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Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission joins fight against proposed Gilroy quarry

Hillside in Gilroy, California.
Hillside in Gilroy, California.

The Commission threw its support behind the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band by a unanimous vote last Thursday, calling the proposed mine a“critical human rights issue.”

Sargent Ranch Partners LLC is currently seeking county approval for a sand and gravel mine on a privately-owned plot of land near Gilroy. The planned construction site notably falls within Juristac, a sacred land area containing numerous ceremonial and cultural sites used by the Amah Mutsun ancestors for millennia.

Opponents of the mine say it will permanently destroy the impacted land and violate the rights of the Amah Mutsun to exercise freedom of religion and cultural expression. Indigenous organizers have led local protests and national advocacy since the county review process began four years ago.

Thursday’s Commission vote is a historic show of support. In an interview with the San Jose Spotlight, Commission Chairperson Bryan Franzen said he could not recall any other attempts to deny a county permit since the Commission’s founding in 2018. Local conservationist groups, like the Palo-Alto-based Green Foothills, have added that the mine could harm vulnerable animal populations, such as central coast mountain lions.

Later this month, the County will release a comprehensive environmental impact report and cultural ethnographic assessment for the project to further inform the permit approval process.

I am a researcher and writer from Oakland, CA. I cut my teeth in radio at my college station and since graduating, I’ve worked as a paralegal, arts administrator, maritime historian, and most recently, a fellow at WorldAffairs, a global politics radio show and podcast co-produced with KQED. In my work, I am interested in the intersections of race, climate, and labor rights as well as place-based narratives of marginalization and the relationship between local history, public space, and identity formation, especially among queer and BIPOC communities. I am also passionate about drawing on the performing arts—particularly theater and music—to develop interview/storytelling practices grounded in mutual repair and community-building.
Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.