Greenbelt Alliance Endorses Park Bond Bill: What It Means for the Bay Area and State

When you go to the polls (or fill out your mail-in ballot) in California on June 5, 2018, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for the first parks and water bond that has been on a statewide ballot in 12 years. Senate Bill 5the Park Bond Billpassed out of both the Assembly and the Senate this past legislative session in Sacramento. Governor Brown signed the bill in October of 2017 and now, the $4.1 billion bond bill, supporting parks, water projects, and climate adaptation efforts throughout the state of California, will be brought to the voters in this year’s primary election.

Here at Greenbelt Alliance, we’re excited to announce that we have enthusiastically endorsed the Park Bond Bill ballot measure and will be joining our partners in the Bay Area—the Bay Area Open Space Council and the East Bay Regional Park District—along with other statewide environmental organizations to carry out an intensive statewide campaign to support the Park Bond Bill ballot measure.

Where would the $4.1 billion dollars be spent?

The funding from the Park Bond Bill is technically split into over a dozen different “pots”, each of which fall into 4 main categories: parks, flood, water, and climate adaptation. A detailed list of expenditures can be found here.

In a recent Mercury News article, Bay Area Open Space Council Executive Director, Deb Callahan, noted that the measure contains $1 billion in competitive grants that are open to all regions of the state and that the Bay Area historically has done well in applying for them.

Parks

One of the largest allocations of the Park Bond Bill is $725 million for parks in “park-poor neighborhoods.” According to California Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, funding from the Park Bond Bill is “the single largest investment in the history of the United States to park-starved communities.”

Another $285 million will be allocated as local grant monies supporting local parks, regional park districts, and open space districts. Existing state parks in California will receive $218 million to improve public access and catch up on deferred maintenance.

Flood

In a recent opinion piece, the Vice President of the Sierra Club, Susana Reyes, and California State Senator and Park Bond bill sponsor Anthony Portantino wrote, “Five years of severe drought followed by heavy rains have magnified the lingering aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn, leaving our state with a substantial need to invest in deteriorating local and regional parks and aging water infrastructure, dams, reservoirs, and flood protection.”

The Park Bond Bill, if passed by California voters, will provide $550 million for flood protection and repair. This will include $350 million for flood protection, $100 million for stormwater, mudslide, and other flood-related protections, and another $100 million for urban multibenefit flood projects.

Water

Over $1 billion dollars of Park Bond Bill funding would be allocated to “water projects” throughout the state, including: $290 for regional water sustainability, $250 million for clean and safe drinking water, $175 million for ocean and coastal protection, $162 million for rivers, creeks, and waterways, $100 for water recycling, and $80 million for groundwater cleanup.

Notable water projects near the Bay Area include:

  • $3 million to restore Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River in San Jose.
  • $3 million to restore the Russian River in Sonoma County.
  • $20 million for the Coastal Conservancy to help fund Bay Area wetlands restoration.
Climate Preparedness

According to State Senator Portantino, the Park Bond Bill will allocate $443 million for climate adaptation and resilience and $767 million for wildlife conservation and state conservancies. Much of this funding will protect and expand wildlife corridors, and will fund adaptation projects for fish and waterfowl and fire resiliency projects in the Sierras and Cascades. The Bay Area Conservancy Program’s climate work will also receive funding from this category.

What other organizations are supporting the Park Bond Bill?

There are many statewide and regional environmental organizations supporting the Park Bond Bill. Dedicated statewide organizations include the Trust for Public Land, California Council of Land Trusts, California State Parks Foundation, American Farmland Trust, and Audubon California, among many others. Prominent regional supporters include the Bay Area Open Space Council, East Bay Regional Park District, and Greenbelt Alliance.

If you are part of an organization that is interested in learning more about the Park Bond Bill and potentially endorsing the measure, we would love to work with you on that effort. Please email Amy at ahartman@greenbelt.org or call 707-400-0541 to get more information about how to work on the endorsement process.

How will Greenbelt Alliance support the Park Bond Bill?

Greenbelt Alliance is excited to be a part of a statewide coalition—the Committee for Clean Water, Natural Resources, and Parks—that will be leading the campaign efforts for the ballot measure. We will focus our organizing efforts in Solano County, where we’ve been working to create a countywide park and open space district. Solano County is the only county in the Bay Region that doesn’t have a park and open space district and the Park Bond Bill efforts will serve as a way to further build momentum and excitement around the possibility of a Solano Park and Open Space District.

How can you get involved?

  • Reach out to your elected officials, local environmental group (i.e. Sierra Club chapter) and/or community group to get their endorsement for the Park Bond Bill.
  • Tell your friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the upcoming Park Bond Bill ballot measure on June 5, 2018.
  • Follow the Greenbelt Alliance blog for campaign updates and ways that you can volunteer on the campaign (i.e. make phone calls, knock on doors, donate to the campaign).
  • Learn more about the Park Bond Bill campaign and about upcoming legislative initiatives during the 2018 legislative session at the Bay Area Open Space Council’s Policy Gathering on January 25th in Berkeley. More details and registration information can be found here.

Photo: Joshua Sortino via Unsplash

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