Martial Cottle Park Project


A collaborative planning project between California State Parks and Santa Clara County Parks

Plan Documents | CEQA​ | Life Estate Plan


In 2007, the County of Santa Clara Parks Department began the planning process for the Martial Cottle Park Master Plan (Plan). The Plan is a combined State Park General Plan and Master Plan document that the County Parks Department worked with the Donor, California State Parks, major stakeholders, residents, and community members and Commissioners to fulfill the grant deed and the Donor’s Vision for a public historic agricultural park at Martial Cottle Park.

The Plan was approved by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on February 8, 2011, and by California State Parks at their Commission hearing on March 2, 2011. The Plan is available here.  

Considered to be one of the few remnants of the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" in Santa Clara Valley, the Park has been continuously farmed by the Cottle and Lester families for nearly 150 years, from 1864 to the present. Consistent with the Donor's Vision, the park is a public historic agricultural park, educational facility and working farm that promotes and sustains farming traditions for the residents and visitors of Santa Clara County.

Background of Martial Cottle Park Property

On October 28, 2003, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors executed an agreement with Mr. Walter Cottle Lester for the acceptance of 151 acres that Mr. Lester and the Estate of Ms. Edith E. Lester donated to the County.  In addition, Mr. Lester sold 136.52 acres to the State and retained 32 acres as part of his Life Estate area. 

As part of the deed restrictions, the property shall be exclusively used as a public historical park that informs and educates the public about the agricultural heritage of Santa Clara Valley, as exemplified by the Martial Cottle family, dating from the 1850s into the 20th century.  The property may be used for passive recreational activities such as picnic facilities, trails, and other low intensity uses that may be incidental to the primary historic and educational purposes of the park, and for interpretative, passive recreational, agricultural education and research and commercial uses that are reasonably related to the history of farming in the Santa Clara Valley. 

The vision for the Park is that it be jointly developed, operated and maintained as a County/ State park in a manner that will show and display the agricultural heritage of Santa Clara County in the early 1900s. The Donor’s Vision served as the foundation for the joint County-State planning framework and public outreach process. 


Martial Cottle Park (Park) is located at 5283 Snell Ave, in South San Jose and is bounded by Branham Lane, Snell Avenue, and Chynoweth Avenue. This 287.5-acre park offers hiking and biking on multi-use trails as well as year-round picnicking opportunities.

Goals of the Planning Process

The Master Plan is a guiding document that presents a series of development, management and design recommendations for the Park. 

The development of the Plan was guided by the following goals:

  • Provide for a range of passive recreation opportunities that complement the vision of a historic agricultural park and are consistent with the property’s deed restrictions.
  • Preserve and enhance the park as a functioning farm that supports sustainable and multi-faceted agriculture that includes educational and community-serving components and commercial concessions consistent with the Donor’s Vision. 
  • Provide educational opportunities for a broad cross-section of the public that addresses the agricultural and historical themes of the park.
  • Preserve and enhance natural resources within the park consistent with the park’s primary mission to provide for agriculture and passive recreation.
  • Protect and enhance the park’s visual character while preserving high-quality scenic vistas provided from within the park.
  • Develop and locate park uses to be responsive to the site’s resources while being sensitive to the park’s urban context and the potential for conflict with adjacent uses.
  • Provide safe and convenient access to the park for a wide range of users.


Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

​In compliance with State CEQA Guidelines, the County Parks and Recreation Department prepared an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to assess the plan’s possible impacts to the environment and a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP) to ensure the County’s compliance with the adopted mitigation measures during the project implementation.

The Final EIR was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on February 8, 2011, and is available here

The Department filed a Notice of Determination with the County of Santa Clara Office of the Clerk-Recorder on February 14, 2011

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