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The pandemic and recent wildfires have brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting undeveloped South Bay lands. Visitors doubled at Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority preserves following the onset of the coronavirus until smoke forced people back into their homes.
Now that the skies are clearing again, Santa Clara County voters should explore the authority lands before marking their ballots on Measure T, which would make permanent the authority’s $24 parcel tax overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2014.
Then voters should approve Measure T The tax revenues would provide two-thirds of the authority’s budget and allow it to continue creating and maintaining open space preserves, manage its land and water to reduce wildfires and floods, and protect the land around creeks to prevent pollution and improve water quality.
Look at the authority’s past actions for examples of what the future might hold if the tax is made permanent. The authority played a significant role last November in the successful effort to purchase 937 acres needed to preserve Coyote Valley. The value of controlling the strategic section of land becomes more obvious every day. The beautiful corridor running down the western edge of Highway 101 between San Jose and Morgan Hill offers an escape destination for residents and provides a bridge for wildlife crossing from the Diablo Range to the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Our one reservation about Measure T is it includes no sunset clause that would provide accountability and protect voters from potential abuses of their tax dollars.
The authority was created in 1994 and, by 2014, when Measure Q passed, it was responsible for managing 16,000 acres of protected open space. That number has grown to 26,000 acres today, including hillsides, wildlife habitat, farmland and watersheds.The authority also showed leadership in helping the county complete its agricultural land plan, designed to prevent further loss of farm land.
Under General Manager Andrea McKenzie’s leadership, the authority has balanced the desire to preserve additional land with the need to maintain and build on existing property. Some of the priorities for the authority, if Measure T passes, include:
• Preserving an additional 4,000 acres of land and opening 30 miles of trails.
• Realizing the vision for Coyote Valley, establishing trails and protecting against potential flooding and polluting of creeks.
• Opening a new staging area at Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve.
• Expanding access at Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve.
The only formal opposition to Measure T comes from the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association.
Measure T makes permanent Santa Clara County voters’ investment in preserving and protecting open space. Vote yes on the Nov. 3 ballot.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment