Tag Archives: Santa Clara County

Silicon Valley’s Success Sits on Toxic ‘Superfund’ Sites

The Environmental Burdens on our Neighbors

Silicon Valley has been one of the greatest wealth generators in the United States. Yet this wealth has come at a price, one that hasn’t been shared equally amongst the residents of the Bay Area. The more ‘visual’ costs, such as skyrocketing rents and urban sprawl obscure the more subtle, but far more dangerous and long-terms costs right beneath our feet. Literally. The true cost of Silicon Valley’s success is in the ground you stand on. Santa Clara County is home to 23 superfund sites, the most of any county in the United States. If you live in the South Bay, you are never more than a short drive from one of these sites. If you live in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, or San Jose, you can probably walk to one.

A site gains a superfund status if it scores above a 28.5 or higher out of 100 on the EPA’s Hazard Ranking System, which is a measurement of the site’s threat to human health. Sites must reach a certain level of severity before they can be designated as a ‘superfund’, which lets the government to force the parties responsible to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanup. There are also hundreds of other toxic sites which don’t qualify as superfund sites which are scattered across Silicon Valley.

To understand where we are, we need to look at where we have been. Silicon Valley earned its name by hosting semiconductor and microprocessor companies such as Atari, Fairchild, Hewlett-Packard. These companies used a solvent called trichloroethylene (TCE) in their manufacturing process. TCE is now a known human carcinogen and can also cause birth defects. After use, the TCE was poured down drains or kept in storage tanks which subsequently leaded and contaminated local groundwater.  In some instance, the pollutants can re-emerge as vapor and result in ‘toxic plumes’ or ‘vapor intrusion zones’.

The environmental burden of these sites fallen unevenly upon the shoulders of people of color and the poor, as most sites “are predominantly situated in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara County cities which are comprised of the highest percentage of low socioeconomic immigrants of color.” Unsurprisingly, the whiter cities of Palo Alto and Cupertino host far fewer sites.

I live in northern Sunnyvale and I can easily walk to half a dozen, three of which are collectively called the ‘Sunnyvale Triple-site’. The vapor intrusion zone from this site encompass 400 homes and four schools, including the majority-Latino San Miguel Elementary School. Polluted in the 1980, the site was only fully cleaned up in the last decade and is now closely monitored by authorities.

Superfund sites are not the only environmental legacy of the economic boom. Another is traffic, a problem which plagues most of the Bay area, and Highway 101 is the “area’s most toxic industrial belt, with contamination impacting air, water, and soil.”

It is not a coincidence that Highway 101 through the same areas of Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Jose which host the highest concentration of minorities (and superfund sites).

The highway also runs through East Palo Alto on its way to San Francisco. East Palo Alto is diverse city with 61%  of its residents identifying as Latino, 15.6% African American/Black, and 11% Asian. The median income in 2018 was $58,783, a far cry from the average of $137,000 in whiter neighboring Palo Alto. Children in East Palo Alto are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from asthma as children in the rest of San Mateo County, and life expectancy is 13 years shorter.

And East Palo Alto isn’t an exception but rather part of a trend, a paper published by researchers at Santa Clara University noted that,

“Environmental burdens are concentrated along transportation routes and industrial centers that represent Silicon Valley’s rapid development. Hispanic populations, people of color, and socially vulnerable populations…are more likely to be exposed to multiple environmental hazards than other groups.”

The term ‘environmental burdens’ doesn’t quite convey the truth that our neighbors who bear these ‘burden’ will be sicker and die sooner than our neighbors without such burdens.

I felt two things when I learned this: shocked and lucky. Shocked, because I had no idea of the history of pollution and injustice which underlay the success of Silicon Valley.  And lucky, because while traffic is annoying I don’t live in an area where I have to worry that car exhaust will damage my health or the health of my family. Nor do I have to decide between affordable housing and living in an area which could be exposed to toxic vapor plumes.

And now I feel determined, because I can do something to help my neighbors who do have to worry about these things. I can vote for people who take environmental issues seriously, and who support clean public transportation. I can advocate at the state and local level for our legislators to ensure that the benefits and burdens of success are distributed more equally. I can speak up because we are all part of this community, and it is my responsibility to help my neighbors.


Erin Zimmerman was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2019 by the Climate Reality Project, but has been active in the environmental movement for over a decade. Erin holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Adelaide, where she focused on environmental degradation and its impacts on country and regional stability in Asia. She is currently the Chair of the Speakers’ Bureau of the Santa Clara Chapter of the Climate Reality Project  and an active member of the Legislative and Policy team.

