More bond money pitched for SF parks and playgrounds

Five years after asking voters to approve a $185 million bond for parks, The City once again plans to court voters with a planned November bond measure to fix up parks, playgrounds, restrooms, athletic fields and the waterfront.

With $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance needs, the Recreation and Park Department is counting on the bond money to tackle a long list of needs.

If approved by voters, which would take two-thirds of the vote, the department would have a “seamless capital program” building on the momentum of the 2008 bond, said department general manager Phil Ginsburg.

“The need is great,” Ginsburg said.

The 2008 bond, known as the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bonds, earmarked $117 million for neighborhood park repairs, including $11.7 million for Mission Dolores Park. About $5 million was put into a so-called community opportunity fund, which groups could use to fund projects they’d like in their neighborhoods. A similar provision would be included in the upcoming bond. About $33.5 million went to the Port of San Francisco for waterfront open space improvements.

Rec and Park has a working list of possible projects for November’s bond measure and has been holding meetings with members of the Board of Supervisors for input. The bond would prioritize such needs as failing playgrounds.

The size of the bond has not yet been set, but would likely be of a similar amount as the 2008 bond and it would not increase property taxes, since it’s timed to replace retired city debt.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who recently attended a meeting with residents about the bond, said there is much support for it, and the debate is only about which projects would receive funding.

“We have parks that are failing, and parks to me are one of the most important things that affect our quality of life living here in San Francisco,” Farrell said.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said the bond is the right approach to address these capital needs, and “people are really pleased with what they see of the results of the 2008 bond.”

The Port of San Francisco has identified $40 million in projects it would like to see funded by the bond to build on its effort to make the waterfront more walkable, with engaging open spaces. Projects include a new 3-acre park on Pier 27 bordering the Embarcadero Promenade, the new cruise terminal and an overhaul of the 1970s Agua Vista Park near Mission Bay’s Bayfront Park.

Community input is being gathered during the next several months, and the board is expected to vote to place it on the November ballot some time in May or June.

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