Letter to SJWC President

November 29, 2005


Richard Roth, President San Jose Water Company
374 West Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA 95196

Dear Mr. Roth:

We would like to meet with you to discuss your plan to log the Los Gatos Mountains. Given the vast areas covered by your plan and the severe impact it will have on our community and our family, it is important that we meet at your earliest opportunity.

Upon our initial review of your logging plan, we find two aspects most disturbing. First, you plan to log 244 acres with massive, twin-rotor helicopters that will be flown near schools and neighborhoods. The plan openly acknowledges that these operations will generate horrendous noise. (Plan, Sec. IV, pp. 145-150.)

Incredibly, you have chosen to locate the landing strips for these helicopters within a few hundred yards of Loma Prieta Elementary School. Other landing strips will be located in a residential neighborhood. (Plan, Sec. II, p. 33.24.) Under your plan, children sitting in their classrooms will be subjected to the relentless blasting of helicopters flying near their schools, and local residents will be forced to endure the excessive noise and disruption caused by these airships. It is difficult to imagine how such a plan could have ever been submitted. Our children should never be forced to endure such noise where they live, play, and attend school. The levels of noise that you plan to generate will not simply be a nuisance, but it will in fact endanger our children’s health and well being.

Your plan threatens our own son. Although he is a beautiful and fearless little boy, when he hears loud noises, he puts his fingers in his ears and seeks to get away. Many children react to loud noises in a similar manner. Where are our children supposed to escape to as your helicopters roar relentlessly above their homes and schools?

I want to emphasize to you in the strongest terms possible that under no circumstances will we allow you to endanger our children, and we will take every lawful measure necessary to prevent you from doing so. We demand that you modify your plan so that the use of helicopters near schools and residential areas will be strictly prohibited.

Secondly, your plan makes clear that you intend to violate the Santa Clara County Noise Ordinance on a constant basis. In your plan you state that your twin-rotor, twin-engine helicopters will generate noise at 92 decibels when hovering and 85 decibels for flyovers. (Plan, Sec. IV, pp. 145-150.) Under Santa Clara County law, the maximum noise levels that can be generated in residential and school zones is 55 decibels. Although the law provides for some noise to exceed this limit, it can only occur for a short duration. For instance, noise is permitted at 70 to 75 decibels five minutes every hour and at 75 to 80 decibels for one minute every hour. No noise is allowed above 80 decibels. Yet your plan states that your helicopter operations alone will routinely exceed these levels.

Further, you have understated the levels of noise that will actually be generated by your helicopters. They typically operate at 95 to 105 decibels. And you have not disclosed any information as to the noise that will be generated by other logging operations, such as chain saws, heavy equipment, and cable operations. Generating this level of noise is not only a violation of the Noise Ordinance, but it creates a nuisance that violates the property rights of those that must endure it.

Certainly your company should not be above the law. Nor should it disregard the property rights of those living in the community near your logging operations. Therefore, we demand that you modify your plan so that it expressly states that the logging must comply with the Santa Clara County Noise Ordinance. We also insist that your plan be revised to eliminate the activities that you know beforehand will violate the Noise Ordinance.

Finally, it is evident that even early in this process there is significant public outrage over your logging plan. The public opposition goes well beyond the issues I have raised in this letter and is due to the far-reaching harms that your plan is certain to cause, or threatens to cause, both the community and the environment. If necessary, we will address those issues on another occasion. We understand that your principal motivation for logging is economic. Yet your logging plan is one that is certain to generate protracted and costly litigation and considerable bad will towards your company. In fact, the latter has already occurred.

Rather than proceed with your plan to log the mountain forest, we invite you to work with us in developing a plan that will protect the community, respect the environment and at the same time allow you to realize substantial financial profits. The best solution would be for your company to sell the property (while retaining water rights) or a conservation easement at fair market value to the agencies and conservancies interested in preserving this unique forest landscape. Given that you operate as a public utility water company and not a logging company, it seems to make far more sense to work with the community to achieve an outcome that we can all appreciate. We look forward to meeting with you. Please let us know the convenient times when we can meet. It is best to contact us by email at jc484@comcast.net.

Sincerely, Jim & Dawn Cracolice

Terry Clark
December 1, 2005