Image by Hermina Olah Vass  @beautymakesasound

References
Fagone, J. and Dizikes, C. (2019). “SF’s Treasure Island, Poised for Building Boom, Escaped Listing as Superfund Site.” San Francisco Chronicle.
Greenaction. (2019). “East Palo Alto, California.” Greenaction.org.
Nieves, E. 2018. “The Superfund Sites of Silicon Valley.” The New York Times.
Pellow, D. N. & Park, L S-H. (2002). The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy. NYU Press.
Rao, A. and Scaruffi, P. 2013. A History of Silicon Valley: The Greatest Creation of Wealth in the History of the Planet. Omniware Group.
Reilly, C. (2018). “Silicon Valley’s ‘Middle Class‘ Earns 7 Times US Average.www.cnet.com.
Schlossberg, T. 2019. “Silicon Valley is One of the Most Polluted Places in the Country.The Atlantic.
Siegel, L. (2015). “Building Trust at the Triple Site, Sunnyvale, California.” Center for Public Environmental Oversight.
Solof, L.E. (2014). “Bay Area Student Involvement in the Environmental and Food Justice Movements: A Narrative of Motivations, Experiences, and Community Impact.” Doctoral Dissertation. University of San Francisco; The Faculty of the School of Education.
Stewart, I. Bacon, C. Burke, W. (2014). “The Uneven Distribution of Environmental Burdens and Benefits in Silicon Valley’s Backyard.” Applied Geography. 55: 266-277.
Stock, S. Paredes, D. and S. Pham. 2014 (12 May). “Toxic Plumes: The Dark Side of Silicon Valley.NBC Bay Area.
Sustainable Silicon Valley. (2020).
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). “What is a Superfund.

 

Connecting to Nature is Good for Public Health

The Bay Area is a great place to live in. It is blessed with progressive land planning that has set aside vast open space areas for recreation. Measures, like Measure Q and now T, to be voted in by the people, ensure that open spaces in Santa Clara Valley stay protected and accessible.

During the lock-down, families truly appreciate the value of access to public parks and open spaces. 

Atulya Sarin, Professor of Santa Clara University lost his beloved 12 year old dog Bufar Bryant Sarin last year. During the pandemic Sarin yearned to be outdoors . “I truly understand how my dog Bufar felt,” says Atulya Sarin with a smile, “I can’t wait for 5pm when I can go for my walk.” 

What helped families like Professor Sarin’s to escape to the outdoors was Measure Q, a $24 parcel-tax that was approved in 2014 by voters. It generated approximately $7.9 million per year, thereby enabling the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority to nearly double protected space in the county to more than 26,000 acres.

 It also preserved about 1,000 acres in North Coyote Valley, so Santa Clara Valley’s residents had open spaces and lands to escape to during lockdown.

Measure T, on the November 2020 ballot, renews Measure Q – keeping the parcel tax at $24 – but with the clause that it will renew automatically each year unless ended by voters. 

All funds are spent in the cities of San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Campbell, Morgan Hill, and in the unincorporated portions of Santa Clara County.

“We are in a great place and the reason we are in a great place is because measure Q gave us resources to buy up land,” said state Assemblymember Ash Kalra at a virtual meeting organized by Ethnic Media Services on October 1. At the end of the day, said Kalra, the land cannot be protected unless it is bought. Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority purchased land to protect it permanently. 

“We can zone land any which way, but a different council can change that. It is critical therefore that in addition to legislation to create a conservation program we must have the Open Space Authority have resources to purchase and protect the land permanently,” he said. 

Coyote Valley

A case in point is Coyote Valley – 7,400 acres of land between the Santa Cruz mountains and the Diablo range. The land is key for flood protection and safeguarding the valley’s ecological livelihood. 

In the 1980s, Apple eyed Coyote Valley as a place to build its world headquarters. In the 1990s, Cisco Systems tried to build a massive campus there. Environmental groups, who said the area — currently used by farmers and wildlife — should be left in its natural state, fought both proposals.

“We all know a little bit of development causes a domino effect and next thing you know it really becomes a totally different type of landscape. 

Measured Response

The pandemic and wildfires have choked California this year.   

“Scientists are telling us that we need to protect 30 percent of the land to keep global warming at bay,” said Kalra. “The more land we can protect the more we can combat global warming. We are seeing how human behavior is connected to all these tragedies,” he said.

South Bay leaders at the press briefing urged a vote for Measure T, which would preserve a tax used for parks and open areas.

“We need to protect this open space for the preservation of a sustainable future for California,” said state Assemblymember Ash Kalra, a long-time environmental advocate. 

