I am honored to serve as the elected representative for Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, San Jose, Los Gatos and Monte Sereno on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Last year proved to be another very busy year. Below are a few highlights of the past 12 months.
I have many more items on my 2019 “to do” list, but first and foremost I want to wish each of you, your friends and families a healthy 2019. It has been a pleasure serving you and I look forward to doing the best I can for you in the years ahead.
New Animal Services Center
Construction of the new center is scheduled to break ground in spring 2019, with a move-in date of mid-2021. The new 37,000-square-foot building on 4.5 acres will replace the current facility in San Martin with an innovative and sustainable building design in a park-like setting. The no-kill center will serve dogs, cats, horses, sheep and much more. It will also be an inviting destination for visitors focused on animal welfare, care, and education and will include a community multi-use room.
Making Magic at Playgrounds
All children deserve a safe and fun place to play, which is why I am proud the county approved $10 million in matching funds for many new all-inclusive playgrounds. Instead of one centrally-located playground, our county will have Magical Bridge Playgrounds in San Jose, Morgan Hill, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto for people with autism, sensory challenges, cognitive developmental, physical disabilities, as well as those without special needs.
Food for Library Fines
As chair of the Santa Clara County Library District, I am proud of the 7,936 patrons who took part in our “Food for Fines” program designed to clear library fines in exchange for food donations to Second Harvest Food Bank. A total of 18 tons of food (30,000 meals) were collected. The popular amnesty program offered card holders the chance to quickly return to good standing and enjoy full borrowing benefits while helping someone in need put food on the table, making this truly a win-win program.
I’m excited to announce the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan, authored by Santa Clara County and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, recently received the distinguished Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Ecosystem and Land Use Stewardship. This collaborative demonstrates what can be accomplished when everyone works together. In addition, we received a Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Grant of $100,000 to initiate a regional Agricultural Conservation Easement purchasing program and several million dollars of funding for specific easements.
Building Schools and Preserving Farmland
The Local Agency Formation Commission works to protect farmland, but rarely are choices ever black-and-white. I was disappointed when a majority of LAFCO Commissioners voted against Morgan Hill’s recent application. I believe the proposed one-for-one acre exchange of conservation easements to protect agricultural land and build a much-needed high school in the area could have been a win-win for those of us who care deeply about both agricultural preservation as well as education.
Housing Homeless Veterans
In collaboration with the city of San Jose, the Housing Authority and Destination: Home, the “All the Way Home” housing effort has resulted in housing for 1,237 local veterans to date. Additionally, the county made our Landlord Incentives Program a permanent resource and increased ongoing funding for supportive housing programs for homeless veterans by $1.8 million annually.
Building Affordable Housing
In November 2016, Santa Clara County voters approved a $950-million Affordable Housing Bond to produce new affordable housing units and to assist first-time home-buyers. It is projected the bond will fund 120 new affordable housing developments in 10 years. Just 18 months into the county’s 10-year plan, more than $234 million in funding has been approved for 19 multi-family housing developments across six cities in Santa Clara County for a total of 1,437 new affordable apartments and 484 renovated apartments.
Ensuring an Accurate Census Count
We are working now to ensure all communities are counted in the 2020 Census. Congressional representation is based on the Census, as are significant amounts of funding; nearly $2,000 per person per year in federal money comes to California based on census-derived data.
Leading in Women’s Equality
The Women’s Equality 2020 Leadership Council was established by the Board of Supervisors in 2018 to assist in the county’s efforts to commemorate and honor the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, help ensure a complete census, broaden electoral participation in 2020, and to advance women’s equality.
Protecting LGBTQ+ Populations
Santa Clara County will become the second county in the nation to provide emergency shelter and a temporary housing program specially for LGBTQ+ residents. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people face a variety of dangers in conventional homeless shelters, which forces them to either conceal their sexual orientation or fend for themselves outdoors. The new program is just one of several services dedicated to the well-being of LGBTQ+ communities in the county.
Saying Goodbye and Hello
The year 2018 marked the end of Supervisor Ken Yeager’s 12-year tenure on the Board of Supervisors. My past eight years on the board with him have been marked by his thoughtful innovation, forward thinking, and respectful discourse. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and extend my warmest welcome to Supervisor Susan Ellenberg.
In addition, supervisors also provided funding for vital services such as dental, vision, and hearing screenings for low-income children, meals for seniors at 16 locations in the county, as well as support for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and intimate partner violence.
I wish you and your family a prosperous and healthy 2019.
Mike Wasserman represents District 1 in the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Visit www.supervisorwasserman.com.
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