San Jose Parks Advocates April 18, 2018


Mollie Tobias, Program Manager, Volunteer services, City of San Jose

Pat Pizzo, Project Manager, Native Plant Islands, Fontana Park

Greg Pizzo, Los Paseos Neighborhood Association

Marsey Kahn and Jennifer Roberts, Thousand Oaks Park

Water Troubles: Soaring Costs, Old Irrigation Equipment, Stressed Trees, Unusable Turf

The City parks are using 20% less water than before the “Big Drought” and we can see it in stressed turf and trees. This year’s water costs are budgeted at $6 Million with another major rate increase is coming. Without enough water, weeds take over the turf creating tripping hazards, ground squirrels flourish, and trees weaken and die. The city’s public face looks ragged. PRNS needs money for water. There are solutions that use less water–smart irrigation controllers that respond to the weather; updated irrigation systems, improved turf with drought tolerant varieties, and bringing recycled water service to more parks.  These improvements take money.  And that’s where you can make a difference.

Write the Mayor, Councilmembers, and City Manager’s Office about Park’s Water Troubles

  1. Ask that the PRNS water budget reflect actual costs that include the upcoming rate increases, and automatically increment each year to reflect rate increases. Tell them it is unacceptable to force PRNS to get money for water by delaying the hiring of maintenance personnel and the purchase of replacement equipment such as mowers.  Water is critical to the infrastructure of parks–the trees, the playability of turf, and its aesthetic value. Tell them a water story from your park.
  2. Ask that the proposed November 2018 bond measure and the annual Capital Budget include money to install SMART irrigation controllers, repair and replace the irrigation systems, and replace and rehabilitate turf with drought-tolerant varieties in order to save the most water and money. Give examples of bad irrigation and drought impacts from your own park experience. Mention the dead trees killed by reduced watering and drought and the replacement trees you have planted that will need water. Tell them how usage has changed after turf became weedy. Ask that a long-term plan be developed.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Council heard a report on the ranger program on April 17.  PRNS is switching to central dispatch instead of fixed post. There are more classifications: Top Dog, Asst. Top Dog, 4 supervisors, senior rangers, entry level. This ladder plus better salaries attracted more applicants and there are only a few vacancies. Now they are wondering whether rangers should be armed.  Multiple letters were received from current and former rangers and loved ones as well as members of national park association. They told stories of scary encounters in SJ and elsewhere. Councilmembers discussed the idea of moving rangers to police department. No report mentioned that there used to be a POLICE PARK PATROL  in addition to rangers.  A six month study is underway with PRNS, SJPD, SJFire, Water District, Housing, Fish and Game, CA Water Board, Environmental Department.  The interdisciplinary task force appears to be designed to deal with the waterways/rivers and illegal activities in the creek beds and not problems in the neighborhoods.

The task force plans to consult with Creek Clean-up groups, but do not plan to speak with neighborhood or regional park groups or users even though there are criminal incidents and user conflicts in those parks.

The task force will be

  • Defining and clarifying the main roles of a Park Ranger;
  • Defining the types and levels of service needed in creek areas, neighborhood parks, 
regional parks, and trails;
  • Identifying and addressing community and Park Ranger safety concerns;
  • Reviewing and analyzing the need for Park Rangers to be armed, relative to the necessary 
scope of services provided by the Park Ranger classification, and respond with a 
recommendation on this issue;
  • Defining the appropriate level of safety equipment for Park Rangers;
  • Reviewing Park Ranger training needs for part-time and full-time staff;
  • Defining the funding needs for the recommended Park Ranger Service delivery model; Delineating and designating Police and Park Ranger priority responses for various types of park safety conditions and incidents;
  • Identifying alternative options to the Park Ranger service delivery model and explore how identified alternatives would impact the Park Ranger Program and the City; and
  • Conducting an examination of whether the Park Ranger Program would fit existing community needs more efficiently by being placed under the supervision of the Police Department.

More info is available at City Council Agenda for April 17, Item 5.1

Community Budget Meetings and proposed budget

There will be FIVE meetings in the neighborhoods after the draft budget is released May 1. Then all of the departments will present to council during daytime hearings.  Mayor’s budget comes out June 1.

Go to the community budget meetings and talk about PARKS. Water.  The importance of parks in daily public life of the community. Tell your park story.

All meetings are 6 to 8 pm

Thursday May 10 at Pearl Library, 4270 Pearl Avenue

Monday May 14 at Environmental Innnovation Center 1608 Las Plumas

Thursday May 17 at Bascom Community Center 1000 S Bascom

Monday May 21 at Mt. Pleasant High School 1750 S White

Wednesday May 23 at Seven Trees Community Center 3590 Cas Dr.

Amenity Fees for Urban Villages

The council will have a study session on April 26 about development fees for the urban villages—the new high density housing that is planned for housing 400,000 new residents. Developers would like low fees, but amenities, like open space cost money. Earlier this month they learned in a study session the importance of public open space and daily public life  in creating community cohesion and attachment to a city. It is linked to happiness. It is important that the council be reminded of the importance of public open space near the new residents. Ask that fees be assigned to the urban villages for open space and that Park Trust Fund fees stay in the urban villages and not be used miles away from the new residents. The final council vote will be May 1 or May 8.  WRITE,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,


PRNS took over most of the HR tasks and was able to fill 40+ open positions in fall 2017. They continue to replace workers as they leave, get promoted, or go on leave. Since PRNS is no longer dependent on HR staffing to fill the jobs, maintenance should improve. There are NINE new positions approved in June 2017.  Park conditions were assessed in July and August 2017, so this year’s report does not reflect the increased staffing. For this reason, the department did not ask for more workers this year. Park conditions will be assessed again in Summer 2018.


Council asked staff to prepare a list of projects for a possible bond measure. The Mayor wants to projects to save money.  Among other ideas, PRNS is proposing smart irrigation controllers that are linked together so that they can be handled all at once without travelling to each site to change watering schedules for the season. WATER is key to beautiful parks. Please write.