Voters passed Proposition 40, the last true park bond, 15 years ago and 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. Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) proposed new funding for parks to address this need. Although there are differences between the measures, both authors have indicated their willingness to work together.
(E. Garcia), the California Clean Water, Climate, and Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access For All Act authorizes $3.005 billion in General Obligation bonds to finance parks, water, climate adaptation, coastal protection and outdoor access programs. This League-supported bill is up for its first hearing next week on Feb. 7 in the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee.
Direct funding for local governments and grants for park-poor neighborhoods are among the funding allocations of interest to cities. AB 18 includes $425 million for park rehabilitation and improvement grants to cities and counties, which would go out on a per capita basis. Cities are slated to directly receive 60 percent of the $425 million, with each city receiving a minimum of $200,000. In addition, it includes $900 million for safe neighborhood parks in park-poor areas, as well as a range of additional grant programs through which cities may receive awards.
(de León), the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 proposes $3 billion in General Obligation bonds to be directed to both parks and water projects.
Of the $3 billion, $1.5 would be dedicated to parks. Park-poor neighborhoods would be eligible for $600 million for safe neighborhood parks. Local governments would also receive $15 million for local park rehabilitation and improvement grants, which would be distributed on a per capita basis. 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 League has met with the Senate President pro Tem’s staff and will continue discussions on this proposal.
The additional $1.5 billion is designated for drinking water and drought preparedness. Priorities include improving drinking water quality, safe and reliable drinking water, improving regional water self-reliance security, water recycling and advanced treatment technology projects, and preventing or cleaning up contaminated groundwater.
This bill has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, as well as the Governance and Finance Committee.