Potential South Bay ranch sale means uncertain future for more than 50 horses

More than 50 horses on a South Bay ranch face an uncertain future. 

This, after Santa Clara County officials have expressed interest in buying the land and stables which house the animals, but are not necessarily committing to keeping the horses. That has some residents pushing for a solution that benefits people and the animals.

Nestled near the hills near Calero County Park in San Jose is an equestrian oasis. Manager Jan Kearny has worked at the Lake View Stables for 20 years. It’s 135-acres of open space for dozens of horses to call home.

“It’s one of the last few big ranches around here,” said Kearny, as she petting a 17-year-old gelding named Lucky.

Customer Jessica Colling relishes the opportunity to ride her 10-year-old mare, “Dixie,” not far from the hustle-and-bustle of Silicon Valley life.  Then, the animal can be left to graze the landscape.

“They get to go up and over the hill, graze naturally, and then they also get fed hay. So, she loves it,” said Colling.

Lake View used to have upwards of 70 horses. But that number has dropped over the past few months, down to about 50 or 60. Because a lot of owners are hearing the whispers that the county may buy this property and then get rid of the stables.

“It would provide a valuable trail connection between Calero County Park and Santa Teresa County Park….Both have horseback riding allowed in them. And so we’d make that trail connection and allow a better user experience,” said Tamara Clark, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Dept. of Parks & Recreation.

But using Lake View to bridge the divide between the two parks would mean removing existing buildings – including the stables, which are in disrepair. At least two have been red tagged, and reversing this acute aging isn’t fiscally feasible, according to county officials.

“The study that we found, or that we did, it’s nine-to-15 million (dollars) to code, to the county standard,” said Clark.

An online petition has started to save the stables from demise, and some elected leaders are calling for other options, instead of the ax.

“The county should look at all the available options and listen to the public to see if something can be done,” said San Jose District 10 councilman Johnny Khamis, whose district encompasses the stables.

Some customers say the private sector could produce a savior.

“We don’t need anything fancy. So we’re happy to fundraise and do what we need to get the buildings repaired,” said Colling.

The sale is still in the planning phase, but if it becomes reality, these horses may be living their last best life.