The Understanding Our Community report provides a detailed picture of the Authority’s jurisdiction (about 1.4 million people) and identifies barriers that prevent some residents from going outdoors to enjoy nature and reap its many health and other benefits.
The Santa Clara Valley region’s diversity in cultures, ages, experiences, and backgrounds contribute to the region’s vibrancy and prosperity. However, the region is also one of disparity when it comes to distribution of wealth, environmental burdens, isolation due to language differences, and access to open space.
Based on report data, the Open Space Authority defined six neighborhoods as Deep Engagement Communities, that experience greater environmental burdens—such as air and water pollution, traffic density, and solid waste sites—and barriers to access of open space lands. Deep Engagement Communities include approximately 205,000 residents, or 15% of the total population in the jurisdiction.
With a focus on Deep Engagement Communities, the Authority will increase its community engagement and form strategic partnerships with community leaders and organizations to achieve a more balanced distribution of parks and open space amenities across the Authority’s jurisdiction.
The following data points represent just a few of the important indicators that the Authority will consider when conducting outreach, engaging communities, and developing and implementing the Urban Open Space Grant Program—a Measure Q program that provides funding for urban projects such as parks, trails and community gardens.
Feedback from Our Communities
The Understanding Our Community report’s findings informed the Authority’s planning of seven community forums—held in Spring 2016—to include a wide diversity of residents. Spanish and Vietnamese translation was provided for select meetings. The most frequently cited community needs were:
- Better trail and park connectivity
- Urban community gardens
- Nearby access to open space
- More opportunities for young people to engage in nature
Various barriers prevent many residents from enjoying nature more frequently. The most frequently barriers cited were:
- Lack of nearby open space and natural areas
- Lack of transportation
- Financial burdens associated with visiting parks and preserves
- Safety was also a major concern for many residents
Understanding Our Community: A Community Assessment Project and follow up community meetings were conducted by Basecamp Strategies. These studies are designed to lay the groundwork for the Open Space Authority to make strategic conservation investments with a better understanding of community demographics and barriers to accessing parks and open space—and to increase opportunities for residents to enjoy the many benefits of parks, open space and natural areas.