Column: Rep. Honda drawn into tribal recognition mess
"On Highway 101 south of Gilroy, not far from the Pajaro River, a gently curving overpass lifts traffic above the railroad tracks as an expanse of land opens to the west — the 6,500-acre Sargent Ranch.

Few tracts in Santa Clara County have ignited more controversy for a longer time than this land, which the Amah Mutsun Indians claim as their ancestral homestead.

The story shows how a fight between a small group of people can have huge repercussions — and how a well-meaning congressman, U.S. Rep Mike Honda, was sucked into it. In this one, Honda, D-San Jose, can't quite escape the label of being too trusting.

The plans to develop the Sargent Ranch for as many as 137 luxury homes and two golf courses were always ugly for the environment. They broke virtually every county planning covenant and would have hurried the sprawl of building southward from Gilroy.

That's one reason why the owner of the ranch, La Jolla-based Wayne Pierce, sought to bypass county planning regulations by forming a partnership with the Amah Mutsun tribe, a deal that sought to develop the land under looser federal rules."

Get the Story:
Scott Herhold: Rep. Mike Honda gulled in tribal dispute (The San Jose Mercury News 1/10)