Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sup. Dave Cortese - Day on the Bay in Alviso - Oct. 2013

Photo: Dave Cortese website
Supervisor Dave Cortese Discusses the Water Trail, Alviso
October 8, 2013

This interview was spurred by the fourth annual Day on the Bay (October 13, 2013), in Alviso, CA, at the southern end of San Francisco Bay. While overlapping with San Jose, CA, Alviso has a special history all its own, and (the Alviso Marina) will be celebrated as a designated Water Trail site this week. Supervisor Dave Cortese, a founder of the Day on the Bay celebration, was excited about Alviso's rich cultural past as well as the area's bright prospects for the future.

I caught up with the busy Santa Clara County Supervisor, who represents District 3, by phone.

(Note: after the interview, this post was updated on Oct. 20, '13, to include photos of the Day on the Bay 2013. Photos appear below. The event was a success, and several dozens of people waited in line for kayak rides after the Alviso Marina site was officially designated.)

How did you become interested in the San Francisco Bay Trail and the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail? 

"(I'm) one of the Supervisors who has a lot of assignments at the regional level. I was appointed to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and was the president of ABAG for (a while). I then was appointed to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and various committees.

I received a report on the Water Trail and a Powerpoint presentation, and became interested. I was chairing a meeting and talked with Laura Thompson (ABAG SF Bay Trail project mgr.) about following up on (promoting) the County Marina (in Alviso). "Do we qualify for being a part of this (Water Trail)?" I thought.

In a perfect world, what would be your vision of the San Francisco Bay Water Trail?

I have a desire for Alviso to be (the) South Bay's version of (what) the Bay should be.

Each of the major cities have, as part of their identity, a port, e.g. Port of Oakland, or San Francisco;  and we have lesser versions of the same kind of relationships (Redwood City). Then you have San Jose, a large city, with lots of bayfront. (And) it's a big secret.

I noticed that you're involved in the Silicon Valley Kids Climate Club. What are you seeing in the next generation of leaders that might help ?
Alviso - Day on the Bay

Yes, young people in Alviso are aware (about the Bay and climate change). It's in their back yards. I visited Alviso schools where they were very close to the water. The embrace the shoreline.

Those kids are no different than the other 450,000 (approximate #) of other kids in Santa Clara County. It's almost tragic. There is a dramatic underutilization of a natural resource. It's a perfect natural laboratory -- and one way to put Alviso back on the map,... (we haven't had something like this) since the days of Jack London.*

The South Bay can become perhaps the best recreation access point, with nature, the marine ecosystem (that we have). It's a great opportunity to create a place (on the Trail) where we have sunshine almost year round. We have a marine access point to Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge (DEWR, aka Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge) that we haven't capitalized on in Santa Clara County.

I talk to kids -- in Santa Cruz, San Diego, other cities (water is a major part of their identity, yet it hasn't caught on here). Yet, when you look at what we built -- bay access to DEWR. There isn't any major city that has that.

Do you have a favorite water craft of type of boat (kayak, canoe?) that you, or your family, have enjoyed taking out on the Bay?

No, I'm not really there quite yet. I love getting outdoors, as much as my schedule permits. I do have two boys, who may be interested. We'll probably get into this soon.

Are there any misunderstandings that the public seem to have about the Bay Trail or the Water Trail that prevent them from fully enjoying these public resources?

(There is a) basic lack of information. For example, there was a big car show last week. I was meeting with some people there. And one of the kids asked where (the Bay Trail, Marina and Water Trail) were? This, even though we were just a few miles away.

Just designating Alviso (as part of the Water Trail on Sunday, October 13), will help increase awareness. (Kayakers will be there at the unveiling to paddle from the marina out into the Bay. See photos.)

The last two photographs of kayaks at Alviso (taken before the event): Courtesy of Galli Basson

*Famous author Jack London used to boat down to Alviso. Supervisor Cortese mentioned old photographs that show Alviso's rich history. "Wedding receptions were held there, groups of judges hung out there, there were farm families (who influenced the area)." Cortese acknowledged that some may have been put off by the large sewage treatment plant that was built in the area; but there are many other things to see (such as the educational center by the water, walking trails (Bay Trail, Guadalupe River Trail), and the historic town of Alviso itself).

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