The County of Santa Clara

Board Referral

Direct Administration to work with interested conservation partners and property owners to explore the opportunity to acquire the property or easements to conserve all or some of the 6,500 acres that comprise the property commonly known as Sargent Ranch. (Simitian)


Department:Supervisor S. Joseph Simitian (Supervisorial District Five)Sponsors:
Category:Board Referral



To determine the interest and ability to protect all or some of the 6,500 acres that comprise the property commonly known as Sargent Ranch.



The land itself is home to complex ecosystems with rolling hills, meandering creeks, and even wetlands. Its diverse landscape includes habitats such as annual grasslands, oak woodlands, riparian woodlands, and chaparral.


Its habitat value is so substantial that in the Habitat Conservation Plan that served as the basis for the creation of the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, the Sargent Ranch lands are included among those having significant acquisition value based on specific habitat characteristics.



The potential acquisition of these lands provides an opportunity to preserve connectivity between important wildlife corridors in the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The lands are highly valued for the habitat they provide and their preservation will contribute to the long term viability of vulnerable species like the Red Legged Frog that are found on the property. The preservation of land in open space also contributes to climate resiliency.



Conservation of large, intact properties like Sargent Ranch, rarely happens at the behest of one single organization, rather it is common for property owners and multiple public and public-interest agencies to work together collaboratively. In the absence of such collaboration, habitat conservation is less likely to occur.



Meeting History

Jan 23, 2018 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Three individuals addressed the Board.

At the request of President Simitian, the Board directed Administration to collaborate with interested conservation partners and property owners relating to acquiring all or some of the property or easements at Sargent Ranch.

At the request of Supervisor Cortese, the Board directed County Counsel to schedule a discussion in Closed Session meeting on date uncertain relating to price and terms of acquisition of the Sargent Ranch property or easements.

Supervisor Cortese requested that Administration report to the Board on date uncertain relating to the use of Park Trust Fund money in acquisition of property outside of the County of Santa Clara.

At the request of Vice President Chavez, the Board directed Administration to include the Amah Mutsun Tribe in discussions relating to Sargent Ranch.

President Simitian recessed the meeting at 12:12 p.m.

MOVER:S. Joseph Simitian, President
SECONDER:Cindy Chavez, Vice President
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Ken Yeager, S. Joseph Simitian


