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Urban Parks: The Community’s Backyard

Someone once mentioned in passing to me that the 21st Century would be the century of the landscape architect. This makes sense in the face of a dramatic shift away from endless suburban and exurban development to a more urban future. Urban parks, trails, and plazas are essential elements of cities as more people choose to live in compact, walkable neighborhoods—they are the community’s backyard.

In a San Jose neighborhood like Buena Vista—which is densely populated, slated for more homes, yet seriously park-deficient—urban parks are more important than ever. However, the questions we must tackle first are: where will the parks go, and how can we fund them?

Back in 2002, Buena Vista and surrounding neighborhoods initiated plans for a park over Highway 280, which slices through the community. Today, that idea has largely been shelved, but should not be dismissed as some far out fantasy. San Jose is planning to transform this area into several urban villages, which would be a mix of more homes, jobs, and shops in a walkable setting. While parks are a part of the conversation, they seem to be more of an afterthought.

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