Ever since the Santa Clara County Parks Charter Fund was first authorized by the voters in 1972, the County’s policy has been that the Fund may only be used for parks and trails “of countywide significance” (i.e. which have the potential to benefit residents throughout the county). Examples of County parks and trails are Rancho San Antonio, Los Gatos Creek Trail, and the Sunnyvale Baylands. The Charter Fund had never been used to fund small neighborhood parks or playgrounds in urban unincorporated areas.
However, in 2011 the County Board of Supervisors began consideration of a change in this policy. Committee for Green Foothills, along with other open space organizations, proposed a compromise solution to the Board of Supervisors that would prioritize funding for trails of countywide significance that are located in parks-deficient urban areas, thus both preserving the integrity of the Parks Charter Fund and addressing the problem of lack of park facilities in some unincorporated urban areas. In 2012, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the environmental groups’ solution.
When the Parks Charter Fund came up for reauthorization in 2016, we supported the Yes on Parks campaign. The Charter Fund was approved with over 2/3 of the vote, proving once again that Bay Area residents love their parks.