The County of Santa Clara

Board Referral
Approved as Amended
Feb 28, 2017 9:30 AM

Consider recommendations relating to the establishment of an All-Inclusive Playground Matching Fund and Grant Program. (Simitian/Chavez)


Department:Supervisor S. Joseph Simitian (Supervisorial District Five)Sponsors:
Category:Board Referral

Multiple Recommendations

Possible action:
a. Direct administration to develop an all-inclusive playground grant program and review committee, such that the first grant applications can be accepted by October 2017, with the first grants disbursed by December 2017.
b. Allocate $5 million on a one-time basis from the 2012 Measure A reserve and $5 million on a one-time basis from Excess ERAF funds or other one-time funds into a designated reserve to be used on a matching basis for the construction of one or two all-inclusive playgrounds in each of the five Supervisorial Districts.



$10 million in matching funds will be distributed from a reserve created with a one-time $5 million allocation of 2012 Measure A funds and a one-time $5 million allocation of “Excess ERAF” funds, or another one-time only fund.


The FY17 Measure A reserve currently contains $11 million in unallocated one-time funds, of which $5 million would be moved to the all-inclusive playground matching grant reserve.


“Excess ERAF (Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund)” consists of surplus funds returned to cities, counties, and special districts in proportion to the amount of property taxes they contributed to ERAF. The Administration currently estimates that roughly $30 million in one-time “Excess ERAF” will be returned to the County in FY17, and roughly $36 million can be expected in FY18.



This referral seeks to create a matching fund to provide grants to local cities, non-profits and/or other governmental entities, including but not limited to school districts, interested in building all-inclusive playgrounds in their communities.


Over the past three years, the County has provided funds to cities and community groups aiming to build all-inclusive playgrounds in their communities.  In San Jose, Palo Alto, and Morgan Hill, the County has partnered with local cities and non-profits to build playgrounds built specifically to make play accessible for all families – including children and parents with physical or cognitive disabilities. In each of these instances, these efforts were funded because the County found that play for children with disabilities represented a regional need that required County involvement. The creation of these playgrounds was found to be consistent with the County’s longstanding commitment to partnering with local cities to promote parks and recreation experiences of county-wide and regional significance.  In each case, the County helped fill a critical financing gap, but each playground was funded through a series of partnerships with municipal and community funders.


To say that the parks completed so far – the Rotary PlayGarden in San Jose and the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto – have been a success would be an understatement. Families drive for miles to experience these parks that children and parents of all abilities can enjoy. Schools, senior centers, and independent living providers bring their clients on buses to experience a playground that is uniquely accessible to children and adults of varying abilities. The parks are becoming overcrowded as they are in high demand – both by families with children with disabilities, and families who haven’t faced disability.


In order to more effectively meet this demonstrated regional need, this matching fund will make $10 million in matching funds available to local cities and non-profits who want to bring an all-inclusive playground to their community. A committee of five qualified reviewers, appointed by the administration, (including three staff and/or community members, one of whom will serve as chair, as well as Supervisors Simitian and Chavez) will review grant applications and may approve up to $2 million in funds in each supervisorial district – either a minimum of $1 million each for two parks in a district, or a maximum of one $2 million grant for one park in each district.


Once grantees are selected, grants will be disbursed via contracts approved by the Board of Supervisors. The first round of grant applications will be due in October 2017, with disbursements of grants by late 2017. Funds should be distributed via several rounds of grant applications, with funding committed to projects by the end of 2018. If funds remain, the matter should return to the Board of Supervisors for discussion and deliberation regarding the potential uses for the remainder of the funds. 


While not every city in the County can take on this task, with our assistance, each region in our County will have facilities to ensure that families with disabilities can experience recreational activities on a playground. Even once the Morgan Hill playground is built, more of the parks need to be distributed throughout the County given the geographical size of Santa Clara County and the road congestion facing families.


Matching funds are particularly helpful because all-inclusive playgrounds are still unique, and thus cost more than typical playgrounds, as much of the playground equipment must be custom built. Our regional commitment to all-inclusive play could help prove a concept to park designers that might inspire a national movement towards all-inclusive playgrounds. 


Among other requirements determined by the administration, these grant proposals must include:

                     Elements that make the park accessible not only to the 10% of those with disabilities in wheelchairs, but also to the 90% of those with disabilities who are not in wheelchairs. These include elements to address the needs of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Visual and Auditory Impairments, Cognitive, Developmental and Physical Disabilities;


                     Design that goes above and beyond minimum standards set by the Americans with Disabilities act, to ensure that children and parents with disabilities can truly make use of the playground;


                     A plan for long-term playground maintenance and upkeep that is funded beyond the scope of the grant.



Over 10,000 children in Santa Clara County have “major disabilities,” and over 20,000 take advantage of special education in our schools. But with the exception of the Rotary PlayGarden in San Jose and the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, neither our County parks, nor city or school playgrounds, are truly accessible to them or any parents with disabilities.


The minimum standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act do not address ways to make sure children in wheelchairs can actually use the play equipment, or for the growing population of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to play safely and comfortably. They also don’t address the needs of children with feeding and breathing tubes, or those in need of structural support.


Playgrounds are important places for recreation and community building, and playgrounds are therapeutic for children with disabilities, who, like all children, benefit from the developmental milestones achieved in play.  These playgrounds also promote understanding between children with disabilities and those without – as they are one of few places where the children have equal access to play experiences.


Meeting History

Feb 28, 2017 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Taken out of order after Item No. 10.

Twenty-three individuals addressed the Board.

Approved as amended to set the minimum grant amount to $500,000.

MOVER:S. Joseph Simitian, Vice President
SECONDER:Cindy Chavez, Supervisor
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, S. Joseph Simitian
ABSENT:Ken Yeager


Feb 28, 2017 9:30 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoBoard of SupervisorsRegular Meeting

9:13 AMMade me think about opportunities there might be to address the history of our region so I want to support the motion and just ask that we include some research by staff to determine when and if there are appropriate opportunities to look at historical namings as well.
Thank you. some of that might be informed supervisor chavez in part by the nha national heritage task force although it's not a historical landmark task force. It's just gathering such information which May be helpful. Any other comments on the motion? We will go ahead and conclude the voting. All votes have now been cast and while we're tabulating them thank you very much and to the foundation for the efforts to bring dollars in from private donors. I appreciate it.
9:14 AMThank you.
That does carry 4-0 with the absence. Thank you.

9:14 AMIs a board referral under that section of the agenda. However, it's to be heard no earlier than 10:30 a. M. So we will pass on that item and come back to it shortly after that. If you're here to speak on item 10 bear with us.

9:15 AMTo which he would like to discuss in its regular order and that is now.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and forgive the on again, off again nature of the referral. We had gotten some questions and it gave me reason perhaps we should come back in a month but the more I thought about it the last day or two the more it seemed we might be able to revolve those questions here and -- resolve the questions here and move forward and I would like to thank supervisor wasserman for joining me in this effort. The title on the referral senior transportation pilot and I would underscore the notion of this being a pilot. At the risk of stating the obvious we have a couple of interesting factors coming together.