Expanding public access to nature improves public health  “Spending as little as two hours a week in nature, 15-20 minutes a day, can improve self-reported health and well-being,” says Sadiya Muqueeth, director community health at the Trust for Public Land.

“We can fix it! We created it and we can fix it,” said Kalra 


Ritu Marwah is a 2020 California reporting and engagement fellow at USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism.

 

Free, Easy COVID-19 Testing in Santa Clara County!

Residents in Santa Clara County can now get free and easy COVID-19 testing in their neighborhoods.  The county just launched six new and expanded drive-through and pop-up locations at community centers, parking lots, and county health system in Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View and San Jose.

People get who get tested at these sites pay nothing for the test.

“It’s fast, free and you don’t need insurance,” said Cindy Chavez, President of the Board of Supervisors, urging residents to advantage of the opportunity to get tested in their neighborhood.

“The County is bringing testing capacity to where it’s needed.”

The locations were chosen based on data showing a higher rate of recent cases in these areas compared to nearby areas. By adding six new locations, the county now has at least 46 sites offering COVID-19 viral detection testing.

Frontline Workers  Need Monthly Testing
The county recommends that essential workers (grocery store clerks, food delivery workers, retail associates, first responders, and other frontline workers), who regularly interact with the public to get tested at least once a month going forward, even if they have no symptoms at all. Testing can identify the infection before a person feels unwell or before they spread it to another person with potentially deadly consequences.

“I encourage everyone to protect themselves and their family by scheduling a test at one of our test sites throughout Santa Clara County,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian. The tests offered are viral detection tests, which diagnose a person who currently has the infection.

Mobile testing services will be available at Rengstorff Park in the City of Mountain View. “We need everyone – including cities, the County, and private healthcare providers and labs,’ noted Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga, “to do their part to help us get through this crisis.”

WALK-UP TESTING SCHEDULE
Walk-up testing at outdoor “pop-up” sites will be available available without an appointment, insurance or doctor’s note, at Mountain View (May 25 & May 27 and in San Jose (May 29).

Monday, May 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Rengstorff Park Pool Area, 201 S Rengstorff Ave., Mountain View, CA 94040

Wednesday, May 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Rengstorff Park Pool Area, 201 S Rengstorff Ave., Mountain View, CA 94040

Friday, May 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
La Placita Tropicana Shopping Center parking lot, 1630 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

DRIVE THRU TESTING SITES 
Drive-thru testing will be available 7 days a week at four county health system locations in Milpitas, Morgan Hill and San Jose. These require appointments which can be made online at sccfreetest.org or by calling 888-334-1000.

  • 1325 East Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035 (location subject to change)
  • 18550 De Paul Dr., Morgan Hill, CA 95037
  • 777 E Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95112
  • 1993 McKee Road, San Jose, CA 95116

For more information on testing go to www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/covid19-testing-learn-more.aspx#types.

For information on test sites call 211 or go to sccfreetest.org. The site is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog.

 

 

Santa Clara County Goes Back To Work

A new Shelter-in-Place Order for Santa Clara County residents went into effect on Monday, May 4, 2020, extending the shelter-in-place timeline from May 4, 2020 to May 31, 2020 but allowing certain businesses and activities to resume.

“We have successfully slowed the spread of COVID-19,” said Assemblyman Ash Kalra (A-27), in a statement released May 8.

The updated order from the county’s Health Officer allows some workplaces to go back to work so long as those organizations comply with certain safety protocols

That  includes all construction projects and real estate transactions, as well as nurseries, landscaping, and agriculture businesses that normally operated outdoors prior to the shelter in place mandate.

Educational and recreational programs that provide childcare for people who are allowed to work outside of their homes are also eligible to resume services.

However, the order requires that all businesses in the County update or create a Social Distancing Protocol based on local or state restrictions, and to follow whichever guideline is stricter, as they transition into Stage 2 of California’s Pandemic Resilience Roadmap.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced new changes to California’s four-stage Pandemic Roadmap, that will allow some Lower Risk Workplaces such as modified school programs and childcare the opportunity to adapt and re-open in some counties.

The framework also provides Industrial guidance that will drive the reopening of businesses in the retail, manufacturing, and logistics  sectors, as long as they meet criteria for risk assessment, screenings, physical distancing and disinfecting protocols.

Santa Clara County  Resource Initiatives

Santa Clara County is creating access to resources that its residents may need as they gear up for staggered re-openings within their county and across the state.

The City of San Jose is teaming with Verily and Santa Clara County to open free new community testing sites, which will offer 250 tests per day, 2-3 days per week . The city also has created a Nonprofit Resource Page in partnership with trusted nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits in Santa Clara county can access resourcesthrough Silicon Valley Strong  and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s coronavirus response program.

