Viewshed Protection Referral

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County of Santa Clara

Office of the Board of Supervisors

County Government Center. East Wing
70 West Hedding street, i oth Floor

San Jose. California 951 10
(408) 299-5040

Fax:(408) 299-2038 TDD 993-8272

James T. Beall, Jr.

Supervisor Fourth District


Board of Supervisors

From: Supervisor James T. Beall, Jr., District Four
Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, District Two
Date: February 10, 2005

Viewshed Protection Referral

Recommended Actions

Direct staff to report-back to the Board of Supervisors with options for a ridgeline/
viewshed protection ordinance.


Direct staff to report-back on model city ordinances within Santa Clara County that address
ridgeline/viewshed protection.


Direct staff to provide planning and enforcement options for the Planning Department to
utilize existing tools, such as .Architecture and Sjte Approval ('ASA). Environmental Impact
Report (EIR), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), in implementing future ridgeline/
viewshed protection policies.


Direct staff to prepare a budget proposal that outlines the cost of planning and implementing a

ridgeline/viewshed ordinance, including contract options.

As Chairperson in 2001, Supervisor Beall facilitated a Land Use Workshop to discuss existing
and future land use issues and tools that would address a multitude of challenges and policies
within the Planning Department. Following this workshop, the Board of Supervisors reviewed
and adopted a workplan for the Planning Department that reflected the Board’s priorities and
expectations. On numerous occasions as the Board discussed specific land use hearings,
Boardmembers commented on the need for clarity in our General Plan regarding viewshed
protection and increasing requests for super-sized residential homes (e.g. Bansal appeal and
Moody Road).

In our opinion, the existing design review guidelines adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 1998
do not provide the necessary ordinances and policies to protect the hillsides and ridgelines of

Santa Clara County. There is a need for stronger and uniform regulations and clear development

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standards that will provide practical guidelines for developers as well as decrease the likelihood
of appeals. Reducing uncertainty for homeowners and developers is one of our goals.

A potential method of reducing confusion and finstration is to adopt ordinances and enforce
planning guidelines that are compatible with city regulations found within our county. Specific
changes in policy and review standards for single site developments will also provide open-space
protection. We believe the proposed recommendations are an important first step towards
comprehensive protection of Santa Clara County hillsides and ridgelines.
The Planning Department indicated that it intends to return to the Board of Supervisors with the
viewshed study pilot project, containing recommendations for implementation of county wide
ridgeline/viewshed protection policies. We request that the above recommendations be included
in the report-back and that staff provide a report to the full Board of Supervisors prior to April

Referral requesting options for a ridgeline/viewshed protection ordinance that would limit development on hillsides and in rural areas.


James T. Beall, Jr.

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District 4


Jim Beall, Supervisor, District 4
Blanca Alvarado, Supervisor, District 2




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