Decisions set stage for 2019

Here are a few highlights in Santa Clara County government in 2018.

New Animal Services Center Coming. 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. 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 Our Playgrounds. Children of all abilities deserve a safe and fun place to play, which is why the county approved $10 million in matching funds for many new all-inclusive playgrounds. Magical Bridge Playgrounds provide fun for people with autism, sensory challenges, cognitive developmental, physical disabilities, as well as those without special needs. In addition, the county supervisors just approved several more playgrounds including one at Lake Almaden.

Exchanging Food for Library Fines. As chair of the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD), 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) was collected. The popular amnesty program offered SCCLD library cardholders the chance to quickly return to good standing while helping someone in need, making this truly a win-win program.

Preserving Hospital Services. I have been concerned about access to health care in South County since the Daughters of Charity announced plans to sell St. Louise Regional Hospital (and other facilities) in 2014. The new owners filed bankruptcy in 2018, and despite the County being the only bidder to purchase and run the hospitals, the state Attorney General is attempting to block the sale, a move that would effectively close the hospitals. My colleagues and I are fighting to keep the hospitals open.

Preserving Agriculture. The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan recently received the distinguished Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Ecosystem and Land Use Stewardship. In addition, we just 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. LAFCO (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.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 and education.

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 homebuyers. It is projected that the housing bond will fund 120 new affordable housing developments over 10 years. Just 18 months into the County’s 10-year plan, over $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.

Mike Wasserman, County Supervisor, District 1

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