In San Jose, the city’s work2future program will work with local restaurants to provide on-the-job training for adults, and work experience funding opportunities for older youth.

The California DMV will reopen select field offices across the state on Friday, May 8, to a field office during the COVID-19 pandemic. The San Jose Driver License Processing Center will reopen to assist customers with appointments and transactions that require in-person visits. Online and expanded virtual services will still be available to complete driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals, and other transactions.

California State Pandemic Response

At the state level, Governor Newsome is creating several new initiatives to help Californians contend with the pandemic.

They include the Great Plates Delivered Program which will provide meals to high-risk seniors, and support for local restaurants  and other food providers that are struggling to remain open during the pandemic. Another groundbreaking statewide initiative, High Road Kitchens  will provide grants and subsidies to independent restaurants which commit to equitable wages, re-hire employees and re-purpose themselves as community kitchens as they reopen; training on compliance with COVID-19-related physical distancing orders is also on offer.

Childcare for Essential Workers

Parents can find affordable childcare from a list of open licensed childcare programsthrough a state subsidized portal  of Child Care Resource and Referral agencies. By entering their location and type of care they need, they will receive instantly receive a list of local center-based and family childcare programs.

Financial Relief for Students and Homeowners Additional relief measures announced by Governor Newsome include assistance for more than 1.1 million Californians with privately held student loans, temporary cash aid and assistance to eligible families to in find and keep jobs through CalWORKsand a Forbearance option – a temporary pause or reduction in monthly mortgage payments – for families facing financial hardships.  New guidance is also available for people who have exhausted all benefits, EDD debit cards, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Small Businesses Relief Programs

Covered California will protect small businesses seeking to keep their employees covered by reducing premiums and deferring payments during the pandemic. Governor Newsom also has extended the tax filing deadline for taxpayers have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19

Residents can check the status of their Economic Impact Payment at the Get My Payment portal and confirm whether the money is arriving via direct deposit or paper check.

Nonprofits, commercial arts businesses, and individual artists can find arts funding opportunities through Americans for the Arts  and the CARES Act Table of Federal Arts Funding Opportunities for

More information is available at https://a27.asmdc.org/ or email assemblymember.kalra@assembly.ca.gov.

Meera Kymal is a contributing editor at India Currents

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Photo by Muhammad Rizwan on Unsplash

 

Ballots…in Hindi?

In 2009, one year away from being able to vote, I worked the polls for the presidential election. I had no understanding of the election process but I was part of the excitement and I felt I had a hand in getting Barack Obama elected. 

March 3rd will be the last day to vote in the California Primaries but did you know that you could have voted starting February 3rd? Why should you care?

Election worker, Mary Kelly, working the E-Poll Book

Much like sports, in order to be engaged, you have to feel invested in the players, teams, rules, and locations of games. While I’ve never been interested in sports, Obama winning the presidency felt like a touchdown to me. A moment of realization – I care when I’m informed. Maybe I can get into sports. 

So let me help you feel like the Jimmy Garoppolo of the upcoming primary elections and acquaint you with how California has worked to ensure that anyone that wishes to be, can exercise their right in the democratic process. 

There have been no changes to the election process since 2003 and it has taken more than a decade to enforce voters’ rights. This is the first election using the Voter’s Choice Act model and California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, has done everything in his power to advocate for voters in disenfranchised communities. Santa Clara County is forward thinking and has adopted measures for all voices to be represented. 

Starting from before the election season

  • 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register to vote.
  • anyone that applies for a driver’s licence will be automatically registered to vote (Motor Voter Law).
  • everyone registered to vote receives a vote-by-mail ballot in a choice of over 25 languages. 

These changes are significant for the following reasons

  • Navigating an election process, that is riddled in legal/political jargon, creates hurdles.
  • Automatic voter registration and multilingual vote-by-mail ballots remove barriers. 
  • For our multiethnic community, you can choose from an array of languages to feel educated and comfortable about the voting process. 
  • For those that work jobs with no time off or pay compensation, they can cast their ballot without leaving their home or job (postage stamp is already paid). 

These steps help leading up to the last day of the elections but even more has been done for the last day of the election – for my procrastinators and indecisive voters here is your chance! 

