November 2016 Newsletter
|November 2016 Newsletter|
Over the years, I have received a steady stream of phone calls from residents complaining about litter, dumping, graffiti and homeless encampments on state freeway property.
In response, I have directed my local office to work with the California Department of Transportation, local governments, and community activists to combat the trashing of our highways. Now, representatives of all the groups meet together, four times a year, to identify the worst areas that need help first.
Roadside trash and vandalism are persistent problems but progress is being made.
To fight blight, I have conducted several neighborhood clean-ups that have enlisted the help of Caltrans to trim overgrown vegetation and collect litter from freeway shoulders and ramps at Interstate 680 and King Road; Tully and Story roads; and Highway 87 and Capitol Expressway.
After being contacted by my office a few weeks ago, Caltrans crews tackled a graffiti-spackled sound wall on northbound Highway 101 at the intersection of Interstate 280-680, applying 45 gallons of paint on surface of 13,500 square feet.
Caltrans' fight to keep our highways clean is a never-ending and expensive battle. In 2015, Caltrans spent $76 million on litter removal. Caltrans collected enough trash to fill 9,500 garbage trucks. The trucks, if laid end-to-end, would stretch from San Jose to Berkeley.
Over 16,000 cubic yards of debris was collected by Caltrans' South Bay district, which includes San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Cupertino. Over 1.2 million square feet of graffiti was removed.
I have relayed residents' concerns regarding blight to Caltrans officials and how it has affected their neighborhoods. In response, Caltrans said it is moving to fill 29 vacant maintenance crew openings in the South Bay district, exploring the possibility of filling the jobs through the California Conservation Corps, the San Jose Conservation Corps, and other local organizations.
To report blight on state freeways and right-of-ways, visit Caltrans' maintenance service request website.
Two years ago, I introduced Senate Bill 628 to spur housing construction near transportation. The bill, signed into law by Governor Brown, gives local governments a new way to fund transportation projects and neighboring affordable housing by creating financing districts.
Unlike projects that were financed by redevelopment districts, those created under SB 628 do not take property tax revenue and growth from school districts. They also have a much higher degree of public accountability and transparency.
SB 628 requires the people's approval to create an enhanced infrastructure financing district as well as informing voters of the projects that will be created. A 55 percent majority of voters is required for approval to issue bonds. Under the defunct redevelopment district system, the public had no say in what projects were chosen, effectively cutting residents out of the conversation about how their communities would be shaped.
By making it easier to both improve mass transit hubs and build homes nearby, SB 628 reduces urban sprawl, cutting greenhouse gas emission.
I believe the bill takes on new relevance in light of a report released last month that said California can ease its housing shortage by targeting currently vacant and residential-zoned properties around mass transit hubs to build 3 million homes and apartments.
For San Jose, SB 628 takes on new relevance because of plans to make Diridon Station the biggest mass transit rail hub west of the Mississippi River with connections to Caltran, Altamont Corridor Express, Amtrak, VTA rail, commuter bus links, and future BART service.
"Transit-oriented development creates compact, mixed-use communities clustered around public transit hubs," the McKinsey Global Institute report said.
"Transit stations connect residents to job centers, and, just as importantly, transit stations become community catalysts in their own right, featuring parks, retail, restaurants, an improved pedestrian environment, and diverse housing choices."
My district offices in Campbell and downtown San Jose have openings for college-level interns who would like to gain valuable work experience.
These internships provide students offer insight into the workings of State government and help develop useful job skills. The positions are unpaid.
For more information contact Senior Field Representative Domingo Candelas in the Senate District 15 local office by phone at (408) 558-1295 or by emailing your resume to Domingo.Candelas@sen.ca.gov.