Funding public parks in a challenging financial climateSeptember 8, 2011
San Francisco’s parks are among the city’s most treasured assets — but they’re also in serious financial trouble. The city’s Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) has lost more than 25 percent of its General Fund revenue in just five years. Meanwhile, labor costs have gone up 34 percent. This mix of factors has forced the department to make dramatic cuts. The RPD has lost 150 staff positions in the past seven years, and deferred maintenance costs have reached $1.4 billion.
The RPD’s current annual budget is $127.9 million. SPUR’s task force found that the department needs an additional $30 to $35 million each year in order to retain 24-hour safety patrols, maintain the health of park trees and plants, and keep facilities open and programs operating. In this SPUR Report, we offer 11 recommendations to stabilize current funding and fill the additional need using three key strategies: strengthen public financing, develop philanthropy into a more robust resource, and explore new ways to generate revenue through park activities.