Creating a Park and Open Space District in Solano County
Greenbelt Alliance’s primary campaign in Solano County over the next three years will be the creation of a countywide park and open space district. Solano County is the only county in the nine-county Bay Area that does not yet have a district. Greenbelt Alliance is working closely with the County, each of the seven Solano cities, park district advocates, and residents of Solano County to make the district a reality.
What is a Countywide Park and Open Space District?
Treasured natural lands throughout the Bay Area and across the state of California are often maintained and managed by “special districts” called Countywide Park and Open Space Districts. If you have stepped foot on a trail in the region, it is likely that you were on lands purchased or maintained by an open space district.
Countywide park and open space districts create a system of parklands in a particular area. Districts preserve and protect natural areas and also operate a system of public parks, which include trails, educational programming, and outdoor recreational facilities.
Parks are expensive to maintain and improve. Districts are able to apply for grant funding and collect private donations to continually improve the beloved local lands within the district’s boundaries.
What’s already been done to create a countywide park district in Solano County?
In Solano County, there has been a great deal of grassroots support over the last two years to create a regional park and open space district. The Solano Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support the creation of a district in 2015 and subsequently brought on a team of advisors to begin the lengthy process of creating a district.
What do Solano County residents think about a countywide park district?
Advisors polled Solano County stakeholders and voters to see if they would support looking into a more coordinated system to manage parks. The answers were overwhelmingly affirmative. Citizens voiced the following (by percentage in favor):
- The availability of proximate parks, trails, and recreational opportunities improves quality of life (89%).
- Keeping parks properly maintained is a necessity (94%).
- Additional parklands and trails should be acquired and opened for use by Solano County residents (80%).
- The public would encourage County officials to continue to explore options for creating an integrated regional park and open space system (78%).
Local resident activist groups—including the Solano Sierra Club, the Solano Trails Advocacy Group, and the Orderly Growth Committee—have also voiced their support for creating a district.
Where is Solano County in the process of creating a countywide park district?
There is currently state legislation—SB365—that would allow the Solano Board of Supervisors to call for an election to create the district. The legislation is being sponsored by State Senator Bill Dodd and has been endorsed by the cities of Fairfield, Vacaville, Vallejo, Benicia, Rio Vista, and Suisun City. It was passed out of the Senate in May 2017 and is now in the Assembly.
The next two years will require an extensive outreach and education campaign in Solano County to talk with residents about their vision for a district. Creating a district will then require a countywide ballot measure in the 2020 election.
What parks would be included in a countywide park district?
Parks already operated by the County will likely form the core of the district. These currently include Lake Solano, Belden Landing, Sandy Beach, and Lynch Canyon. In the future, other properties could be acquired or the cities, for example, could ask the district to manage places like Fairfield’s Rockville Hills Park.
The following map (created by the Solano County Department of Resource Management) includes potential parks and open spaces that could be included in the Solano Regional Park and Open Space District:
Where are similar Districts in the Bay Region?
To get a sense of what several other Bay Area districts look like, check out the following websites:
- East Bay Regional Parks District
- Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
- Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space District
How can I get involved?
We would love to talk more with you about the district. Please get in touch with Amy Hartman, our Solano County Regional Representative, for more information.