the County itself, have concluded th~t good design needs to be actively
encouraged, and thus have adopted design review ordinances. In older, established
communities (such as Los Gatos), the interest might be in ensuring that new buildings
are compatible or complementary with existing buildings, and in maintaining or
enhancing architectural integrity with building addition and remodel projects. In
certain other cities, the emphasis might be on avoiding monotony in new trnct
Among jurisdictions where design review is utilized, a public hearing process is often,
but not always, a component of the process. The hearing may be before an advisory
body or commission, or at the staff level. In Santa Clara County, monthly Zoning
Administration, including Design Review hearings, are conducted by the Deputy
Zoning Administrator. The Zoning Ordinance defines certain minor construction
Viewshed Report Addendum, /\ugui-t 31, 2005


projects as being exempt from design review, such as swimming pools, certain fences,
decks and small retaining walls. Other minor projects may be exempted depending on
location, design, or other factors.
Santa Clara County's Design Review process was first established in the 1970s to review
development along designated local scenic roads, and to implement the provisions of
the Los Gatos Hil1side Specific Plan for County projects within designated hillside areas
of that Specific Plan. Design Review Zoning Districts ("-d" districts) have been
expanded to apply to other viewshed areas including: (a) portions of the Santa Teresa
Ridge of South San Jose; (b) the West Valley hillsides adjacent to Cupertino, Saratoga,
Monte Sereno and Los Gatos (" -d1" district); and (c) a portion of the hillsides of the City
of Milpitas(" -d2" district). The focus of design review, ,,vhen it applies to viewshed
,1reas, is minimizing visibility of structures, and designing to accommodate and
compliment the natural setting. The Design Review process and adopted Guidelines
gcnera1Iy do not dictate architectural style, but they have served to modify designs
where excessive bulkiness and massive monotonous wall planes ,-vere deemed
problematic and inconsistent with the Design Review Guidelines.
With regard to subdivision approvals in viewshed areas, the County has been
increasingly requiring Design Review zoning as a condition of subdivision approval to
implement environmental mitigations and visual impacts. Other uses of Design Review
have been expanded -to address the development of two-story homes on certain
underlying lots in the Country Club urban pocket of Los Altos, certain fences and fence
heights in exceptional situations, and review of projects within Historic Preservation
zoning districts.
As a form of discretionary permit approval, the Design Review process can impose

various additional costs, design modifications and compromises. It can also cause a
degree of uncertainty for property owners who are designing a new house or
remodeling an existing house. These costs to the individual are borne in the interest of
ri gn.~ater community benefit, as is the case with all planning and zoning regulations.
Processes such as Design Review or Architecture and Site Approval (ASA) are
necessarily discretionary and rely upon professional judgment, knowledge, and
experience in applying ad9pted standards and guidelines to project-specific
circumstances. Implementation also involves the varying values· and expectations of
neighbors and other participants in the process. As such, design review is often
perceived by some property owners as being too subjective and as a curb on their right
to design solely in accord with personal preferences and objectives.
1.1. Property Rights: The subject of property rights is both weighty and sensitive. All

land use and development regulations have some effect on property rights. Strong
opinions will likely be expressed as the public is brought into the process of creating
new viewshcd protection policies and ordinances, as evidenced by our experience in
creating the West Valley Hillside Design Review Zoning District ("-dl") in 1997-98.

A person's right to own and use property within legal limits is fundamental to our
society and economy. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution lays the
foundation for property rights by generally prohibiting the taking of private property
without just compensation. Specifically, a taking has been deemed to occur when
Vit•wslwd Rl•porl Addt•ndum, August 31, 2005


