Iconic Tilton Ranch is for sale

The remaining acres of the iconic Tilton Ranch in the foothills northwest of Morgan Hill is for sale, for $20 million.

The four parcels of undeveloped ranch land next to the Coyote Creek Open Space Preserve were advertised earlier this month by Hall and Hall, a national real estate firm specializing in ranch land.

The property is zoned for single-family residential use, which means it could open up the scenic east-facing hills to housing developers. Aware of that, preservationists — including the Nature Conservancy and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority— already are discussing ways of purchasing sections to extend the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve.

One hundred years ago, the Tilton family had been ranching nearly 30,000 acres east of Gilroy when it began downsizing and moved their family ranch northwest of Morgan Hill.

The Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, which opened in 2015, was created out of a 348-acre purchase of a northern parcel of the Tilton Ranch.

Fifteen years earlier, the city of San Jose had adopted a master plan for 25,000 homes to be built in the Coyote Valley, but those plans were dashed by the Great Recession and a shifting tech economy.

The real estate firm describes the Tilton Ranch as “a single block of 1,860 acres of mostly undeveloped ranchland, lying 20 miles south of Silicon Valley’s San Jose city center. Its four legal parcels in Santa Clara County are zoned for Single Family Residential.”

The land is perched on the east slope of Rancho Las Uvas, between Chesbro, Anderson, Calero and Uvas reservoirs, with a dramatic view of the southern Santa Clara Valley from the northwest corner of the city of Morgan Hill.

“This is classic California, with rolling hills of grass, studded with oak trees, brushy draws, and numerous water springs,” the realtors gush in their new sales brochure.

The property’s four legal parcels are currently enrolled in the Williamson Act, which provides relief of property tax to owners of farmland and open-space land in exchange the land will not be developed or otherwise converted to another use for 10 years.

It is unimproved except for its haylands and a 60-acre lease to the Coyote Valley Sporting Clays course, secluded at the head of San Bruno Canyon.

The ranch starts at 315 feet in elevation on its eastern border, along Hale Avenue, and extends up to 1,145 feet on top of Laurel Hill, on its western boundary.

To the north is Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve. To the west lie thousands of acres of private and state ranches, forest and park, stretching 15 miles through the Santa Cruz Mountains, over Loma Prieta, and constituting a special wildlife corridor.

The ranch’s southern border are rolling hills of bunchgrass, which offer a protected habitat of the endangered Bay Checkerspot butterfly.

“Tilton Ranch is an important property with respect to the Santa Clara Valley’s working lands and lies within one of our highest priority conservation areas,” said Alisha Maniglia, communications specialist for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

“It lies within Coyote Valley, where conservation is crucial for the preservation of prime farmland and to maintain a critical linkage between mountain ranges for wildlife and habitat for endangered species.”

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