What it does
Proposition A is a $110 million general obligation bond measure that will fund acquisition, repair, and improvement of San Francisco's neighborhood parks, fields, and natural areas. This bond measure is on the ballot in conjunction with Proposition C, a charter amendment that will reform the way the Recreation and Park Department manages and funds city parks. Both of these measures are the product of a three-year study process SPUR conducted with the Neighborhood Parks Council. Proposition A requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
Why it is on the ballot
San Francisco's parks have suffered years of deferred maintenance. Decay and neglect are visible across our park system. In 1992, the voters approved a $76 million bond for Golden Gate Park. However, the city has not passed a bond for neighborhood parks since 1947! If Proposition A passes, it will not fund additional improvements to Golden Gate Park; the money is designated for neighborhood parks city-wide. (Monies from the 1992 bond measure are still being expended on Golden Gate Park improvements.)
Those who support this measure state:
- The city's network of parks, open spaces, and recreation facilities is an essential civic resource. The quality of life in our dense, urban home of San Francisco is significantly elevated by the opportunity to enjoy well-loved, well-maintained, and beautiful neighborhood parks.
- This measure will have broad benefits for the city as a whole, because it spreads funding across the entire park system instead of concentrating on high-profile parks only.
Those who oppose this measure state:
- The Recreation and Park Department does not operate efficiently. Until the department is reformed, funding increases, including funding for capital projects, will be like "pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom."
Rec and Park conducted a community-based analysis of capital needs which resulted in the recommendation of this bond as a critical element of a comprehensive parks funding package. The expenditure of bond monies will be based on that assessment plus advice on priorities which will be given by a Citizen Advisory Committee to the Recreation and Park Commission.
If all the bonds were issued at once, Proposition A would increase the annual property tax for a home valued at $300,000 by $42/year. In practice, the city will authorize bonds over a period of time and the effect on the tax rate will be less.
SPUR supports Proposition A. Bond measures are an appropriate way to fund improvements to public infrastructure such as parks. A great park system is an essential part of a high quality of life in San Francisco, and a major upgrade of the system is necessary for this goal. Finally, the objection that Rec and Park can't be trusted to make good use of the money certainly has some truth to it. However, because Proposition A is paired with the companion charter amendment, Proposition C, which establishes a key set of management reforms in the department, we believe the Department will be in a position to implement a successful program to upgrade the parks. Both measures, the bond and the charter amendment, are necessary for parks renewal.
SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition A.