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Lawmakers Negotiate Park and Water Bond

Cities Urged to Support Per Capita Funding for City Parks

August 18, 2017
With the Legislature returning from the summer recess, negotiations continue on a bond measure to fund parks and water projects.
Several measures are moving through the legislative and initiative processes that would place either a park, water, or combined bond in the June 2018 ballot. Among the key issues for cities is the question of whether the bond will include a per capita allocation for city and county park improvement grants.

The four bond measures are as follows:
  • AB 18 (E. Garcia), which the League supports, would provide $3.105 billion for parks, clean water, climate, and coastal protection. It includes $425 million in direct funding for park rehabilitation and improvement grants to cities and counties to be distributed on a per capita basis. Cities are slated to receive 60 percent of the $425 million, with each city receiving a minimum of $200,000. 
  • SB 5 (de León), on which the League has taken a support if amended position, is a $3.832 billion measure containing funding for parks, drought and drinking water projects, and flood protection. This measure includes $200 million for local park rehabilitation and improvement grants, which would be distributed on a per capita basis. Of this, cities are slated to receive 60 percent, with a minimum allocation of $125,000. An additional $15 million would be reserved for grants for cities and parks districts in urbanized counties with populations of fewer than 200,000. 
  • The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Natural Resources Protection and Park Improvement Act of 2018 by proponent Joseph Caves, would provide $7.5 billion to finance safe drinking water and water quality projects, climate resilience projects, and state and local parks improvements. This measure includes $400 million for local parks to be allocated on a per capita basis with each city receiving a minimum of $200,000. 
  • State Water Supply Infrastructure, Water Storage and Conveyance, Ecosystem and Watershed Protection and Restoration, and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2018 by proponent Gerald Meral, would provide $8.3 billion primarily dedicated to safe drinking water, water recycling and desalination, flood management, and other water projects. This measure does not contain funding for local parks.
The League urges the authors to maintain the $425 million per capita allocation to cities and counties that is currently found in AB 18. As all cities would benefit from this level of funding, cities that support parks funding are encouraged to reach out to these legislators. Park bond funding is critical for struggling city parks.
The last true park bond, Proposition 40, passed 15 years ago. Since then parks have suffered through the Great Recession as cities struggled to shore up shrinking budgets. Many parks departments have not recovered and are still weighed down by deferred maintenance.
The potential park and water bond has also been tied to a possible housing bond, which the Legislature continues to negotiate.

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