After eight years of work with five other government agencies, the San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted 10-1 to adopt a Habitat Conservation Plan that attempts to balance conservation and construction in Santa Clara County over the next five decades.

Only City Councilman Pete Constant was opposed, saying he thought all of the cities in the county should have been able to participate in the plan.

More than a dozen speakers representing a wide-range of often conflicting interests -- from environmentalists to developers -- spoke in favor of the plan, as amended by Mayor Chuck Reed, with almost all of them agreeing the city should waste no time in implementing it as soon as possible.

San Jose was the last of six governmental agencies in the county to take up the plan, which will affect 506,000 acres, almost 60 percent of the county, and raise $665 million, mostly from developer fees, government agencies, state and federal grants and private donations.

The plan seeks to prevent 18 threatened local plant and animal species from going extinct, including the Bay checkerspot butterfly, California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog and Western burrowing owl.

Supporters say it will help ensure that money developers already must provide to offset the damage they do to endangered species will be spent in a more efficient way, with less federal involvement rather than on a project-by-project basis with a lot more red tape. Local agencies and cities would collect the fees to buy and restore nearby lands to help boost endangered species populations.


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While the five other entities approved the plan in the fall, San Jose's decision was halted by Reed who was concerned that development in San Jose would be hurt if the city agreed to the proposal when other cities nearby wouldn't be held to its stricter standards. But his concerns were ultimately addressed by federal and state officials, satisfying Reed, most of the council members, as well as other key stakeholders.

In addition to San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Valley Transportation Authority worked on the project. All five will need to review San Jose's amendments.

-- Tracy Seipel, Mercury News