Aug 17

Santa Clara County Park Charter Fund

Here in Santa Clara County the County Parks are funded via the Park Charter Fund. Voters have repeatedly approved that a dedicated slice of county tax revenues go directly into the Fund. The Park Charter Fund is used for land acquisitions for county parks as well as maintenance and operation expenses.

For several years certain members of the County Board of Supervisors have been trying to figure out how to divert the Park Charter Fund to purposes other than those that the voters intended. Rather than having it pay for County Parks … typically more rural, less developed and more regionally focused than City Parks … why not use those funds to build playgrounds in new urban developments? Or if a developer builds a shopping center in a wetlands area, maybe use the Park Charter Fund to buy land for a new wetland somewhere else?

These may or may not be good ideas. But they aren’t what the Park Charter Fund was intended for by the voters who approved it. Everyone knows the sort of experience that County Parks provide, and those who voted in favor of the Park Charter Fund reasonably expected those funds to go for that purpose … not swing sets in residential neighborhoods.

The Mercury News correctly describes this as an attempt by the Supervisors to turn the Park Charter Fund into a “slush fund” for anything that they want. Susanne Wilson and Blanca Alvarado, both former Supervisors themselves, say that the Board faces a “critical test of leadership” and needs to keep the Park Charter Fund focused on regional parks as voters intended.

The agenda for this Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was just posted, and as expected the topic of diverting the Park Charter Fund is on the agenda (item 14). The supporting materials are from Page 123 to Page 162 of the “Agenda Packet”. Both the Agenda and the Packet are available here.

The Board has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of staff hours over the past few years trying to come up with some figleaf to justify this diversion, so far unsuccessfully.

Please consider attending THIS TUESDAY’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors to speak against this proposal. I am planning to be there.

In addition, please contact your Supervisor and express your displeasure with the Board’s actions.

Enough is enough. They’ve been trying to do this for years. Tuesday is the time to put an end to it.