The Leader – March 2016

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Parks Inspire: Renew the Park Charter Fund

By Amanda Montez, Housing and Community Development Senior Director

Vasona Lake parkSanta Clara County has protected a portion of general fund dollars for parks and recreation through the Parks Charter Fund since 1972, ensuring the resources to acquire and maintain open space and urban parkland would be unencumbered and dedicated. As the valley has changed, this charter has protected much of its underlying character along with the two open space districts. Unfortunately, this fund took a trim in 2006, reducing the designated reserve from $.015 per $100 of assessed value, to $.01425 per assessed value.

With local population projected to grow by 300,000 people in the next 15 years, parks will have new needs and an increased level of importance in maintaining quality of life and air quality. In the next 10 years the County is projected to need at least $185 million for its parks’ identified capital improvements. It’s time to return the park charter fund to pre-recession levels.

Santa Clara County has an opportunity this June to support a return of those protected funds to $.015 per $100 of assessed value. Returning to this designated reserve level can meet the needs of local parks over the next ten years. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group has a strong history of supporting open space and park measures and we are excited to be endorsing the 2016 Santa Clara County Park Charter Fund Renewal. This renewal would ensure that in July 2017, $57 million in property tax receipts would be deposited in the Park Charter Fund. The first year allocation is expected to generate $5.7 million for acquisition, $5.7 million for development, with the balance available to support operations or to supplement acquisition or development projects. With funds only eligible for use in Santa Clara County, in adherence with the Parks and Recreation Element of the County General Plan and with a Supervisorial vote required for acquisitions, it’s a highly accountable use of government funds.

The Santa Clara County Parks Department currently owns 12,000 acres of parkland that have not yet been opened to the public. The department’s ten-year financial projection recommends funding approximately $40 million for high visibility, high priority projects designed to open new lands for public access, expand the network of trails, and improve visitor amenities. This is an opportunity for investment in new adventures. From majestic redwood trees to neighborhood playgrounds, our parks inspire us. With improvements ranging from ADA compliance for picnic areas to WiFi in urban parks, this will build out a park system that serves the needs of current and future County residents of all ages and backgrounds. If you want to learn more about how you can join the Leadership Group in supporting the Charter Fund Renewal, visit yesonparks.com.

 

Heart & Soles: Providing More Nutritious School Lunches

By Paul Escobar, 1000 Hearts for 1000 Minds Senior Associate

Race start line 2015More than 97,000 Silicon Valley K-12 students have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation’s “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative. This initiative – in partnership with State Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s Team California for Healthy Kids and in support of the national “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools effort by First Lady Michelle Obama – encourages healthy eating habits, helps reduce obesity and promotes overall health that will make kids better learners.

When Superintendent Torlakson first approached the Leadership Group Foundation to assist with the salad bars program, the goal was to place 350 salad bars statewide, 30 of which would be in Silicon Valley. In only the first two years of this effort, the Leadership Group Foundation funded 122 salad bars for local Silicon Valley schools, with a special focus on schools in low-income and under-resourced communities. You can help fund additional salad bars in 70 local schools by registering for our Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run or walk next Saturday, March 12, at Lake Cunningham Park in San Jose.

To celebrate the success of the “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative and the Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” race, the Leadership Group Foundation recently sent 500 letters to First Lady Michelle Obama from students representing the schools receiving a salad bar this year. In their letters, the students thank the First Lady for her “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” program and her commitment to improving their health.

As the Leadership Group Foundation enters its third and final year of the “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative, the Foundation has set the ambitious goal of funding an additional 70 salad bars serving at least another 50,000 students from local Silicon Valley schools.

Funding for salad bars, which cost $3100 per unit, comes from registration fees and member company sponsorships at the Leadership Group Foundation’s annual Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” race as well as from private donations. Title sponsor Lam Research, The Health Trust, Santa Clara County Office of Education, the City of San Jose and United Fresh Start Foundation have been key local partners in making this program the success that it is.