pandemic and recent wildfires

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

The pandemic and recent wildfires have brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting undeveloped South Bay lands. Open space is an important resource for everyone in our community, no matter their background or income level. Pandemic lock-downs have taught us all the value of public parks and open space — people yearn to connect to nature after staying indoors. EMS Conference on Oct 1, 2020 discussed how Measure T will ensure that open spaces in Santa Clara Valley stay protected and accessible, and why expanding public access to nature improves public health.

To continue protecting and providing access to open space in our community, the Open Space Authority Board of Directors has voted unanimously to place Measure T on the November 2020 ballot, a renewal of the Measure Q annual parcel tax with no increase.

Measure T would continue until ended by voters. Santa Clara County voters should explore the authority lands before marking their ballots on Measure T, which would make permanent the authority’s $24 parcel tax overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2014.

The tax revenues would provide two-thirds of the authority’s budget and allow it to continue creating and maintaining open space preserves, manage its land and water to reduce wildfires and floods, and protect the land around creeks to prevent pollution and improve water quality, said Shay Franco-Clausen, Open Space Authority.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra has been working relentlessly to protect Coyote Valley by introducing legislation to create a conservation program to oversee the area. For decades the land has been at risk of development as Silicon Valley outgrows its boundaries, said Assemblymember Ash Kalra. 

The authority, which has been active in the Coyote Valley,  “undertake projects to conserve, protect and restore the natural and working land aspects of Coyote Valley and the multiple benefits these lands provide,” said Mr. Kalra. We need to protect these spaces for generations to come, he added. Coyote Valley, which has faced the danger of development constantly through its history, provides San Jose with benefits ranging from agriculture and biodiversity to flood protection and carbon sequestration.

Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, City of San Jose, District 2 supports Measure T and said the authority has done a commendable job in preserving and protecting the open spaces.

The authority was created in 1994 and, by 2014, when Measure Q passed; it was responsible for managing 16,000 acres of protected open space. That number has grown manifolds today, including hillsides, wildlife habitat, farmland and watersheds. The authority has also shown leadership in helping the county complete its agricultural land plan, designed to prevent further loss of farmland.