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November 2020

Open Space Authority’s Measure T Approved by Voters

Measure T PASS FB post

We are excited to announce that Measure T, the Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, Clean Water, and Increased Public Access Measure, has been passed by 81% of voters and has secured funding for the Open Space Authority to protect open spaces for future generations. Thanks to you, the voters, we can renew our commitment to investing in nature in communities and providing Santa Clara Valley residents with more equitable access to nature while stewarding our beautiful open spaces forever.

Measure T renews the Authority’s Measure Q, an annual $24 parcel tax overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2014. This funding, which generates approximately $8 million each year, has been integral to the Authority’s work. Guided by the Santa Clara Valley Greenprint, a 30-year strategic plan to preserve the most important open space lands and natural resources remaining in the County, Measure Q has helped us improve parks, open spaces, and trails; protect local water supply and wildlife habitat; provide equitable public access to nature, including in the urban core; enhance environmental education for the community; support sustainable agriculture, and much more. From our work in Coyote Valley, to our nearly $3M in urban grants given to community projects, we’ve seen an incredible return on investment from this parcel tax in benefits to the public. Measure Q also funded the Authority’s Understanding Our Community reports, a two-phase initiative to help the Authority better understand the communities it serves, and where investment is most needed.

Looking ahead, Measure T will provide ongoing funding to support the protection of open space, wildlife habitat, water resources and local farmland, operation and management of the Authority’s growing system of open space preserves, and provide additional and more equitable access to nature for the diverse communities within the Authority’s jurisdiction. Some of these projects are already underway, such as the North Coyote Valley Conservation Area Master Plan that will include significant public engagement, as well as multiple public access projects, like at Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve and the Blair Ranch at Rancho Cañada Del Oro Open Space Preserve. This funding will also help us manage and steward over 28,000 acres of open space to benefit wildlife, our communities, and the planet.

“Now more than ever, the protection of nature in and near our urban communities is vital for public health and building resilience to climate change. During COVID-19, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in visitation at our open space preserves,” said Andrea Mackenzie, Open Space Authority General Manager. “The voters have made clear that they consider access to parks and open space essential to their physical and mental health.”

Protecting open spaces and nature is crucial for the numerous benefits it provides, whether it be physical or mental wellbeing for visitors, wildlife habitat and watershed protection, or building resilience to climate change. Thanks to the voters, we can continue this investment and work to further improve our ability to protect the natural integrity of the Santa Clara Valley while providing access to nature for future generations.

Frantoio Grove Protected through Agricultural Conservation Easement

In the San Martin region of Santa Clara County sits Frantoio Grove, a family-owned and operated specialty olive oil company that just turned 15 years old. The 30-acre grove is part of a roughly 97-acre property that is now permanently protected through an Agricultural Conservation Easement (ACE). The land, initially anticipated to become a subdivision development, will now remain productive farmland and protected from development.

OSA_Martin-35 (1)Owned by the Martin family since 1980, 30 acres of the property became an olive grove in 2005 when Jeff Martin, owner and operator, saw the potential of the land. “My dad acquired the land years back, and my son will soon be taking the reins," he says. "This acquisition provides us some security and a lot of opportunity – this gives us the potential to expand or diversify.”

The Authority acquired the ACE with a $2,973,750 grant from the California Strategic Growth Council, California Climate Investments, and California Department of Conservation’s Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program (SALC), created to support agricultural practices in the state and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by preventing the conversion of farmland into development. The transaction also leverages $991,250 of funding allocated to the Authority by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. This purchase is part of the State’s, County’s, and Authority’s larger goal to protect sustainable agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley. 

This easement is part of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan, partly funded by the SALC Program. This property provides a variety of environmental benefits and considerable agricultural value, including flood protection, groundwater recharge, and valuable habitat for species.

Read more about this win for agriculture and open space here.

Gratitude for Open Space

SVIS - Family - Apurva H.P. - 2020-08-16-1With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is as good a time as any to take a minute to reflect on everything we have to be grateful for, whether it’s nature or family, food or shelter, or simply the air we breathe. To celebrate the season of gratitude, we asked our staff to share what they’re grateful for and what makes them excited to work at the Open Space Authority.

“I’m grateful for the small role that I get to play in the preservation and conservation of our open spaces,” said Caroline Hernandez, the Authority’s Deputy Clerk of the Board. Her favorite thing about working at the Authority is the opportunity to merge her passion for the outdoors and conservation with her career in governance.

Galli Basson, our Resource Management Specialist, is appreciative of her time at the Authority, too. “I’m grateful that I get to restore rivers and creeks, like the one behind me,” she reflected while on the Authority’s Pajaro River Agricultural Preserve. “Partnering with colleagues in other agencies, planning for and seeing uplift and change on the landscape for wildlife, and when possible incorporating activities with kids,” she reflects. “I really enjoy restoration projects – all aspects.”

