Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Year In Review Safe Routes to School Gilroy

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) had another successful year in Gilroy.  The Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (#GilroyBPAC) along with Santa Clara County Public Health (SCCPHD) took a leadership position in getting all the stakeholders in the City to come together to form a Safe Routes to School Task Force. SCCPHD secured funding to lead us through the formation of our action plan, which will guide and sustain the program for the long term. 

We presented our 2018 work plan to City Council and SRTS is our top priority.  One reason why is the economic benefits that spill over into the City when we stay local and play local.  When you engage the youth to walk and ride to school they become more comfortable with their streets, neighbors, and surroundings.  Suddenly walking and riding to Downtown, Gilroy Gardens, Sports Park, Nob Hill, The Patio, and the newest Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist project along the Bike/Ped path seem a lot quicker and easier than driving in your car. Shifty Cycles has free bike valet for Downtown Live, Tamal Festival, and Bonanza Day Parade.  Look for more Bike/Ped oriented open streets events.

The Gilroy BPAC plans on introducing a resolution to City Council to recognize Walk & Roll each Wednesday. Rucker Elementary will have their first Walk & Roll Wednesday in October. We reached out to each High School last year to participate in the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Bike to the Future Event which was held at Gilroy Gardens, and several students that have been leaders in their middle school SRTS programs are moving onto High School.  Our Gilroy BPAC April Monthly Award recipient Karina Rodriguez plans to start a SRTS Committee at Gilroy High School. 

The Specialized Foundation Riding For Focus program began this year at Ascencion Solorsano Middle School. We helped P.E. Teacher Anthony Fucella apply for the grant and we wrote a letter of support for this great program. 

I’m excited to announce that getting a bike park located in Gilroy has made it farther than ever when City Council unanimously approved direction to staff to draft a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Gilroy and Garlic City BMX so that Garlic City BMX can proceed with site evaluation, project development, and fundraising activities for the construction of a proposed dirt pump track at Christmas Hill Park.  Having places like this that are open to public year round in our parks support our efforts for biking to school and playing local.  You will be able to access the pump track from the current bike/ped trails.

SRTS summary reports for residential developments are in the packets for Planning Commission and City Council now.  This is information for them to see what the strengths and weaknesses are for current infrastructure.

We encourage you to nominate someone for our monthly award within Gilroy that strives to make Gilroy a better place in regards to biking and pedestrian activities.   Come to one of our meetings on the 4th Tuesday of each month 6pm at the City Council Chambers, or email any of us.  We are constantly advocating for Complete Streets, Safe Routes to School, and bicycle/pedestrian friendly infrastructure. 

The youth in our community will shape the future, but its up to us to show them the way.  Like Mark Fenton has famously said lets create a community full of “free range children”!  If you are looking for ways to get involved then look to the schools that need parent volunteers and join a City of Gilroy Commission.  The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission will have one open seat this December.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Role of a City Commissioner

The role of a City Commissioner is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Commissioners are appointed by the City Council after an application and interview process in the public view.  They provide direct feedback to the City Council in areas that they study and advocate for. They set goals each year based off what the City Council's goals are.  They work for the City Council, and align with them.  They create work plans and bring fresh new ideas to the table. Being a Commissioner means that you put the needs of the Community before yours. 

It's up to those in the Community that want to get involved, go get involved. You can't come in last minute and expect change to occur. To be apart of the process is more than just showing up to a few meetings and missing others. It's about watching and reading minutes from all involved. I do feel that the City should enhance their transparency by providing audio/video recording of select Commissions.  Reading minutes and agendas isn’t the best way to enhance transparency and get engagement of the Community.  Going LIVE on social media and other outlets would be ideal.  As a Commissioner you should know the direction of the Council and watch a project go through the process. You can see the current projects on the City’s website under Community Development.  Projects go through months and years of planning, and every step of the way gains public comment that is used. 

Commissions have historically provided a platform for those that want to run for City Council and Mayor because you can gain experience with the process from a different point.  You get to know the City Staff, City Council, and developers from meetings.  It’s a position for you to show the voters what you can accomplish and build a trust with the Community.  It’s your duty to act professionally while representing your Commission locally and regionally.

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Carol Marques is running for the City Council two-year term against current City Council Member Dan Harney.  This is a short amount of time to come in fresh and make an impact, but it can be done.  I’ve watched Council Member Dan Harney make a difference.  Parks & Recreation Commissioner Carol Marques was appointed in January 2018.  What are her accomplishments on the Parks & Recreation Commission that didn’t benefit her?  Not sure. When you watch her interview she states that she wanted to focus on safety at Las Animas Park. Las Animas Park is where she hosts her Tennis Club matches.  She has missed regular meetings, one of which was the Annual Arbor Day Celebration at Carriage Hills Park and annual work plan discussion for her Commission that followed.  I was there and watched the neighbors of the park talk to the Commission about the safety at their park and what they have experienced.  

Prove to us that are raising families in Gilroy why we should put you in power when we haven’t seen any support for things that matter to us. We want safe routes to school, jobs, downtown parks, housing, and economic development support for upscale destinations such as Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist District.  Instead as Vice-Chair of the small and elite groups like Gilroy Growing Smarter, Carol did everything in her power to make Great Wolf Lodge and the Hecker Pass Ag-Tourist developers not feel welcome.  Why should we elect someone that’s currently in a position to support our values of the greater community, but focuses on making sure her tennis club at Las Animas is taken care of?