Today I took part in a walking tour of Coyote Meadows in San Jose. The event was organized by a coalition of interested groups, and they provided information and historical context throughout the 90-minute walk. It was both interesting and provocative.
The area was once the site of a brickyard that got its clay from a quarry there. Once the clay pit had been exhausted, it was used as a landfill site for trash. That has since been covered in soil and a large walkable hill has been created, with outstanding views of the city centre and surrounding mountains.
In the past, much of the area was occupied by up to 300 homeless people, but they were evicted two years ago and the city removed 600 tons of trash that had accumulated. Those people were offered temporary shelter and access to social services, but a few have returned.
Last year, there was a “100-year” flood that impacted the entire area and flooded any buildings that were in that floodplain. Because of that possibility, the land cannot be used for the construction of businesses or dwellings.
The organizers of the tour were interested in any ideas that would put the land to good use but which did not involve buildings. Suggestions included a sculpture park, hiking trails, a climbing wall, picnic areas, butterfly habitat, pedestrian/cyclist bridges, and a children’s play area.
The property includes an old disused railway trestle which can be walked over and under, and there are footpaths underneath the eight-lane Highway 280. Each of these presents possibilities for enhanced use, and I will be very interested to see which concepts capture the imaginations of the local residents.
Here are some of the pictures I took while on the tour.