Want to take action on this issue? Use the online form in the “What You Can Do” section of this article.
On Tuesday, March 14, the San Jose City Council will consider whether to take away funding that was committed to improving water quality in Lake Cunningham and instead spend it on construction projects. Please use the form below to tell the City Council not to take away environmental funding from a park located in a low-income community of color!
In 2018, San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved Measure T, a $650M infrastructure bond measure. In a groundbreaking move, $50M of that funding was designated by the City Council for natural flood and water quality protection, focused primarily on Coyote Valley. The 2019 acquisition of 937 acres of open space and farmland in North Coyote Valley for permanent conservation used less than the full $50M, leaving $3.2M unused in the “Environmental and Flood Protection Projects” funding category.
In 2021, the Council unanimously voted to keep that $3.2M dedicated to water quality projects, such as at Lake Cunningham, where the water quality is so bad that swimming and even boating are now prohibited. Then in 2022, the Council considered taking that money away from water quality protection and instead allocating it to construction projects. The Council deferred that vote to 2023, and will finally make the decision on March 14.
Why It Matters
For generations, Lake Cunningham served as one of the primary open space recreation areas for East San Jose. Families who could not afford expensive weekend trips had their own lake, in their own neighborhood, where they could swim, boat, and hold weddings and quinceañeras. But for decades, water quality in Lake Cunningham has been degrading to the point where now, swimming and even boating have been prohibited for health and safety reasons. This is both an environmental disaster and a major inequity inflicted upon a low-income community of color. The $3.2 million in environmental funding will help begin the path to improved water quality.
The vast majority of the $650M in Measure T has already been allocated to infrastructure projects like police and fire stations. Only $50M was dedicated to environmental protection, including in Coyote Valley. This $3.2M – the last remnant of that environmental funding – should be spent on addressing water quality contamination, not shifted to construction projects.
What You Can Do
Please email the City Council and tell them to spend this funding on water quality protection, as they promised, rather than allocating it to construction projects instead.
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