Support Santa Clara County Parks: Vote Yes on Measure A
By Eli Zigas, Food & Agriculture Policy Director
April 5, 2016
Santa Teresa Park in Santa Clara County.  Photo by Flickr user Don Debold.

Santa Teresa Park in Santa Clara County.  Photo by Flickr user Don Debold.

This June, voters in San Jose and throughout Santa Clara County will be asked to modestly increase the portion of the county general fund dedicated to parks. The ballot question — known as Measure A — would update the Park Charter Fund. The measure is not a tax. Instead, it changes the percentage of the county budget that automatically gets allocated for the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department. SPUR has endorsed this measure because we believe it will help:

  1. Focus growth inside existing urban areas by supporting greenbelt land acquisition, and
  2. Support a vibrant urban quality of life by ensuring that parks both within and near to cities are adequately funded   

County voters first adopted the Park Charter Fund set-aside in 1972 and this amendment is the latest in a series of periodic changes to the funding formula since then. The measure — which was added to the county ballot by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors — would make a few modest changes, summarized in the table below. The current amount of funding set aside for county parks from the county general fund (approximately $54 million annually) is based on a calculation of 1.425 cents of each $100 in assessed value of property in the county. The measure would raise the set aside to 1.5 cents of each $100 in assessed value, increasing the set-aside by approximately $3 million, to $57 million annually. This increase would restore the set aside to the level it last had in 2001.

Additionally, the measure would increase the percent of the set aside dedicated to capital projects — things like new trails, restroom construction, covered picnic areas and improving accessibility for disabled residents — by 5 percent.  The measure would offset this increase by reducing the percent dedicated to acquiring land for new parks by the same amount. But because property values have risen and the overall set aside would increase, the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department estimates that the total amount set aside for purchasing land will increase in absolute dollar terms in the coming decade compared to the previous decade, even with the change in the allocations.

 

Park Charter Fund Specifications

Today

If Measure Passes

Set-aside formula

1.425 cents / $100 in assessed value

1.5 cents / $100 in assessed value

Acquisition

15%

10%

Capital

5%

10%

Operations and Maintenance (Unrestricted)

80%

80%

 

The County Parks and Recreation Department, with support of the county executive, is seeking these changes because funding has not kept pace with the park system’s expansion. The current amount of funding dedicated to providing amenities in the parks — such as trails, visitor centers and park infrastructure — does not match the projected costs in the coming decade. A strong parks system is critical to a strong greenbelt and to maintaining a high quality of life in San Jose and throughout the county. For voters in Santa Clara County, SPUR recommends a “Yes” vote on Measure A.

Read the full text of the measure >>

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