Cuesta Annex, next to Cuesta Park in Mountain View, is a remnant piece of open space that was once slated for residential development but was acquired by the City and kept as open space for the past 20 years. The vegetation on the site is a mix of some native plants, such as coast live oak and Engelmann’s oak, and some non-native plants, such as black walnuts, plums, almonds and dominant invasive Eurasian grasses. It contains remnants of the original orchards that were planted here up to a century ago. There are some 100-year-old prune trees in the Annex, which pre-date the apricot orchards for which the Santa Clara Valley became famous.
Cuesta Annex is now slated to be torn up and turned into a 4.5-acre flood control basin (it is only about 750 feet from Permanente Creek). To say the populace is up in arms is putting it mildly. On Sunday D. and I went there to see the place for ourselves. Here's some of the pics I took.
The Annex. In the distance we see Black Mountain, from which Mountain View got its name.
The place is full of milk thistles. Here's one with a big poofy seed puff.
Here's a milk thistle still in blossom.
The grassy field hosts scores of swallows, feasting on bugs.
Lots of grass and thistles, with a dead fruit tree, a remnant of the original orchard.
An ancient plum tree, with ripening fruit and some freakishly tall milk thistle seed puffs.
Most of the grass is taller than I am.
The residential neighborhood across the street can barely be seen through the grass.
Some of the ancient oak trees in the Annex.
The boughs of a huge walnut tree envelop a section of the path.
A developing walnut.
Special pavilion for the smokers of St. Francis High School, which shares a boundary with the Annex.
No burgers allowed at this bench in adjacent Cuesta Park. Fine by me.
Needless to say, I do not want to see Cuesta Annex torn up. I am in favor of flood control (I live half a block from Permanente Creek), and funding for this project was approved by voters 10 years ago. But the plan consists of several new flood control basins to be built along Permanente Creek, not just the one planned for the Annex, as well as new floodwalls along one section close to the Bay and replacing other concrete channel sections with wider and deeper channels.
Many people feel a basin up to 23 feet deep in the Annex would ruin a pristine piece of nature, and I agree. The Santa Clara Valley Water District board approved the EIR last week, though, in spite of bitter vocal opposition. I anticipate a heated public battle in the months to come.