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Santa Clara County receives tax benefits

The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority plans to begin 15 projects across Santa Clara County from the recent funding. General manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Andrea Mackenzie awarded $1.5 million made up of an open space tax approved by voters.

The fifteen projects include urban gardens, new trails, neighborhood park improvements and programs to educate students from low-income neighborhoods about the outdoors. Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority is a public agency from San Jose that has preserved 20,000 acres of open space since 1993.

“There are a lot of people in Santa Clara County, especially in the cities, who don’t have access to parks and open space,” Mackenzie said. “A lot of people want more community gardens and urban farms.”

On Nov. 10, the agency finalized the upcoming projects they plan to pursue. The urban environmental project ideas were submitted by community groups, schools, cities and the remainder of the county. Through these proposals, the agency hosted public meetings with feedback from a citizens advisory panel and received 27 different requests asking for a total of $3.3 million.

In November 2014, Measure Q passed with 68 percent of the vote in the Santa Clara County. Measure Q aims to fund $120 million within the subsequent 15 years through an annual $24 parcel tax. The measure instructs that up to 25 percent of the funds are spent on parks and environmental activity to improve community areas and preserve the land from urban sprawl. This means that the measure will collect up to $30 million by 2029.

The measure will be implemented in San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, Milpitas and Morgan Hill. The new investments amounting to $2.6 million, with a new grant being awarded every fall.

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s primary goal is to protect environmental spaces by purchasing development rights on farms to keep agriculture alive in the county. The majority of the preserves are based in rural areas, such as the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Since the vote, the agency has decided to spend the funds on counties closer to where the majority of the voters live.

“We cannot make everything industrial, there needs to be a place that is not a skyscraper,” senior Ryan Chang said. “I think areas will be improved if there are more parks because there will be more places for people to hang out and more environmental places.”

According to the San Jose Mercury, the upcoming projects include: $24,987 for the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, $250,000 towards Latinos United for a New America for Nuestro Lugar, $40,000 for Bay Area Wilderness Training, $248,001 for the city of Morgan Hill to expand the community garden, $34,500 for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, $48,829 for the city of Campbell for the Nido Neighborhood Reforestation program, $132,353 for Friends of Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County to raise for the Martial Cottle Park in San Jose and $76,703 for the Coyote Meadows Coalition.

“The goal is to connect people to nature where they live, so they don’t have to get into their cars,” said Mackenzie.

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