regulation for other than public health or safety reasons precludes all or nearly all of the
use and value of a property.
Any regulation that limits the use of property has a potential impact on the value of that
property. Even the most basic regulations such as septic system requirements or
building setbacks Iimi t the use of land and affect property value. However, one ·
particular issue that arises when considering hil1side viewshed protection is the fairly
direct relationship beh,veen views and visibility. A house that is sited and designed to
provide the best, broadest and least obstructed view will have a correspondingly high
visibility factor from those areas that can be seen from the house.
The quality and quantity of views can be a significant factor in the economic value of a
property, so any regulations by the County that would preclude or affect such viewpriority designs will indeed affect property values, the extent of which may vJry and
can be difficult to objectively define. Often, very steep or ridge top "view lots" that can
be very challenging to development are purchased at premium prices with an
expectation that ovvners may design a house that suits their specific needs and desires,
including maximizing views. As most of the more easily developed lots in hillside
areas have been developed long ago, costs of improving such lots can be high. Access,
geology, grading, septic system design, structural engineering, and other development
factors are often very complex and problematic. For many, the willingness to take on
the financial and development obstacles of a prized "view lot" is based on an
expectation of an ideally designed and sized house with the best view~ the lot affords.
Based on the model ordinances that staff reviewed, staff's preliminary
recommendations provide many options for reducing visual impacts of hilh;ide
development. Two of the most commonly used techniques for effective viewshed
protection under consideration are:

visibility analysis for minimal or reduced-visibility siting; and,


limitations on house size and/ or height.

Understandably, these may also be the most controversial and objectionable to
developers. They can have an effect on property values by precluding certain
development options deemed most desirable and advantageous to the property owner;
and they will likely be perceived as a curb on property rights. Other design controls
such as color limitations or light reflectivity value limits (LRV) and landscaping
specifications are already used by Santa Clara County and many other jurisdictions, but
these too limit personal choice and expression to various degrees, an4 thus impact
perceived property rights or prerogatives.
A Design Review process with augmented viewshed protection strategies would impact
property rights. It should not, however, preclude reasonable use and development of
property. However, each new restriction the County may consider should weigh the
degree of effectiveness in viewshed protection against the degree of impact on property
owner prerogatives and its effect on property rights. Properly crafted viewshed
protection policies and ordinance standards should practically and effectively afford
greater protection for the viewshed, while providing reasonable options and flexibility
Viewshcd Report Addendum, August 31, 2005


for hillside property owners, as \vell as process and economic incentives.

1.2. Costs: Land development can be a costly undertaking, particularly in Santa Clara

County's hillsides, where much of the remaining undeveloped land that is left is also
the most difficult to develop. Where applicable, the County's Design Review procedure
presently adds to development costs in several ways, beginning \l\1ith application fees
that are currently around $1,200.00. Fees would likely be increased if the County
adopts new requi·rements that would involve a more involved, time-consuming revie,",
process for projects with major viewshed impacts. Additional application
requirements, if mandated, such as story poles, profile views, or computer simulation,
would also increase applicant's costs. Lastly, project conditions such as landscaping can
also add to a project's costs, even though landscaping requirements are one of the most
commonly used conditif>ns in all jurisdictions.
Regarding time costs, the County's current Design Revievv process requires at least two
months. Por most projects, Design Review adds about hvo to three months to the time
it takes for a project to obtain approval, and it brings additional uncertainty for both the
timing of a project and design. Property owners who are unaware of-development
regulations or who are less fami1iar ·with hillside development processes are often
surprised and fn1stratcd when timing and costs substantially exceed their initial
expectations. Cities and counties address these issues as best they can by providing
information in a variety of ,,vays, but there are inevitably applicants for whom there are
unexpected delays and costs. The subjectivity inherent in applying design guidelines
and standards to unusual or problematic lots can also increase uncertainty that can
inflate costs. These costs can indude holding costs for land that will remain
undeveloped for additional periods of time, difficulties of coordinating with contractors
for star.t dntes, and additional ·design and engineering costs as a result of Countyprescribed siting and design changes.
Conversely, there are real, though less tangible, costs of allowing unchecked house and
site design that unnecessarily impacts and degrades the quality of the viewshed. This
more public quality-of-life factor is compelling enough-to have raised the viewshed
protection issue to its current high-priority status for the Board of Supervisors.
Economic a11d Ptocedura·l Incentives: Aside from the use of land acquisition (see
following section), there are other ways to provide economic and procedural incentives
that can promote viewshed preservation. The County's Grading Ordinance, for
example, has a requirement to limit grading to the minimum necessary to establish the
use. Complying with the Grading Ordinance and reducing unneeded grading serves as
an economic incentive to proper design, because minimizing grading typically
minimizes costs and the visual impacts of large retaining walls or slopes that appear
unnaturally engineered. The County's Grading Ordinance is currently in effect, but the
Vicwshed Report contains proposed modifications to the Grading Ordinance's findings
and standards to better address hillside development issues. Improvements would
enhance this incentive while also providing greater certainty of expectations, standards,
and desired outcomes.

