A popular, privately-owned park in Milpitas is still being shut down by Santa Clara County despite the ongoing efforts of the owner to get it back open. The 360 acres of land at 3215 Calaveras Road is known as ‘The Dragon Mountain,’ or Thiên Long Sơn. As San Jose Spotlight explains, the unsanctioned park was opened in 2014 by Keith Ngo, who designed it to allow people to celebrate Vietnamese culture while spending time outside picnicking, hiking, and enjoying the views of Silicon Valley. The park is loaded with religious statues and other figures representing Vietnamese history. “We have many residents come up here for lunch or after work. On the weekends, some stay for the whole day. Not only Vietnamese people, but people from all walks of life come up here,” Ngo told San José Spotlight.
The park was ordered to shut down in early 2019 due to building and land-use permit violations. Ngo says Santa Clara County is slapping him with one thousand dollar fines each day and has turned off electricity to the property. Ngo says he has worked to get the right permits and make the corrections needed but says the county is not doing anything to help him get the park back open. “When we asked to meet, they wouldn’t even respond. When we came up with an abatement plan, they came back with even more issues. I don’t know what to do,” Ngo told San Jose Spotlight.
Ngo says he hired a team of consultants and attorneys to help him fix the violations. They submitted a plan of action to the county in June of 2020 but Ngo says the county came back a few months later with more than 70 new problems including environmental reviews. “I don’t understand why they didn’t specify these in the first place. There’s always something else,” Ngo told San Jose Spotlight. This past June, Ngo’s team submitted an abatement plan that was much more comprehensive but they haven’t heard back yet from the county.
Supervisor Otto Lee represents the area of The Dragon Mountain and says he doesn’t know anything about the violations. “I’ll look into this but generally I expect the county to allow property owners one chance or two chances to fix the issues before shutting down a place,” Lee told San José Spotlight.
Ngo says he feels bad that the community can’t enjoy The Dragon Mountain. “We all want to see this up and running again. When that will be?’ I don’t know. The ball is in the county’s court. I’m not asking for donations or any political support. I want a place where people could come be with nature and find tranquility,” Ngo told San Jose Spotlight.
The situation sounds a bit like the Flintstones House controversy in Hillsborough, which was resolved earlier this year with the owner getting retroactive approvals for her statuary and property improvements. Though, in that case, the home is publicly visible but not accessible to the public.