Awesome Parks

Where Do Parks Come From?

How San Jose Buys Parks

San Jose residents often ask, “How can our neighborhood get a park?” At present, there are three sources of new parks in San Jose—all depend on being near new housing developments. One method:  a developer of new housing will provide land for a new park. Examples include many new parks in North San Jose.  Alternatively, the City collects Park fees from developers of new housing. The fees go into the “Park Trust Fund” to be used only in the nearby neighborhoods of the new housing. Park Trust Fund money is also used for major “capital” repairs. Finally, the City can apply for grants. These grants have matching funds requirements that tap the Park Trust Fund. This means new parks are now limited to areas near new housing complexes. Established neighborhoods far from new housing have no source of funds. To learn more about the Park Trust Fund and how it works, click on Park Trust Fund FAQ.

The City of San Jose has other options for new parks that it is not currently using. Some of the choices include: bonds, general funds, parcel taxes, and special financing.  San Jose voters are familiar with bond measures that built community centers and refurbished parks.  The Arcadia Softball complex in Evergreen is the last bond project.  General fund dollars paid for many of the parks in the City during the 1950s and 1960s:  Willow Street and Kelley Parks are good examples.  General fund money combined with Federal flood control and State Resources money to make Lake Cunningham Park. Family members donated the land that became downtown’s Pellier Park, which is awaiting reconstruction.  The San Jose Financing Authority bought the two newer golf courses. (According to staff, these golf courses are not parks and don’t have the same legal protections as parks, but are managed by the Parks Department and look like parks to us, so we’ll fight to protect the land from sale to any developers!) Read more about financing in the Greenprint—the City’s master plan for parks.

Other jurisdictions use a variety of sources to finance new parks.  The City of San Jose could ask voters to approve these successful programs. Santa Clara County uses a Park Charter Fund to buy new parks. The County sets aside a portion of property tax revenue that always goes to parks.  The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority uses a parcel tax to fund its land acquisition. In other communities, special park districts are formed that operate separately from city finances.  For example, Greater Vallejo Park District was unaffected by City of Vallejo’s bankruptcy. Voters created and funded parks separately.

What should the City of San Jose do?  What financing method San Jose Park Advocates lobby for? Let us know. Join us in our drive for more parks for San Jose.

Lake Almaden Park - Black-Crowned Night Herons Nest

Black-crowned Night Herons

Bird advocates found 13 Black-crowned night herons at Almaden Park. The birds are nesting in small oak trees and  visitors to observe the birds as they raise their young - and herons and egret are very vocal and beautiful and hilariously funny when they raise their young. Learn more about the birds at

Volunteers will be leading tours on weekends.

Shady Oaks Park

Some nice pics of the Shady Oaks Park in the Coyote Creek Neighborhood in South San Jose.


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