Spared for now…but not yet preserved. We’re not done!

The Umunhum Conservancy is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Mt. Umunhum and its historic Radar Tower.

November 2019 Update

Important! The tower’s owner will decide on November 20 what repairs to authorize to preserve it.  


The summit of Mt. Umunhum and its historic radar tower are owned by the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District (MidPen).  In May 2016 the tower was declared historic by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. In June of 2016 MidPen adopted the “retain and seal” option for the historic radar tower. They agreed to cease their efforts to demolish the tower. However, no work was actually performed to preserve the tower, and such work has not yet been performed. 

The next step in that process is conducting an engineering analysis of the Tower to determine what specific repairs it requires.  That study is now complete, and the results are available here:

In this very detailed report experts describe what repairs are needed and give several options for each repair. Those options range from short-term fixes that might last 5 or 10 years up to long term repairs that would last as long as 40 years. The report also estimates the cost of each option.

This Wednesday, November 20 2019, the MidPen Board will be asked to vote on the MidPen General Manager’s recommended course of action. MidPen staff’s recommendation to their Board is to implement the recommended long term repairs. While this option will cost the most in the short term, it will also dramatically reduce maintenance costs in the future. The recommended long term repairs will cost the least over the next 20 years when those maintenance costs are included in the calculation.

The Umunhum Conservancy strongly supports the MidPen staff’s recommendations. 

That recommendation is here:

We urge interested members of the general public to let the MidPen Board of Directors know that you support that recommendation as well. You can contact them here:

Umunhum Conservancy Update

The Umunhum Conservancy was founded in 2012 to preserve and protect Mt. Umunhum and its historic radar tower. Since 2016 the Conservancy has been waiting for the completion of this engineering assessment. Now that the required repairs are known, we look forward to their completion.

While primary responsibility for maintaining the tower lies with MidPen, there are opportunities for the Conservancy to provide funds to assist with necessary repairs. We believe that the Conservancy’s role should be to:

  • Provide funds to accelerate the implementation of urgent repairs, and/or to
  • Provide funds to allow repairs to be performed to a higher standard than MidPen would fund alone

Once the MidPen Board approves their General Manager’s recommendation, we look forward to a productive dialog with MidPen management to discuss priorities and see how the Conservancy can best help with funding of repairs.

We expect those discussions will involve several topics:

  • Spending current Conservancy funds on hand, 
  • Potential future fundraising by the Conservancy, and
  • How the Conservancy could assist in securing grant funding from other sources

We welcome the opportunity to sit down with MidPen staff and begin those discussions.

In conclusion, we want to thank everyone in the Bay Area who has helped to protect the historic radar tower to date. We hope this vote on November 20 will begin the next chapter in that effort.

…Sam Drake / President / Umunhum Conservancy

Spared For Now

Not Yet Preserved

We’re Not Done!

Thank You For Your Support!



May 2019 Update

As you know the historic Radar Tower atop Mt. Umunhum has been spared the wrecking ball for now, but it has not yet been preserved. More work remains to make sure that it will be around for the future.  

See our current status here!

May 2018 Update

As you know the historic Radar Tower atop Mt. Umunhum has been spared the wrecking ball for now, but it has not yet been preserved. More work remains to make sure that it will be around for the future.  

In April the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District’s (MidPen) Board of Directors was asked to take the first step towards such preservation, a professional engineering assessment of the Tower’s condition.  At that meeting the Board refused to authorize the assessment.

At their May 9 meeting they once again refused to allow the assessment to be conducted!

Please let the MidPen board know that they must allow an engineering assessment of the Tower to be conducted!  


Phone: 650-691-0485



MidPen’s staff wants to assess the Tower’s condition so that it can be repaired as necessary to achieve these goals:

  • Ensure safe visitor experience near and around the structure
  • Minimize long-term maintenance
  • Provide safe conditions for interior and exterior maintenance

The Umunhum Conservancy agrees that these are an appropriate set of goals for guiding future Tower repairs.

The staff at MidPen has given their board examples of known issues with the Tower that need to be corrected in order to achieve these goals.  What MidPen’s staff does not know is specifically what repairs are required. They have asked the MidPen Board for permission to hire an expert to perform that assessment.

That’s what the MidPen Board has refused to allow, twice.  An inspection to identify needed repairs. Not to perform the repairs, not to pay for the repairs.  They have twice refused to allow an inspection to determine what repairs are necessary!

Their repeated refusal:

  1. Puts the future of the Tower in danger.  The MidPen Board seems to be trying to demolish the Tower “by neglect”, since their earlier attempts to do it “by wrecking ball” were unsuccessful.
  2. Puts the Open Space District itself at risk. MidPen staff has informed their Board of issues that must be addressed. Their Board’s refusal to address them surely makes the District knowingly negligible if those issues cause any future damage or injury to the District’s maintenance staff.

Note that the Umunhum Conservancy has offered to hire a qualified expert to perform an assessment. MidPen has informed the Conservancy that no such outside evaluation will be allowed.

Please let MidPen’s Board know that they must allow an engineering assessment of the Tower’s condition to proceed.  You may contact them via the phone numbers and links above.

To contact the Umunhum Conservancy, see

As always, thank you for your support!

…Sam Drake / President / Umunhum Conservancy


Support from Local Leaders

Numerous local political figures and other community leaders support preserving the Radar Tower atop Mt. Umunhum.  Check out the list, and thank them for their support!