October 28, 2004
By Sandy Brundage
Coyote-trapping ordinance fails again to win council's approval
Three weeks ago the San Jose City Council voted by a narrow margin not to allow emergency trapping of coyotes in the Villas of Almaden gated community. During the Oct. 26 council meeting, the oddly resurrected motion failed again, by a larger margin: This time, five council members voted against lifting the ban and six voted for it.
The motion needed at least eight "yea" votes to pass.
Council members Ken Yeager, Linda LeZotte, Terry Gregory, Forrest Williams and Nora Campos voted no.
"I don't think we've done enough to exhaust other options," said LeZotte, echoing the same concerns expressed by the other naysayers. "It's shortsighted. It'll give you a false sense of security. I really believe that."
She also wondered aloud how the issue had reappeared on the agenda without a motion to reconsider. City Attorney Rick Doyle said that a new letter from California Fish & Game officials constituted enough new information for the issue to be re-evaluated anyway.
"I accept that explanation, but I don't necessarily agree. It concerns me that there are ways around voting on something more than once. It's astounding to me what's on our agenda," said LeZotte.
Cries of dismay were heard from the residents of the Villas of Almaden in council chambers after the vote. The Villas of Almaden is a 192-home gated community at Coleman Road and Meridian Avenue. Residents have been complaining of aggressive coyote behavior, such as stalking people who are out walking dogs.
Several cats, allowed to roam the neighborhood, have also been killed.
Vice Mayor Pat Dando, who represents District 10 in which the Villas sits, insisted that the residents of the Villas have been taking proactive steps to solve the problem—such as removing compost sites—and argued that traps were needed now to save human lives. Santa Clara County Vector Control concurred, she said.
"It should go without saying that people are important, too," Dando said. "No one up here today would say that animals aren't important. There isn't anyone up here who would take lightly the actions I hope you will take today. But I have to repeat again, people are important, too."
However, Little Blue Society, a nonprofit consultant group hired by the city to solve the coyote problem, said residents as recently as Oct. 18 were still not removing all possible food sources, such as birdseed, and were not keeping their cats inside.
Fifteen of the 28 speakers at the meeting spoke against killing the coyotes. Wildlife experts testified that trapping the current pack of five coyotes would only exacerbate the problem down the road as new packs return to the neighborhood.
Mary Paglieri, director of the Little Blue Society, said at the meeting that despite offering a free educational program to the residents, the consultants were denied access to the community.
Although the emergency trapping ordinance failed, the council did take some steps toward resolving the problem. It unanimously passed a ban against feeding certain types of wildlife—including deer; directed city staff to work with Villas residents and the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley on a long-term prevention program; and asked that dog-leash signs be posted at nearby parks to prevent off-leash dogs from chasing deer out of the parks into neighborhoods.