Measure Q Would Preserve Open Space in Silicon Valley

Measure Q Would Preserve Open Space in Silicon Valley

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If you are a resident of Santa Clara County and the words “open space” mean more to you than just that available conference room in your office building, then you may have an interest in Measure Q.

Scenic hillsides, wildlife, redwood forests, agricultural lands, and urban open spaces in the Santa Clara Valley, more famously known as Silicon Valley, will be protected and preserved for the next 15 years if two-thirds of Santa Clara voters vote in favor of Measure Q on the November 2014 ballot.

“We want to preserve 16,000 acres of land to help connect people to nature. The proposed measure has 30 high priority projects to protect water resources, parks and trails alongside the Valley. We want the community involved,” said Andrea Mackenzie, general manager of Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (OSA), the organization leading the initiative.

Speaking to a group of ethnic media reporters last week in San Jose, Mackenzie explained that Measure Q is a $24 per parcel tax, expected to raise $120 million over 15 years. “Twenty-five percent of the funds would be allocated to cities, schools and nonprofits so we also would be able to implement outdoor education projects such as floodplain restoration and community gardens,” she added in a press briefing organized by New America Media.

Connecting communities

Potential projects that would be funded by Measure Q around the cities of San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Campbell and Morgan Hill were not designed solely with nature lovers, who love to hike or bike outside city limits, in mind.

As Sergio Jimenez, San Jose Parks and Recreation Commissioner, pointed out, “Some cities like San Jose struggle for money when it has to do with funding trails -- during this administration we wanted to fund 100 miles of trails, but we are just at 50. [Measure Q] will help to develop additional trails connecting communities to public transit stations, and improving the mobility of youth and families.”

Jimenez, who was born in Mexico, emphasized the lack of open space that immigrant communities in the county usually have, given the fact that low-income families are forced to live in smaller spaces.

“Places like the Alum Rock Park or the Guadalupe River have rapidly turned into spaces where Hispanic families gather. We want them to [have] a public space where future generations can be safe and breath fresh air.”

Climate change and drought

Half of all of the drinking water consumed in the Santa Clara Valley comes from groundwater.

Supporters say Measure Q is vital to protecting lands around creeks, streams and rivers to prevent the spread of toxins and pollution, but also to “have open spaces with more access to water, as we can’t predict where more droughts are going to happen,” said Marc Landgraf, external affairs director of Peninsula Open Space Trust, another partner in the initiative.

“Furthermore, as we can’t predict weather in a valley that is growing so fast, we need to preserve the wildlife corridors, so the animals will be able to move from cooler to colder places as needed,” he added.

Supporters

Among the speakers were supporters of Measure Q like Gloria Chun Hoo, president of the League of Women Voters of Santa Clara County and Hg Nguyen, founder of the Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara Valley.

Measure Q has received support from a number of U.S. congress members, California state officials, county supervisors, local education officials, local organizations and business.

According to Landgraf, “We are working with Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, chambers of commerce, realtor associations, [and other business interest] groups. They understand the importance… to the economy. In terms of open space, they recognize the importance of maintaining a vital workforce here, with places for recreation,” he said.

Measure Q includes an independent citizen oversight committee to ensure the funds will be spent as promised.