Jan 23, 2018 9:30 AMBoard of SupervisorsRegular Meeting


11:58 AMFour speakers on this item. Just by way of introduction,colleagues, I would say thatwhat we're asking for here is simple 3 direct theadministration to work within aninterested conservation partnersand property owners to explore the opportunity to acquire theproperty or easements, thesergeant ranch. This is in supervisor wasserman's district. I appreciate talking through theissue with me, and i'm delightedwe've got the folks here today to speak to the issue. Shawnee edwards fall bed bydave, to be followed byvalentine lopez to be followed by paul.welcome.
Mr. President, supervisors,this is a subject that has been dear to my heart for almost twodecades. When I first moved fromportland, oregon, to morgan hill, it stood out like a thumbas an issue where it's the onlyplace where oil pumping iscurrently going on in the county. I was very involved in theanti-fracking movement. I'd just like to read you a letter. Dear president simitian santaclara county supervisors, thesanta clara valley audubon society, sierra club, committeefor green foot hills, californianative plants society santaclara county chapter, green valley alliance, keep greenvalley beautiful write andsupport supervisor simitian'srecommendation to work with interested conservation partnersand property owners to explorethe opportunity to acquire theproperty of easements to conserve all or some of the6,500-acres that comprise theproperty commonly know assergeant ranch. I've been privilegeed to havegone on three personalized tourswith the ranch manager. Every time I go out there, I see something that just blows mymind. Owls, and red tail hawks flyingtogether. It's a stunning property. Very high water table and thatwater shed floods directly intothe monterey bay. The unique opportunity to buy apiece of property that equals orsurpasses coyote valley, and itsimportance to our environment. Thank you. Supv simitian: thank you. If you're standing there, pleasewalk right up. Welcome.
12:01 PMThank you, name's valentine lopez andi'm the chairman of the - - our tribe is comprised of documenteddescendents of both - - sergeantranch most sacred most importantproperty to the tribal band, a home of our spiritual leader. We have four villages at oraround sergeant ranch, now knownto us as. . . And it's very important. We fully support the boardreferral to explore thepossibility of acquisition of this property. Protect it for many, manyimportant reasons. A few of those reasons are very important wild life corridor. It is at the center most part ofthe santa cruz mountains and avery important corridor east to west for all wild life passingthrough. Sergeant ranch has many springson it. These are very important forwild life to survive, and it'sneeded for their survival there. As you know, the proposal for sand and gravel to be approvedthat would severely impact thesprings that are there, and thatwould impact the wild life. Also, whenever we look atlandscapes in california, 96% ofthe landscapes that we see couldbe 99, 5, highway 1, those plants are 96% non-native. We need to restore our nativeplants. It is the native plants that the animals of these lands know andneed.[ beep ]
12:03 PMThank the county for their board referral and we fullysupport it, thank you. Supv simitian: thank you verymuch. Paul.and then dave, if he is stillwith us.
Good afternoon, my name is paul, i'm the santa clara countylegislative advocate for thecommittee of green foot hills. I'm pleased to speak in support of supervisor simitian'sreferral regarding the lock-termprotection of sergeant ranch. This irreplaceable 6,500-acred lot is one of the last undeveloped spaces in santa claracounty. Serves as a critical migratory corridor. The creeks, wetlands,grasslands, woodlands ofsergeant ranch provide important natural environmental services. This land is also sacred ground. A deep cultural legacyrepresented by this land deserves our protection becauseof the extraordinary culturaland spiritual values that we allshare. Sergeant ranch is a treasure andrepresents a rich ecological andcultural legacy that we canleave for our children. Thank you very much. Supv simitian: thank you and letme do just one last call fordave who May simply have had to leave. Seems that's the case. Colleagues, i'm going to askthat the clerk please post the voting panel on our screens. Make a motion to approve. I will indicate just brieflythat this is simply a direction to the administration to workwith interested conservationpartners and the property ownsto explore the opportunity. At this point, I would say tooearly to know where thoseconversations might go. I want to be very clear, these conversations have, I believe,already been under way. This is really a way ofsignaling the fact that the county is interested in being ahelpful participant in thoseconversations. With that, i'll turn to supervisor cortese, and then goto supervisor chavez.
12:05 PMThank you, presidentsimitian. on the motion, um, I want tomake sure - - first of all, letme say I understand the wordexplore, and I understand the word partners, I also understandthat acquisition of easements inproperty like this costs money. And that at some point it's likely that partners andcollaborators are going to becoming to the county for a shareof any moment that might be tendered as an offer at somepoint. So I think it's really importantas part of this motion that we direct a closed sessiondiscussion on price and terms assoon as possible before peoplestart getting their hopes up that we have money growing ontrees here to the tune ofperhaps over100 million-dollars. The asking price for thisproperty and the sales price ofthis property has been in thepast in excess of 14,000-dollars an acre which would be far, farbeyond anything the county hasever participated in in thepast. Again, I don't want to get intoa price in terms of discussionout here, because we have theright under state law to have those discussions privately sowe don't under mine any kind ofa bargaining position. I'm supportive of the item. Obviously this has been one ofthose crown jewel acquisitionsthat government and privatesector folks have looked at for decades and decades. And if it could be acquired oran easement could be acquired atthe right price I would just telegraph that for me that wouldmean agricultural values. Then that would probably be agood deal. I think we need to get in thosediscussions. I appreciate the discussionsthat have been going on already, supervisor simitian. I wasn't aware of any formaldiscussions, or I haven't evenbeen informed informally as a county supervisor here thatanybody has been out, you know,negotiating for this property. So if nothing else i'm glad you brought it to our attention ifthat's the case. But I think we need to have anopportunity to give some formal direction in terms of where ourinterest starts and ends from afiscal standpoint. One question I have - - I would ask that to be a friendlyamendment to the motion,president simitian. Just essentially the referral back to council to make surethat they schedule a closedsession discussion sooner thanlater. Supv simitian: i'm certainlyhappy to incorporate that intothe motion. Supervisor chavez confirms she is acceptable. Supv cortese: tossing figuresaround is not intended to bereckless. In fact, I should qualify at thefigures i'm looking at representvalues that might be as much as15 years old. So god knows what those numberswould look like now in what aseller would consider to be anarm's length transaction. The question I have is, and itwas just I had a side bar withsupervisor wasserman about this. My understanding is or always was even having looked at it asa private sector person manyyears ago, that part of thispresident obama property is ack decades part of this property isactually in san bonito count y. I'm wondering if indeed we godown the path at some point of thinking about contributing parktrust fund money to such anacquisition, can it be usedoutside the county? It's just a factual question. I'm not for that or against it,i'm just curious as to whetherit's a limitation of county boundaries. Does anyone know?if not, maybe you can let usknow.
12:09 PMI'll have to look into that.supv cortese: okay.thank you.that's all I and thank you. supv simitian: supervisorchavez. Supv chavez: thank you verymuch. I think this is very excitingand I am particularly pleasedthat the chairman of the tribelopez was here to talk about the importance of that property. What I would just ask is that asthe community starts to work anddiscuss and sort of strategize over this that the tribe isincluded. The reason i'll mention this isthat I had a conversation about a year ago as I started to thinkabout this property as well so iwant to just make sure that thetable's big enough for everybody to weigh in.
12:10 PMThank you.let me ask that all membersplease vote on the screen, if you haven't had a chance to dothat. I believe that all members havenow posted their votes, so we'll ask the clerk to tally the voteand display the resultsoverhead. And that measure passes 5-0, thank you all very much. All right, that takes us to itemnumber 13. Let me just ask colleagues, I need to step away for just acouple of minutes, but i've hada couple of you ask about takinga brief recess. Would this be a good time to dothat? Why don't we say 13 minuteswhich will get us back here at 12:25 p. M. Sharp. All right?we are going to stand a recessuntil 1225. Thank you all for your patientand understanding.