Kenwood Press


Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 06/15/2018

Regional Parks seeks funding – again



Nearly two years after a similar funding measure narrowly lost at the ballot box, Sonoma County Regional Parks is hoping to garner support for a new tax measure it would like to see on the November 2018 ballot.

A draft proposal, expected to be presented to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors at its Wednesday, June 13, meeting (after this paper has gone to print), calls for a 1/8-cent sales tax increase over 10 years, expected to raise $11.5 million to be divvied up among city and regional parks around the county.

After Measure J missed the two-thirds majority necessary for approval in 2016, the Board of Supervisors pledged $1 million a year to help keep Regional Parks afloat – taken from the pot of money raised by the increased Transient Occupancy Tax (aka “bed tax”), approved in that same election. But that was a temporary fix. Regional Parks has a backlog of deferred park maintenance needs, plus increasing natural resource threats, recovery needs from the October wildfires, and increasing public pressure to open new parks and trails.

Regional Parks has identified about $20 million in deferred maintenance needs, but has about $200,000 in annual funding to address those needs.

Beginning with Doran Regional Park, which opened in 1967, the regional park system has grown to 56 parks, stretching from Gualala Point Regional Park in the north to Tolay Regional Park in the south. With 11,071 acres of parkland, it has developed one of the most diverse park systems in California.

Day use of regional parks has doubled over the last five years, totaling five million visits annually. However Regional Parks’ funding, from the county’s general fund, has remained relatively flat over the past decade.

“We’re consistently hearing from community members that they want us to take care of the parks we have, protect water and wildlife, and invest in trails that connect communities to each other and the surrounding open spaces,” said Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “A funding source for Regional Parks is crucial. Our funding hasn’t kept pace with our growth and we need to reinvest in our existing parks. Without a dedicated funding source, our future is unclear.”  

Park expansions and the development of existing parks will continue to be delayed as park maintenance needs are delayed indefinitely until grants or other fundraising can be completed. The Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District has become the mechanism for the purchase of a number of properties which have now been transferred into the Regional Park system. The District has also acquired a number of additional parklands that await transfer; however, longterm operations and maintenance support is not included in the District’s voter-approved expenditure plan.

The newest tax proposal has been modified to address some of the reasons Measure J may not have passed in 2016. First, it’s a lower tax at 1/8-cent versus the 1/2-cent increase sought in 2016. And second, it will apply to all sales transactions in Sonoma County. Measure J would only have applied to sales transactions in the unincorporated parts of Sonoma County. At 0.125 percent, the tax would add 3 cents to a $25 bottle of wine and 12 cents to the cost of a $100 restaurant meal.

If the new tax measure passes in November, $76.7 million would go to Regional Parks, with about $33 million to be used to update park infrastructure, develop bike paths, regional park trails, park signage, trailheads, and protect natural resources. The remaining $4.4 million a year would go to operation costs. One third of money raised would be shared with Sonoma County’s cities to maintain and improve city parks, but just how that $38.3 million would be distributed over nine cities is still to be determined. The proposal provides two options, one based on population, one based on current sales tax. Each of the nine cities have different sales tax rates. As of press time, Regional Parks plans to return to the Board of Supervisors again on July 10.


Sarah Phelps is an editor and reporter. She was raised in Kenwood and has a BA from Loyola Marymount University.
Email: sarah@kenwoodpress.com

Recently Published:

04/15/2019 - Dunbar melodrama set for May – can you help?
04/15/2019 - Oakmont honors its premier volunteers
04/15/2019 - Oakmont golf courses officially on the market
04/15/2019 - Three-year deal struck for planning SDC’s future
04/15/2019 - Water, warning issues subjects at community meeting
04/15/2019 - GE residents sound off on downtown building design
04/15/2019 - Ask and (hopefully) ye shall receive…
04/15/2019 - Oakmont re-elects its board of directors
04/01/2019 - Hood Mountain Regional Park expands with latest acquisition
04/01/2019 - Not if, but when
04/01/2019 - Signs of Spring
04/01/2019 - Pull out the French broom
04/01/2019 - Civil Grand Jury applicants sought
04/01/2019 - Oakmont East Rec reopens May 1
04/01/2019 - Focus is on wells as groundwater board does its research
04/01/2019 - Mountain lion kittens born in Trione-Annadel
04/01/2019 - Bike and Pedestrian board seeks new member from District 1
04/01/2019 - Advance healthcare workshops in Sonoma
04/01/2019 - Registration open for summer camps
03/15/2019 - What’s next for Oakmont golf?
03/15/2019 - Defining winery guidelines still on county’s radar
03/15/2019 - County offers housing help on several levels
03/15/2019 - David Cook jumps into District 1 race
03/15/2019 - SVCAC worried about water for cannabis project
03/15/2019 - You can do local radio!

Community Calendar

Bingo and pizza
04/24/2019
more...
Pilates with Perry
04/24/2019
more...
Temple stay
04/26/2019
more...
Be part of a bioblitz
04/26/2019
more...
JL Yacht Club reveals racing boats
04/27/2019
more...
Volunteer training at Jack London State Historic Park
04/27/2019
more...
Jack to Jack yacht race
04/27/2019
more...
Wildflower walk and hike
04/27/2019
more...
Morning walk in the garden
04/27/2019
more...
Headwaters to Headwaters: A Mayacamas Hike Extravaganza
04/27/2019
more...
Sunday Symposium goes to the dogs
04/28/2019
more...


Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2