On March 3rd:

  • There will be over 110 Vote Centers in Santa Clara County.
  • There will be diverse, second language speaking election workers at all the vote centers.
  • You can drop or fill out a ballot at any location in the county. 
  • Checking-in with the new E-Poll Book provides you with the option of choosing your party and language preference (Hindi, Khmer, Spanish, English, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese, Japanese) on the spot.
  • Your district specific ballot can be printed out at any county center. 
  • Conditional and Provisional ballots will be available for non registered voters and voters from other counties.
  • In order to vote in the Presidential Primaries, you must pick a party. You may choose the Nonpartisan crossover option where you will be given the candidates from the Democratic, Republican, and American Independent ballot. 
  • There will be electronic ballot marking devices with adaptive disability equipment.
  • You will be submitting the ballot through a machine that instantly identifies if there’s an error that needs correction (for example, if someone overvotes for three candidates in a two-candidate contest).

Our 2018 midterm elections had the highest voter turnout for a midterm election at around 116 million people – only slightly more than the number of people watching Super Bowl XLIX with 41.8% of registered voters showing interest. Let’s take charge and increase the voter turnout this year – we have no excuse! For more information about voting in California, check here.

Srishti Prabha is the current Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for women and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Early Voting in Santa Clara County

The Registrar of Voters’ Office mailed out the first ballots for the March 3 Presidential Primary Election, in a statement released by the County of Santa Clara on January 17. 

Vote by Mail for Military and Overseas Voters

Over 7000 ballots were sent early to military and overseas voters (45 days before the election), so they have time to return their ballots by the deadline via mail postage-free or by fax, in order to be counted for the March 3 Presidential Primary Election

Vote by Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and must be received by Friday, March 6. Military and overseas voters also must sign the ballot’s return envelope so their signatures can be matched with their voter registration forms to confirm their identity.

“Santa Clara County voters who serve and live abroad have the same right to cast a ballot as those of us here at home,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey. “We get their ballots out early …. ensuring their voices are heard even if they are on the other side of the world.” 

Registering to Vote for the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election

To register to vote in Santa Clara County, a voter must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, a Santa Clara County resident and not imprisoned or on parole for a felony.

The last day to register to vote  is February 18. You can register online at Register to Vote or check your registration status on Check Your Registration Status. Those who miss the registration deadline, can register within 14 days of the election (including on Election Day) as conditional voters at the Registrars’ Office or at any Santa Clara County Vote Center, subject to the determination of voter eligibility by the Registrar of Voters’ Office. Complete a new registration form if you have moved, changed your name or changing political party preference. Check here for details.

How to Vote Early in Santa Clara County 

All active registered voters in Santa Clara County will receive a Vote by Mail packet including an official ballot with postage-free return on February 3, 2020, twenty nine days before Election Day. Early voting begins at the Registrars’ office on that same date. You can return the Vote by Mail ballots to any of the Vote Centers or at any over the 100+ drop boxes across the country.

Vote Centers open a full 10 days before Election Day on Saturday, February 22, 2020 for live ballots. 

Of the more than 936,000 registered voters in Santa Clara County, nearly 300,000 are registered as No Party Preference (NPP). Their primary election ballots will not include candidates for President. Voters can cast a crossover vote in the presidential contest for American Independent, Democratic, and Libertarian parties. Voters who cast a crossover vote will continue to be registered as No Party Preference and will be able to request a crossover ballot in each future presidential primary election

The Green, Peace & Freedom, and Republican parties opted to not allow crossover voting in the presidential primary so NPP voters must re-register with these parties if they want to cast a ballot for any of them. Send all requests for new ballots by February 25. 

The Registrar of Voters needs at least 2,000 workers to operate the Vote Centers under the Voter’s Choice Act model. Voters will be using a new, updated voting system when they cast their ballots. To learn more or to apply, visit Work at a Vote Center.

For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683), or visit www.sccvote.org.

 

 

Santa Clara County Introduces New Voting System

Big changes are coming to the ballot box for the 2020 Primary elections in Santa Clara County – changes that will affect where you vote and how you vote. 

Santa Clara will join a small but growing number of California counties implementing changes mandated by the California Voter’s Choice Act, which aims to make it easier for voters to vote.  These changes go into effect by the March 2020 primary election, as approved by the County Board of Supervisors in April this year.

While there are concerns that the new system might cause confusion and reduce voter participation, the counties that implemented the new model in November 2018 election saw turnout increase by 12 to 19 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Santa Clara County Registrar’s staff. However, several counties statewide saw an increase in turnout which could be attributed to the current political climate. 