Another means of providing incentives to reduce visual impacts could involve changes
to what does or does not count towards house size. Should the Viewshed Study result
Vit•wslwd Rc•pnrt Addendum, August 31, 2005


in limits or thresholds on house size, the current definition of floor area could be
reconsidered and revised in such a way that it provides incentive to design a less visible
house. The definition of fl0or area was added to the County Zoning Ordinance in 1991
to specifical1y address development issues in unincorporated pockets of Los Altos. It
relied on the City of Los Altos' definition as a model, and the floor area definition
remains today almost identical to the 1991 City of Los Altos definition. The definition
indudes the enclosed portions of a house that generally constitute the most visible bulk,
but it also includes certain decks, basements, balc0nies and other minor architectural
features that often do not contribute much to a house's apparent bulk, but are counted
exactly the same as are the enclosed living areas.
If floor area \A/ere redefined to Jocus more on those components of a building that
clearly constitute bulk and increase visibility, the result could be houses that arc both
less visible and rnore functional for their inhabitants. A revised definition of floor area
that excludes basements that are substantially or almost entirely below grade and minor
architectural features would encourage the use of basements, which are typically less
visible kinds of floor area. It could also be revised not to penalize and discourage the
use of some balconies, porches and other architectural_ features that can add character
and texture to a house, improve its appearance, and achieve greater consistency with
adopted Design Guidelines.

Finally, the possible use of a tiered regulatory and review process could provide
effective incentives to build reasonable, moderately sized, and less visually obtrusive
houses. Staff's preliminary recommendation is that the County develop such as process
to create procedural and cost incentives. If the process time, uncertainty, and costs are
minimized for "Tier 1" projects in return for compliance with basic standards such as
size, landscaping and color, there will be incentives to design below a certain size
threshold. In other words, process incentives would encourage houses smaller than a
certain threshold size, which would in tun1 achieve an overall reduction in
development costs. If the County elects to develop such a tiered review process, it will
also need to devote attention and resources to the enforcement of project conditions,
such as color and landscaping requirements, to ensure that projects that receive
expedited review and processing maintain compliance over time.
2. Open Space Acquisition and Coordination Among Agencies

Acquisition of open space for parks, wildlife refuges and habitat, and other open space
uses is the fourth of five major strategies outlined in the General Plan for implementing
the County's Open Space element. These strategies are outlined in the Open Space
Action Program, a part of the Open Space element of the General Plan contained in
Appendix #3 of Book B of the General Plan. The recommendations of the Viewshed
Report are based on the framework of strategies contained in the Open Space Action
The three primary local governmental agencies in Santa Clara County that are involved
in acquisition and management of open space lands are the County Parks & Recreation
Department ("Parks"), Santa Clara County Open Space Authority ("OSA"), and
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District ("MROSD"). Reference to an open space
district for Santa Clara County is most often made in regard to the Santa Clara County
Viewshcd Report Addl>ndum, August 31, 2005


Open Space Authority (OSA). However, the MROSD also has jurisdiction within Santa
Clara County. The OSA is a Benefit Assessment District, and MROSD is a Special
District. Each is governed by a somewhat different set of state regulations. This report
includes an attached map of OSA and MROSD jurisdictional boundaries in Santa Clara
County (Attachment A).
2.1. Acquisition Strategies and Planning

