Fight for Milpitas Hills.
SPENCER MICHELS: In the fast-growing town of Milpitas, near San Jose, it was the voters who acted against developers. The issue was development of the hills adjacent to the town. A handful of luxury subdivisions were built there recently, and some landowners planned to develop more. . . . Longtime homeowner Maria Lemery led a ballot initiative called Measure Z to create an urban growth boundary, a line at the base of the hills beyond which most new development would be forbidden.
MARIA LEMERY: Once you open it up, and the city approves developments and agrees to provide services, basically it's very growth-inducing, then there's another development, another development, and that's what you call sprawl.
SPENCER MICHELS: Lemery valued her view of the hills, and didn't want it ruined.
MARIA LEMERY: Why do people go off and do camping? Why do we go off into the woods? Why do we feel that need? It's just there. If we were to let the market forces prevail, we would not have beautiful open spaces.
SPENCER MICHELS: 55 percent of the voters approved Measure Z, and so the road separating the hills from the homes became the urban growth boundary. Still, there were plenty of unhappy homeowners, like Karen Serpa. Serpa says she had wanted to protect the open spaces as well, but thought it could be done without new regulation. Her family has owned 29 acres of the Milpitas Hills for two generations.
KAREN SERPA: The public in Milpitas is very, very centered on the fact that they like the hills. They go so far as saying "our hills." They are not their hills. I do not owe the public a view of my open hills. This is an issue, keep local control of our hills, vote no on Z. This was the basis of our campaign.
SPENCER MICHELS: Serpa led the opposition to Measure Z, which she said would prevent her from building homes for her three children on her own land. But she knew she was fighting against a popular cause.
KAREN SERPA: . . . There are many areas that can be environmentally protected. I don't think it should ride on the back of individual citizens.
SPENCER MICHELS: And you think it's on your back?
KAREN SERPA: Absolutely.
SPENCER MICHELS: Developer Tom Koch, who builds homes throughout the Bay Area, says anti-growth initiatives are unrealistic.
TOM KOCH: We're talking about our children and where they're going to live, and that's the real issue that the Bay Area faces. Our projections are the state will have 48 million people by the year 2020. We currently have 33 ½ million people. I know of no policy, no directive that would change that in the least. So we need housing at all levels, at all income levels, in all locations. That's what needs to happen for California to be able to handle this challenge.
Source: Corporation for Public Broadcasting. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/transportation/jan-june99/sprawl_5-26.html