Staedler: San Jose bond measure needed for parks maintenance backlog
Alum Rock Park in San Jose is one of the oldest municipal parks in California. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    A lot of attention has been given to the allocation of Measure E funds for either long-term or short-term housing projects. My vote would be to do both, but an area of the city budget that I don’t believe gets enough attention is the parks deferred maintenance backlog.

    Per page 353 of the city’s 2024-2028 proposed capital improvement program budget document: “The estimated value of the deferred maintenance and unfunded infrastructure backlog totals approximately $464.4 million for regional park facilities, community buildings, regional facilities, trails, and park restrooms.”

    That’s a hefty amount, and it grows bigger each year with the deterioration of our beloved public spaces and buildings. The budget document also states the city will be eliminating the backlog reserve due to reduction in revenues.

    My recommendation for this crisis is to ask the voters to approve a $1 billion bond for this specific use. Why $1 billion? Because I do not think we should just fix the backlog, we also need to operate the park facilities and spaces to the fullest. Our neighborhoods deserve to have fully staffed and programmed public spaces.

    How do we accomplish such a lofty goal? I would suggest the city go to the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority for help passing the bond issuance. The city stepped up and put $50 million into the preservation of Coyote Valley through Measure T. A way for the open space authority to say thank you to San Jose voters is to lead the effort to get such a measure passed. The authority has a history of getting its parcel tax renewed by a wide margin and should look at all parks as open spaces worthy of public investment.

    To quote a Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” I think this sums up the need for this bond measure.

    On a separate note, this is my last San José Spotlight column. I appreciated the opportunity to do this over the last several years. Please check out my website at and my new mobile application that I have created. It will be where I put my future columns and share information on development throughout the Bay Area.

    Onward and upward.

    San José Spotlight columnist Bob Staedler is a principal at Silicon Valley Synergy, a San Jose-based land use and development consulting firm. Contact Bob at [email protected] or follow @BobStaedler on Twitter.

    Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

    Leave a Reply