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County planning pressed on Stevens Creek Quarry

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Oct. 20 voted unanimously to direct county staff to develop and implement a plan for better monitoring and enforcement of use-permit conditions at Stevens Creek Quarry.

The vote came after an independent review by Harvey Rose Associates, at the request of Supervisor Joe Simitian, identified several deficiencies in the County Department of Planning and Development’s oversight of the quarry. The site is located in the unincorporated area just outside Los Altos and Cupertino.

“The review pointed out multiple concerns with the department’s oversight,” said Simitian, who represents the district that includes Stevens Creek Quarry.

The quarry is a bluestone aggregate mining operation that consists of two areas, Parcel A and Parcel B. Parcel A contains offices, a truck scale, a recycling facility for concrete and asphalt, and the city of Cupertino’s compost distribution facility, with operations governed by a conditional-use permit. Parcel B contains surface mining activities, including crushing of rock mined at the quarry, with operations guided by a mediated agreement.

The permit and agreement include conditions that must be adhered to for regular operations to continue.

The auditor’s review found six conditions from the use permit that require ongoing monitoring with no record of being monitored or enforced at the time of the audit. Additionally, the audit found the quarry operator out of compliance with one of the conditions in the mediated agreement, with no enforcement action taken by the planning department. The deficiencies are related to noise monitoring and an accounting of trucks, truck trips, daily loads and equipment inventories.

“Local residents need some assurance that Santa Clara County is on the job; that our planning department is rigorously monitoring and enforcing the conditions of approval, as we should,” Simitian said.

Rhoda Fry, a longtime observer of local quarry activity at Stevens Creek and the adjacent Lehigh quarry, applauded the action.

“The county has now revealed what we have always known – the county’s oversight of mines has been inadequate,” she said in an email last week.

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