Vested Rights Decision

Dear Clean Environment Supporters,

On Thursday, July 28 BACE (Bay Area for Clean Environment) suffered a legal setback when a state appeals court upheld an earlier decision ruling that vested rights to conduct surface mining operations existed on much of Lehigh’s roughly 3,500 acre quarry in the hills west of Cupertino and Los Altos.

BACE filed a lawsuit on behalf of Santa Clara County residents following a February 8, 2011 decision by the County Board of Supervisors declaring that mining operations on 13 of 19 parcels of land qualified as legal nonconforming use. This meant that Lehigh could expand its operations into those parcels without public review and consideration of public health and welfare that a use permit and mining permit would require. (16 page court decision)

Obviously it is a disappointing ruling, but BACE remains committed to protecting citizens health,  quality of life, and our local environment. The legal challenge that you all supported delayed any expansion at the quarry for more than five years and, more importantly, united neighboring cities in supporting our efforts for the first time. The Town of Los Altos Hills, City of Los Altos, Town of Portola Valley, and the City of Sunnyvale, joined the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Committee for Green Foothills, and Breathe California in an amicus brief supporting BACE’s appeal. Local communities and their elected officials are aware as never before of the presence and impact of this major industrial facility in our midst. But we have much more to do.

Our Work Continues.

Legal: BACE has a second lawsuit that will be heard by an appeals court next month. This case focuses on what BACE considers serious deficiencies in Lehigh’s current reclamation plan. (read our complaint)

Noise: BACE will be creating a petition on Change.org to support the City of Cupertino’s efforts to reduce the noise levels from Lehigh. If you hear a persistent humming, especially in the evening and at night please click here and sign our petition. You do not need to be a Cupertino resident to sign the petition. We need to send a clear message to Santa Clara County that regulates and enforces the noise ordinances.

Expansion: Finally, we need to prepare to fight any mining expansion by Lehigh. If you are deeply concerned about any expansion of surface mining in our local foothills please contact BACE. Write us a brief message about your concerns and how you might be willing to help with this particular issue. We will respond to every message.

Thank you for your continuing support.   

— The BACE  Team

www.BayAreaCleanEnvironment.org

Please forward this email to your friends, family, and neighbors.

In Memory of Bill Almon

obit_williamalmon_165_200William J. “Bill” Almon was a friend to BACE and a local leader in the fight to reduce the negative impacts of the Lehigh Cement Plant and Quarry on our communities. While a successful high tech executive, and devoted husband and father, we knew Bill best as a highly informed, plain speaking, persistent champion of the local environment. In retirement he made it his mission to understand the vast and complicated operations of Lehigh, currently the largest single source of mercury emission in the Bay Area and the largest single source polluter of green house gasses in the south bay. He was not afraid to take on the multi-national corporation, testifying at local and state hearings whenever Lehigh was on the agenda. When Bill spoke people listened because what he had to say was valued and valuable. He challenged local and state lawmakers and regulatory agencies to enforce existing environmental laws and pushed for greater oversight and restrictions on the facility, often working behind the scenes with stakeholders to move the fight forward. He funded studies to expose operating or reporting deficiencies at the facility and founded QuarryNo, a grassroots network of voting residents in Santa Clara County committed to preventing future expansion of the cement plant and quarry.

Sadly, Bill passed away June 13, 2016 after a valiant struggle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. He was 83 years old. We shall miss his counsel, passion and perseverance. We have lost a strong ally in our fight to improve and protect our local and regional environment.

Obituary in Los Altos Town Crier