Each of these agencies utiHzes strategic plans and establishes priorities for open space
acquisition. ln the case o_f County Parks, the basis for land acquisition efforts is the
Parks & Recreation element of the General Plan, ,,vhich includes a Regional Parks and
Scenic Highways Map clement. County Parks Deparbnent also relies on their more
recently adopted Strategic Plan (2004), as ,,veil as a number of established evaluation
procedures and numerous criteria for proposed acquisitions, including habitat value,
likely uses of the land, links with other parks or open space, and. threat of development.
Primary considerntion is given to acquisition of (a) "inholdings," which are private
lands surrounded by Parks lands, (b) lands immediately adjacent to other parks and
open space, and (c) lands defined by logical, dear boundaries or which might create
clear logical boundaries.
The OSA and MROSD also utilize priorities, criteria, and strategic plans, with long-term
time horizons of 20 to 50 years, or longer. For example, the OSA relies upon the
County's Open Space 2020 Preservation Report from 1987 in large part as a beginning
point for acquisition priorities. However, OSA's priorities have been adjusted over time
and as circumstances change. These agency's planning time horizons reflect the fact that
fulfillment of their mission involves efforts that will continue over generations, not over
a short term planning horizon such as five or even ten years, which is more typical of
capital improvements programs. Their long term vision is also a reflection of the fact
that successful acquisition efforts are based on seizing opportunities, adequate funding,
negotiation skills, and timing, just as much, if not more so, than active pursuit of a
particular property or set of properties.
The nature and mission of each agency differs somewhat. The OSA receives funding for
acquisition and management of land through two benefit assessment districts.
Acquisition of land is dispersed geographically throughout OSA's jurisdiction and the
county. The MROSD is a special district that is defined differently in state law from the
OSA and has more flexibility in its ability to acquire open space anywhere within its
jurisdiction. Parks Department's mission is primarily to acquire and develop regional
parks, park facilities, and trails for the enjoyment of residents of the county. However,
there are commonalities. Each agency focuses on areas that are within the primary
viewshed of Santa Clara County's urbanized areas, and their functions are often
correlated. For example, all share acquisition priorities where connections between
existing open space lands or regional trails segments are involved, particularly the Bay
and Ridge Trails. Furthermore, the vision on which the Parks Master Plan is based has
traditionally been referred to as a "necklace of parks" or framework of public open
space immediately accessible to and s·urrounding the urbanized areas of the north and
south Santa Clara VaIIeys.
2.2. Agency Coordination and Partnerships

A significant amount of coordination already takes place on both a formal and informal

basis between these agencies, through the working relationships of the staff. Each seeks
to make the best use of each other's strengths, priorities, and resources. Coordinated
funding efforts for acquisition have increased over the years, and communication is
ongoing. In that regard, the County as a jurisdiction, through its Parks Department,
already has a strongly established partnership with each of the other public agencies.
Each agency seeks to build upon the existing foundation or cooperation and
collaboration into the future.
There are also other private entities that may acquire and manage open space or obtain
easements for open space and conservation of n·atural resources. These include private
non-profit conservation organizations, such as Nature Conservancy, and land trusts.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) is another well known private land acquisition
entity. Each has developed a specific role, focus, and strategies for achieving desired
acquisition of open space lands, specific to the missions of the organizations. While
POST has been most active over the years in acquiring land in the Santa Cruz
Mountains and along the cost of San Mateo and Santa Cruz County, the Nature
Conservancy has focused recently on preserving large expanses of land within the
interior of the Diablo Range.
2.3. Land Management Responsibilities

Management, oversight, and enforcement of easements over private lands are also
significant functions of the OSA and MROSD, as well as private entities. County Parks
typically acquires land in fee, which includes management and liability. There are
significant costs associated with the management and oversight of private lands where
open space or conservation easements of one kind or another have been acquired. The
agency holding the easement has the obligation to enforce the terms of the easement to
prevent use and development that is not allowed under the terms of the easement.
Furthermore, in some cases, active land restoration and conservation activities are
necessary to carry out the terms of the easement. For lands owned in fee or under
easement, both the OSA and MROSD are responsibl~ for land management, resource
stewardship, and general maintenance and security. Each employs a significant
proportion of staff for rangers and related maintenance issues.
2.4. Identification of Major Issues and Findings

Staff held discussions with these local agencies for the purpose of responding to the
Board's requests for additional information at the August workshop. The general
conclusions of those discussions were as follows:
A. Funding Issues. Under funding is much more of an issue for each agency than

coordination, collaborative acquisitions, or need for strategic planning. Data
sharing, mapping, and interagency communication are all ongoing. Each agency
performs its own strategic planning functions, for which some infonnation is public
and some is internal only. However, for each to be more successful, individually and
collaboratively, additional long-term funding sources need to be pursued.

Viewshed Report Addendum, August 31, 2005


Continuing the Parks Charter Fund is an essential and primary component of
County Parks funding, but not the complete pichtre.
B. County Parks Master Plan is Dated but Not Inadequate. The Parks and Recreation
Depc1rtment's Strategic Plan indicates a need to update the County Regional Parks
Master Plan, a part of the General Plan, given that the master plan was originally
adopted in 1980 and is relatively unchanged since 1980. That update effort would
be most successful if conducted as a distinct review process, or as part of an update
of the Parks and Recreation Element of the General Plan, not as a part of a
comprehensive update of the Genera] Plan.
C. Coordination is Ongoing and Adequate. Partnerships and the ongoing

coordir1c1tion and communication behveen local agencies is deemed adequate.
However, updating and mapping of open space lands owned in fee and various
easements is a continuing need, as identified in the Viewshed Report.

