Public funding is raining down on Silicon Valley cities


Three towns in Santa Clara County are receiving a windfall of state funding for a number of community projects.

Assemblyman Alex Lee secured nearly $32 million for the five cities in his district – the largest allocation the region has seen, according to the elected official.

San Jose received the lion’s share with $10 million to build a school gymnasium in the Berryessa Union School District. Milpitas received $2.5 million for homeless services and bike lanes and Santa Clara got $800,000 to complete an all-inclusive playground in Central Park. The neighboring cities of Newark and Fremont are receiving nearly $18 million for citywide infrastructure projects such as broadband, bike lanes, community centers and other support services .

“Coming out of the pandemic, in this recession, there are a lot of inequities. With record surpluses two years in a row, it’s only fitting that we reinvest those gains back into the community so everyone can succeed,” Lee told San Jose Spotlight. “Selected projects (try) to maximize the greatest good for all my cities and for as many people as possible.”

Lee was elected in 2020 to serve in Assembly District 25. After the district maps were redrawn in 2021, he landed in the newly formed Assembly District 24 which also includes Milpitas, Fremont, Newark and the Berryessa area north of San Jose. The new boundaries were adopted through a redistricting process that occurs once a decade. About 53.81% of voters in the newly formed district are Asian Americans. The progressive candidate made history as the first openly bisexual and one of the youngest members of the assembly at 26. He is currently running for re-election.

Lee said he was “thrilled” to secure the millions in funding for District 25, noting that the projects align with state goals to address homelessness and improve infrastructure. The most exciting allocations are the $2 million in homeless services for Milpitas and Fremont, he said.

Milpitas received $1.5 million for homelessness support and prevention services. Mayor Rich Tran said this would be split between three major projects: a secure parking site at the BART station, the showers and clean laundry program for homeless residents, and a resource navigation center.

“It’s extremely helpful to receive this funding for our city,” Tran told San Jose Spotlight. “The $1.5 million for homelessness prevention couldn’t have come at a better time.

He said the $1 million allocation to build more bike lanes is also exciting. The combined $2.5 million is the largest allocation Milpitas has received from the state Assembly, Tran said.

“We don’t have these huge budgets like San Jose which is quadruple our budget, or even 10 times or 20 times our budget,” Tran said. “So for a small town like Milpitas, we’re really grateful and grateful for the funding.”

Piedmont Middle School athletic director Carly Pridham said she was also enjoying it. Students at North San Jose Middle School have used a multi-purpose hall since 1959 with shattered windows for physical education and sports practices after school. The $10 million for a new gym will be transformative, Pridham said.

“The multi-purpose hall is an old facility and so something new and shiny, I think, brings camaraderie and things like that for the students,” Pridham told San Jose Spotlight. “They can be proud of their campus when other teams come to play.”

The funding will provide a new facility with a full-size middle school basketball court and bleacher sections that can accommodate 180 people. The state pays most of the bill, with a total construction cost of $11.9 million.

Pridham said the only downside is that the new gymnasium will be built where the softball field is, but that will solve congestion around the multipurpose hall where students eat lunch and where other school activities take place.

In Santa Clara, state funding will help complete the one-acre all-inclusive playground at the city’s Central Park. It will help fund ADA renovations for Arbor Area restrooms and the installation of shade structures in the Arbor Center group picnic area. Without the state infusion, the city would have had to cut several amenities, according to Lee’s office.

“Often times, projects like these run out of funding, so allocations like this allow them to move faster and finish on time,” Lee said. “I hope to get even more money next year for my district.”

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.


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