Here is what you need to know about the New Vote Center starting with the March 2020 primary election:

  • If you are a Santa Clara resident, instead of casting a ballot at one of nearly 850 neighborhood polling places, you will be able to go to any of 125 voting centers throughout the county, open for multiple days to give you a larger window to cast your ballot
  • The Vote Centers will be equipped with an electronic book that lets poll workers see whether a person has voted at any other location across the county or submitted a vote-by-mail ballot.
  • If you need a replacement ballot, or a ballot in another language, you can have one printed for them on the spot.
  • Every voter will also be automatically sent a vote-by-mail ballot, regardless of whether they signed up for one.
  • Voters can also register to vote at the center at the last minute. 

Santa Clara county residents will also be using an all-new voting system for the 2020 Primary elections with the goal of increasing participation and election security.  

Each Vote Center will have a minimum of three ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices that include a touchscreen tablet and individual printer. These devices provide a simple and intuitive interface for voters.  After marking a ballot on the touchscreen, voters will print the ballot in their voting booth. The voters deposit their paper ballot into the ballot tabulator which will warn the voter about potential errors, allowing the voter to correct the error.

Election Night results will come much faster for the voters because the new system allows for counting at each Voter Center.  Previously, all the ballots were sent to the Registrar’s main office for tabulation. 

The California Secretary of State’s Office has undertaken exhaustive and extensive end-to-end testing to certify the security of the new system. The new voting system is not connected to the internet and cannot receive or transmit any electronic election data.

Fair and free elections are a hallmark of American democracy and the American people’s trust in their government is contingent on their confidence in the election process.   Registrar of Voters, Shannon Bushey thinks that voters will like the new system. “We are looking forward to this change,” she said “….and we appreciate the increase in performance and processing speed the new voting system will bring, as well as its stringent vote-security measures.”

For more information on these changes, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at 1-408-299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at 1-866-430-VOTE (8683), or visit www.sccvote.org

Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney is a Bay Area resident with experience in educational non-profits, community building, networking and content development and was Community Director for an online platform. She is interested in how to strengthen communities by building connections to politics, science & technology, gender equality and public education.

 

 

 

 

 

Measure T – How Will We Measure Up?

On a pleasant October afternoon, a diverse group of media representatives gathered on a quiet street in San Jose, around a picnic table laden with goodies. This was not a mere picnic.The meet was hosted by Ethnic Media Services (EMS), a Bay Area non profit organization that calls for wider representation in terms of diversity on public issues. The organization works to increase the scope of the ethnic media to engage audiences and increase participation towards forming an inclusive democracy. It aims to give a human face to an otherwise “invisible” ethnic media sector.

Ethnic Media Services Founder, Sandy Closehas worn many hats an award winn

ing journalist, editor, and Director of New America Media (NAM) which was the first and largest collaboration of ethnic news organizations. She founded EMS to continue key projects with ethnic media in December 2017.  The agenda on hand was Measure T – A bond issue for Public Safety and Infrastructure which is on the ballot for San Jose voters in Santa Clara County, on November 6, 2018.

The location chosen for the meet was Rock Springs Park, a children’s park, situated against a lush backdrop of wooded area. You wouldn’t think much of it, were it not for the image on the media briefing that was handed out. A dramatic picture showed the same park totally flooded with murky water. A second aerial shot showed a residential neighborhood similarly flooded, rows of half submerged cars lining the street. These images were from the February 2017 flooding of Coyote Creek. Years of drought had led to an accumulation of brush and other vegetation all along the creek bed. This meant that it could not channel the large volume of rain water, which further led to the overflow and flooding.

Ms. Ming Ngoc Do, a local resident and flood survivor, gave a moving first-person account of the flood. She spoke of the devastation and helplessness, she and many of her friends faced due to being displaced from their homes. Lack of warning from the USGS and other authorities left the residents angry and frustrated. Roughly 14,000 homes were evacuated and the city sustained nearly $100 million in damages.  Ms. Do, spent days after the waters receded, cleaning up debris and salvaging belongings. “It was a very very tough time for us! We cannot sustain another flood!” she exclaimed.

Support for Measure T:

San Jose is the largest city in Northern California. It has experienced rapid growth in the technological sector which has resulted in a booming metropolis, leaving its aging infrastructure suffering at the same time.  Measure T makes an important point when it comes to addressing the upgrade of existing infrastructure. It takes into account that infrastructure improvement does not mean adding concrete and asphalt; but instead, aims to work with the natural environmental systems that surround us. It calls for preventive measures being put in place to help in effective disaster planning measures.