D. Focus is on Long Tenn Planning and Vision. Acquisition agencies are guided
mostly by very long term planning horizons and a vision of success that spans
generations. Short term strategic planning (one to five years) may apply most
logically to adapting to changing situations for specific properties being tracked, and
making minor adjusbnents in priorities related to new opportunities. These activities
are conducted mostly through discussions that are internal to an agency. However,
all acquisition efforts are based more on long term plans and visions, such as the
County Parks Master Plan, the 1987 Open Space 2020 Report, and agency master
plans. For these agencies, acquisition and land management will inevitably continue
to occur over a much longer time horizon than that of a five-year interval more
typical for capital projects.
Once open space land has been acquired, a capital improvement"plan for various
facilities mt1y be scheduled over a one to ten year plan, depending on funding. For
example, parking areas, staging areas, and trails may be developed over a short term
planning horizon, with more extensive facilities taking longer, but a five year plan
for major acquisitions·or the completion of desired acquisitions is not commensurate
with the Jong term horizon utilized by these agencies.

E. Role of County General Plan Remains Critical. The County's General Plan and its

Open Space element, including the Action Program, function as a regional planning
document for open space preservation. Its goals and policies are implemented by
many agencies and entities other than tho~e of County government. The Open
Space Action Program also serves as a framework for understanding how the
General PI an, Zoning Ordinance, and other programs work collectively towards the
protection of rnral lands and permanent preservation of open space. Maintaining a
stable General Plan and Zoning Ordinance regulations provides for reasonable,
common expectations about-future use and development, discourages unwarranted
land speculation, and facilitates property appraisals and valuations.

Vit•wslwd R<.•port Addt•ndum, August

:n, 2005


Conclusion and Summary of Findings
In conclusion, this informational report has been provided in response to the questions
and requests of the Board made at its April 19, 2005 meeting. It serves as an addendum
to the main Viewshed Report presented April 19, 2005, but contains no other
preliminary recommendations for viewshed protection measures other than those
contained in the main report. The findings or conclusions of this addendum are as
1. Design Review entails some additional costs to property owners and applicants and
like all local land use controls and regulatory processes, affects and limits in some
ways the use of private property. The degree to which new regulations or
development standards affects the use of private property depends on the degree of
discretionary review and control the Board desires to exercise over viewshed
development. Based on previous experience, the Board should expect to hear
significant complaints and concerns regarding potential impacts on property rights.
2. Economic and procedural incentives to preserve open space and achieve consistency
with desired goals and standards for viewshed development are included in staff's
preliminary recommendations (see main report). In addition to those
recommendations, this report discussed possible changes to the definition of what
counts towards floor area, such as how below-grade portions of houses or
basements might be addressed, as well as certain balconies, decks, or architectural
3. Coordination and collaboration among the major public open space acquisition
agencies in Santa Clara County is adequate and ongoing. However, County Parks,
Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, and the Midpeninsula Regional Open
Space District all suggest better long term funding needs to be provided to augment
existing funding.
. 4. The County's Parks Master Plan, which is part of the County General Plan, is dated,

but not inadequate. However, it would be most appropriate to consider updating
this long-range planning document in a manner similar to the way the Countywide
Trails Master Plan was updated in the early 1990's, separate and distinct from any
comprehensive update or review of the General Plan.

5. Open space acquisition agencies mostly operate according to very long term
planning time horizons and vision statements, and they expect to achieve success
over generations, not shorter-term horizons of five-year increments. Five year
planning studies are more commonly applied to well-defined capital improvements
and infrastructure projects. 6. A stable rural land use plan st_abilizes expectations about future land development
and discourages speculative purchases. Property owners also benefit from a stable,
dependable General Plan in making long range plans for the use or disposition of

Vicwshcd Report Addendum, August 31, 2005



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Addendum and Report for Land Use Workshoip.


James T. Beall, Jr.

Content Type


Resource Type





District 4


Jody Hall Esser, Interim Director of Planning and Development




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