State funding rains on Silicon Valley cities
An aerial image of a part of the city of Santa Clara. Photo courtesy of The 111th Group.

    Three cities in Santa Clara County are receiving a windfall in state funding for a number of community projects.

    Assemblymember Alex Lee secured nearly $32 million for the five cities in his district—the largest allocation the area has seen, according to the elected official.

    San Jose received the lion’s share with $10 million to build a school gym in the Berryessa Union School District. Milpitas received $2.5 million for homeless services and bike lanes and Santa Clara got $800,000 to finish an all-inclusive playground at Central Park. Neighboring cities Newark and Fremont are receiving nearly $18 million for citywide infrastructure projects like broadband, bike protection lanes, community centers and other supportive services.

    “Coming out of the pandemic, in this recession, there’s a lot of inequities. With record surpluses two years in a row, it’s only appropriate that we’re reinvesting those gains back into the community so that everyone can succeed,” Lee told San José Spotlight. “The projects selected (try) to maximize the greatest good for all my cities and for the most residents possible.”

    Lee was elected in 2020 to serve in Assembly District 25. After the district maps were redrawn in 2021, he landed in newly formed Assembly District 24 which also includes Milpitas, Fremont, Newark and the Berryessa area in North San Jose. The new boundaries were adopted through a redistricting process that happens once a decade. Roughly 53.81% of voters in the newly formed district are Asian American. The progressive candidate made history for being the first openly bisexual and one of the youngest assemblymembers at age 26. He is currently running for reelection.

    Lee said he was “thrilled” to secure the millions in funding for District 25, noting the projects line up with state goals to combat homelessness and improve infrastructure. The most exciting allocations are the $2 million in homeless services for Milpitas and Fremont, he said.

    Milpitas received $1.5 million for homeless supportive and prevention services. Mayor Rich Tran said this will be split between three major projects: a safe parking site at the BART station, the showers and clean laundry program for unhoused residents and a resource navigating center.

    “This is super amazingly helpful to receive this funding for our city,” Tran told San José Spotlight. “The $1.5 million for homelessness prevention could not have come at a better time.”

    He said the $1 million allocation to build out more bike lanes is also exciting. The combined $2.5 million is the largest allocation Milpitas has gotten from the state Assembly, Tran said.

    “We don’t have these massive budgets like San Jose which is quadruple our budget, if not even 10 times or 20 times our budget,” Tran said. “So for a small city like Milpitas we are really appreciative and grateful for funding.”

    Piedmont Middle School Athletic Director Carly Pridham said she is also appreciative. Students at the North San Jose middle school have been using a multi-purpose room from 1959 with broken windows for physical education and sports practices after school. The $10 million for a new gym will be transformative, Pridham said.

    “The multi-purpose room is an old facility and so something new and shiny I think brings camaraderie and things like that for students,” Pridham told San José Spotlight. “They can feel proud of their campus when other teams come to play.”

    The funding will provide a new facility with a full-size middle school basketball court and bleacher sections to accommodate 180 people. The state is footing most of the bill, with a total construction cost of $11.9 million.

    Pridham said the only downfall is the new gym will be built where the softball field is, but it will resolve congestion around the multi-purpose room where students eat lunch and other school activities take place.

    In Santa Clara, state funding will help complete the one-acre all-inclusive playground at the city’s Central Park. It will help finance ADA renovations for the Arbor Area restroom and the installation of shade structures in the Arbor Center group picnic area. Without the state infusion, the city would’ve had to cut several amenities, according to Lee’s office.

    “A lot of times projects like these are missing a gap in funding so allocations like this enables them to go faster and finish on time,” Lee said. “I hope to secure even more money next year for my district.”

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter. 

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