What is Measure T and why it matters?
What is Measure T, and why it matters? Ethnic Media Services hosted a briefing with a panel of public health experts and advocates who explained the details of the Measure T initiative and why it matters.
What is Measure T?
It is an initiative that looks to preserve the tax used to buy and maintain open areas and included on the November 3rd Santa Clara ballot.
As Sadiya Muqueeth (director of Community Health at The Trust for Public Land) pointed out health is more than a visit to a doctor. The state of well-being is an essential part of our health. That includes spending time in nature. People who live close to green spaces are more likely to be physically active. As Muqueeth puts it: “Nature is an essential part of the public health infrastructure.” And it’s not just an esoteric concept. Areas that have no trees have higher levels of fine particular matter (which can lead to chronic respiratory illnesses).
Likewise, Measure T is connected with Measure Q (and seeks its renewal). Santa Clara voters passed Measure Q in 2014. It raises more than $7.8 million annually via a $24 parcel tax to buy and preserve the open spaces in the region. Via this initiative, Santa Clara County doubled its open spaces for a total of 26.000 acres, and it offers 26 miles of hiking trails that are open year-round. Shay Franco Clausen (board member of SCVOSA) stressed these spaces were open to the public even during the pandemic. As Clausen puts it: “So many people consider open space to be essential for health reasons and mental health. It really is a key part of our sanity during these times”. SCVOSA also organizes and promotes environmental education, protects farmland, and habitats for wildlife.
Housing developers eyed 937 acres of North Coyote Valley. However, with the revenue from Measure Q and with the funds from the state of California and the Peninsula Open Trust, Santa Clara County bought the land for $93 million.
Ash Kalra (California state Assemblyman, who also represents parts of Santa Clara County in the state Legislature) talked about how vital it is to buy the open spaces to preserve them. Kalra stated: “The scientists are telling us we need to protect this land… Once you develop over land and lose it, it’s gone forever.” It is especially important in light of climate change and Californian wildfires.
Sergio Jimenez (San Jose city councilman) spoke about the importance of carbon sequestration from forests and urban canopies (one tree can absorb about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year). It is vital to mitigate the impact of climate change. Jimenez highlighted the efforts of the city of San Jose to plant more trees in areas that do not have urban canopies. He also stressed the importance of outreach and involving the local community in their efforts. Members of the Latinx community care deeply about the land but does not consider themselves environmentalists, so outreach is essential.