South Bay: Three Monumental Ballot Measure Wins for Open Space

In summer 2018, the fight to sink Measure B and pass Measure C, two competing measures in San Jose, was a battle of dollars versus democracy—and democracy won.

Despite being out-spent at least 10-to-1 by Measure B’s billionaire backers, our team of organizations stopped the destructive measure, which would have rewritten local rules and allowed sprawl development across the city. It threatened thousands of acres of open space across San Jose, including the majestic Coyote Valley. It also included development plans for the Evergreen area, which would have paved over greenbelt lands while bypassing affordable housing requirements and local fees. The stakes were incredibly high. Measure B would have set a dangerous precedent for the entire Bay Area.

Thankfully, Greenbelt Alliance has been stopping sprawl development for 60 years, and we know a bad plan when we see one. We have seen efforts like Measure B in the past, as sprawl developers tried to mislead the public and overrule community and environmental protections. Our experienced team helped San Jose’s voters see through the deception.

In addition to stopping Measure B, voters delivered a one-two punch by passing Measure C, which installed new safeguards for the area’s farms, ranches, and watersheds. Measure C will make future attempts at sprawl development around San Jose even more difficult.

Following the June elections, the good news kept coming. We celebrated several more election wins in November which will raise $226 million in funding for parks and open space around the region. One of the most exciting wins was Measure T in San Jose. Measure T will fund the purchase and protection of lands in Coyote Valley—a longstanding goal of Greenbelt Alliance.

These three monumental wins are a great example of how our work to shape local decisions, powered by your support, protects the Bay Area’s natural and agricultural lands. Together we’re both stopping short-sighted sprawl now and planning for future generations.

Our Impact

Greenbelt Alliance brought together Neighbors for Affordable Housing and Open Space—the campaign against Measure B and for Measure C—with our partners ranging from environmental groups to affordable housing advocates. We rallied residents, organized volunteers, walked precincts, and hit the phones, urging voters to stop Measure B and support Measure C. Our campaign expertise and ability to assemble a team of organizations from many backgrounds was key to our success. On the heels of that success, we rallied residents again to pass Measure T and fund the purchase and protection of threatened lands in Coyote Valley.

What ’s Next

Building on these three victories, Greenbelt Alliance and our partners will continue to protect our region’s precious natural and agricultural lands—including Coyote Valley—while helping the Bay Area create the right development in the right places. Now that Measure T funding has been secured, we will continue to seek out support, hold public rallies, host online petitions, and letter-writing campaigns, and speak at city meetings to ensure the City Council spends these funds in the way the voters intended—to protect Coyote Valley. If the City Council follows the will of the voters, funds from Measure T will protect pieces of Coyote Valley. However, the threat of sprawl still looms large for much of this last chance landscape. We won’t stop until it is protected, permanently.

Photo: Wesley Lee

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