San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo spoke at the event and called for critical action in favor of Measure-T. With reference to the Coyote Creek flooding, Mayor Liccardo stated that important lessons had been learned in the aftermath of the event. He outlined how the sum of $ 650 million would be used to update community services like emergency operations, 911 communication facilities, fire and road safety, flood control measures, and repairing seismically vulnerable local bridges, to list a few. $50 million of the funds will be allocated towards buying land in Coyote Valley to protect against floods and preserve water quality.  He lauded Measure T as being a forward-thinking, 21st century infrastructure; working to co-exist with the environment, and for the protection of nature. “San Jose is at the forefront of such a bond measure”, he stated.

Alice Kaufman, is the Legislative Advocacy Director with Committee for Green Foothills, a Bay Area organization whose mission is to protect the open spaces, farmlands, and natural resources through advocacy, education, and grassroots action. Ms. Kaufman stressed the importance of retaining our green spaces in this rapidly expanding world we live in. She added her voice towards preserving healthy, working ecosystems as being our best investment in the future. The Committee for Green Foothills is a strong supporter of Measure-T.

Andrea Mackenzie and Mark Landgraf represented the Open Space Authority, an organization whose main objective is the conservation of natural environment. They work to preserve undeveloped land and restore it to its natural state, while safeguarding water sources and regional trails. They also work with partners and private landowners on acquisitions that help achieve their objective of preserving greenbelts and urban buffers. In the case of Coyote valley, the idea is to acquire land surrounding Coyote creek, and planting vegetation that helps soil absorption while purifying aquifers. This will create a natural flood protection zone that prevents catastrophic events like the flooding of February 2017. Measure-T will allocate a budget of $50 million towards such improvements in the Coyote Valley.

Opposition for Measure T: 

While it has a broad bipartisan coalition support, Measure T has its share of nay sayersCitizens for Fiscal Responsibility (CFR) has voiced concerns about the proposal. Their argument is that the city of San Jose should take a conservative view on fiscal measures. In an already existing housing crisis, homeowners will be looking at an increase in property taxes with this bond proposal. CFR is concerned that such a move will make the dream of home ownership unattainable for many San Jose residents. This will further lead to landlords raising rents to offset the increase, squeezing tenants and worsening an already escalating rental market. CFR states that San Jose has the funds it needs, but cites government inefficiency as the reason for poor management of its budget. It is one of the voices against the proposed bond measure.

The Silicon Valley Tax Payers Association is another organization that argues against Measure T. Calling taxpayers to ‘Vote NO on T’, the organization cautions residents that the long term interest (25 – 30 years) on $650 million is a setback that neither they nor the city can afford to undertake. Their argument is that while many of the communication technologies Measure T seeks to improve are necessary, they will likely be obsolete over the period it takes to pay back the interest on the bond.

The tag-line for the bond measure reads, “Measure T puts SAFE-T first”. The list of proposed improvements promise a city better equipped to mitigate damage from inevitable natural disasters.

A two-third voter majority is required to successfully pass the measure. The date to vote on Measure T is November 6th.

Will San Jose measure up?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Court Ordered Council Districting Process

On June 6, 2018, the Santa Clara County Superior Court issued a ruling stating that the City of Santa Clara’s current way of electing its council members in City-wide elections is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. The Court will hold an additional trial beginning July 23, 2018 to determine the judicial remedy for this violation. The Court has indicated that it may order that for the November 2018 election for the two Council seats that are up for election that candidates will not be elected on a City-wide basis, but by district elections.

On June 26, 2018, the Court issued an Order regarding the Schedule for the Remedies Phase of Trial: http://santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=58277. The Order requires the City to take immediate actions to hold (4) four public hearings before July 22, 2018 for the purpose of receiving public input on potential district maps for the election of Council members.

A change in elections by district will be a substantial change in how Santa Clara voters elect their Council members. If the Court orders district elections, the voters will only be able to elect one council member who lives in the same district as those voters.

Community Input – Get Involved

The City of Santa Clara encourages your participation in this process to create potential new districts in the City of Santa Clara. We recognize that this is a very short time frame to receive your input, but given the importance of this change, we urge you to attend the upcoming public hearings and to stay informed by checking the City’s website at www.santaclaraca.gov/districts. To provide public input in writing, you may email your comments directly to: districts@santaclaraca.gov

OR fill out comments online on a survey: https://www.opentownhall.com/6467

Public Meetings

July 3, 2018 – 6:00 p.m. Council Chambers, 1500 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara
July 5, 2018 – 4:30 p.m. Central Park Library, Redwood Room, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara
July 11, 2018 – 6:00 p.m. Council Chambers, 1500 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara
July 21, 2018 – 11:00 a.m. Northside Library Community Room, 695 Moreland Way, Santa Clara

To arrange for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act to participate in this public event, please call the City Clerk’s Office at (408) 615-2220 at least three business days before the event.