All of us at the Open Space Authority are honored to protect the open spaces that make the Santa Clara Valley so special, and so important, and we are grateful to you, the residents of Santa Clara Valley, that this is something we get to continue working on.

Hear from more staff members in the first of our 4-part video series, and read the whole article here.

Community Connections: Jacky Rivera

Jacky Rivera - LMV Website-1-1

Community Connections highlights the many leaders, partners, and neighbors who make a difference in our community. This month we are featuring Jacky Rivera, Organizing Manager for Sacred Heart Community Service’s La Mesa Verde program.

Even for someone who has worked for years to solve problems in our food system and promote more equitable access to healthy and affordable food, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on our food supply was a shock.

“We’ve become especially aware of how fragile our food system is,” says Jacky Rivera, Organizing Manager of Sacred Heart Community Service’s La Mesa Verde, home garden education program. “Like everyone, I was surprised by what I saw in the grocery store with empty shelves. Now, more than ever, the need is here.”

La Mesa Verde began in 2009 as a way to promote a sustainable source of fresh food for participants who live in neighborhoods where fresh food is unavailable or too expensive. They provide supplies for participants to set up raised garden beds, monthly garden education courses, and gardening mentors. The program has been funded in part by the Open Space Authority and was just awarded a new grant in this year's cycle of the Authority’s Urban Grant Program.

Rivera joined La Mesa Verde 2013 as a member of the Silicon Valley Health Corps. “I grew up in an agricultural area, near the strawberry fields of Ventura County, but I never really learned anything about gardening or how to grow my own food”, Rivera said. “I always felt disconnected from it, unlike my friends whose parents worked in agriculture and joined them sometimes in the fields.”

After studying nutritional science and public health in college, Rivera was drawn to the position at Sacred Heart Community Services for the opportunity to work with community members on a variety of related issues, from food access to affordable housing.

“La Mesa Verde helped me reconnect to food and the land,” she says.

Read more about Rivera's inspiring story here.

Who Am I?

RCAN - Western Fence Lizard- - D-mauk - May-27-2018 - 2 - sized-1

I am a small lizard commonly spotted all across the Santa Clara Valley – including neighborhoods and urban areas! You can find me standing on top of rocks, boulders, fences, walls, beach driftwood, trees, and sidewalks. Males of my species are often observed doing push-up like displays to defend our territories and to attract females. Who am I?

Participate in Ridge Trail Month and the Ridge Trail Challenge!

SVIS - Landscape - D.Neumann - 12-12-2017 - 7-1

The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council has TWO exciting campaigns to connect people with local open space this fall.

November 2020 is Ridge Trail Month, a COVID-friendly spin on the Bay Area Ridge Trail's annual volunteer trail work event. Participate in a DIY trail care project during November and win prizes!

Ridge Trail Month

The 2020 Ridge Trail Challenge is on! Complete 5 of 33 trails between now and December 31, and get entered to win the ultimate trail prize pack.

Ridge Trail Challenge

Opt Outside and Hike Your Pie Off!

RCAN - Turkeys - D.N - AUG-11-2010

Friday, November 27
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve

The Friday after Thanksgiving, the Open Space Authority is hosting an Opt Outside event, a self-guided family day in nature for you to appreciate time with your loved ones or enjoy a much-needed outdoor experience. Come to the preserve and hike your pie off, or enjoy games, activities, and challenges that you and your family can participate in together. From self-guided birding to a variety of photography challenges, there will be no shortage of opportunities for family fun.

This will be a safe, socially-distanced, and self-guided event! Register to receive a guide to the day's suggested activities!


Volunteer Opportunity! 
Apply for the Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee

SVIS - Ground Squirrels - D.Mauk - 2020-06-30 - 2

Do you love nature and numbers? Do you believe open space lands are essential to community health and well-being? If so, the Measure Q Expenditure Oversight Committee might be the perfect volunteer role for you!

This seven-member committee provides public oversight for all funds collected and allocated by Measure Q. Each member contributes unique talents including an understanding of budgets and audit reports.

Learn More

Who Am I? Answer

RCAN - Western Fence Lizard. - D.mauk - May-27-2018 - 2 - sized

I am the Western Fence Lizard, one of the most commonly-seen lizards in California. I have brownish or grayish scales patterned with spots and stripes on my back and bits of blue on my belly. My tail can detach to allow for escape from predators - but don’t worry, it will grow back! I am easy to spot on warm days but very skittish when approached.

Photo Credits

Measure T Coyote Valley - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Frantoio Grove - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Sierra Vista Hikers - Apurva Hp
Jacky Rivera - Sacred Heart Community Services: La Mesa Verde
Western Fence Lizard - David Mauk, Authority Staff
Sierra Vista Bay Area Ridge Trail - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Wild Turkeys at Rancho Cañada del Oro  - Derek Neumann, Authority Staff
Sierra Vista Squirrels - David Mauk, Authority Staff

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority | 408.224.7476 |