Maps and Demographics

A professional demographer will utilize the City’s demographic information to prepare draft single member district maps. The draft district maps will be published on this webpage for public review at www.santaclaraca.gov/districts

Ad-hoc Advisory Districting Committee

The Ad-hoc Advisory Districting Committee has been created to hold and conduct the districting public hearings. The committee members are made up of residents who also currently serve on established boards and commissions.

  • Yuki Ikezi (Chair)
  • Stephen Ricossa
  • Barbara “Bobbi” A. Estrada

Questions / More Information

For additional information or any questions, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (408) 615-2220 or email districts@santaclaraca.gov  

Some Libraries Offer U.S. Passport Services

Just in time for summer vacation planning, the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) is adding passport services to the long list of reasons
to visit the library. Starting April 2 at the Milpitas Library and April 3 at the Cupertino Library, new passport acceptance facility offices will be open to the public during specified hours. Pre-book an appointment now at www.sccl.org/passport

“Our libraries provide high value to the community,” stated County Supervisor and library Joint Powers
Authority board member, Joe Simitian. “Bringing passport services to the Cupertino and Milpitas
libraries is just another example of how we are always focused on providing important and relevant
services to our residents.”

The new Passport Acceptance Facilities will assist patrons to obtain first-time passports for adults and
children, renewals for passports issued before the applicant was 16 years of age, renewals for expired
passports issued more than 15 years ago, replacements for lost, stolen, or damaged passports, and
provide passport photo services. An SCCLD library card is not required for the passport services,
although one is recommended to utilize all of the travel-related information available from the library.

“Customer service is a cornerstone of the Library District,” according to County Supervisor and
Chairman of the library Joint Powers Authority Board, Mike Wasserman. “There are few places that
offer a welcoming space, resources for lifelong learning, and extended open hours. Planning your travel
and applying for a passport at the library is a natural fit. I’m very happy to bring this level of customer
service to our residents.”

To book an appointment, go to www.sccl.org/passport and select a time and location. Cupertino’s
service will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1-7 pm and Wednesdays, Fridays and
Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm. Milpitas’s service will be available Mondays and Wednesdays 1-7 pm
and Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 am to 4 pm.

Once submitted, passport applications typically take between four to six weeks to be processed, with the
option of paying a $60 expedite fee to cut that time down by two weeks. Passports will be mailed
directly to the applicant by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
SCCLD has many free resources on travel, cultures, international food, and Rosetta Stone to learn
another language. For a sample of SCCLD’s digital and hard copy tour guides:

 

Maitri Raises over $650K at its Annual Gala

Maitri Board members with Cindy Chavez and Ash Kalra

Maitri celebrated 27 years of empowering South Asian community members suffering from familial violence, human trafficking, elder abuse, and cultural alienation with a glittering and successful gala on March 3, 2018, in Palo Alto, California. The occasion was graced by Silicon Valley CEOs, VCs, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and community members who generously donated over $650K.

The funds will be used for strengthening Maitri’s comprehensive suite of services and programs ranging from a helpline, a transitional house, outreach and prevention, a non-profit boutique, legal advocacy, mental health, and economic empowerment program. Noreen Raza, Maitri Board of Trustees and Gala Co-Chair, says “We exceeded our goal and am so grateful and proud of our community once again stepping up to the challenge of funding critically needed programs and services for South Asian survivors of familial violence and abuse.”

Jeffrey Iqbal. Photo credit: Saurabh Desai

Shamik Mehta, Co-Chair Maitri Board of Trustees and Gala Co-Chair says, “For the first 10-plus years of Maitri’s existence, we were completely dependent on community funding with the result we were able to create many unique and culturally sensitive programs best suited to the needs of our clients. And, as a result, maintaining program agility and fiscal prudence has become a part of our DNA.”

Photo credit: Saurabh Desai

Sonya Pelia, President of Maitri says, “The shift in consciousness around familial violence and abuse in the South Asian community over the last few years has been nothing short of amazing. At the same time, we find that our unique cultural competency and strong leadership has established Maitri in the forefront of mainstream domestic violence agencies in the Bay Area.”

During the evening, Maitri was recognized by Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and commended by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) for the agency’s transformative work in empowering survivors of domestic violence and abuse. The evening wrapped up with a dazzling musical performance by the talented Jeffrey Iqbal, a globally recognized singer and musician, and his band.

Maitri is a free, confidential, nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, empowering South Asian survivors of family violence, cultural alienation, human trafficking and elder abuse. In these 27 years, the agency has responded to over 46,000 helpline calls and empowered more than 4,000 survivors with it’s transformational programs and active policy work.