SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today a recent statewide poll of registered voters by Field Research Corporation found 66% of California voters were inclined to vote yes on a statewide neighborhood park bond, and 67% of those polled supported dispersing funding from the bond across the state based on population to ensure there is equitable distribution for local and regional parks. The Field Poll was conducted statewide among 1,241 registered voters in February.
The California Park and Recreation Society, State Park Partners Coalition and East Bay Regional Park District have been working in conjunction with State Senator Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon since 2013 to develop a statewide park bond which could appear on the November 2016 ballot. Senator de Leon introduced the broad framework for such a bond on February 23rd, the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Rivers and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2016 (SB 317).
“Since 2008, San Francisco has proved to be the leading City in support of investing in our neighborhood parks,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “More than 71% of San Francisco voters voted for a total of $280 million of parks bond, we share the vision and understanding that parks are vital to our community’s economic, social and physical health.”
“These results are very encouraging,” stated Robert E. Doyle, General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District and Co-Chair of the State Park Partners Coalition. “Regional and local park use has dramatically increased, yet there has been no true statewide park bond in 13 years.” According to a study by San Francisco State University, the number of visitors to the East Bay Regional Park District increased 18 percent from 2008-13, while the number of visitors to National Forests in California dropped 20 percent. “Park agencies throughout the state have been using money from their couch cushions and piggy bank jars for a long time. A park bond with per capita would be a motivational shot in the arm for the thousands of park agencies throughout the state with stressed budgets and infrastructure,” added Doyle.
“We applaud Senator de Leon’s leadership on moving forward with a park bond,” said Doug Houston, Executive Director for the State Park Partners Coalition. “We look forward to working with him to ensure agencies and communities which have pitched in to help manage state parks are financially recognized in the park bond for their efforts.”
The poll also found that 79% of registered voters believe a park bond will create new green jobs and put more Californians back to work. Additionally, the poll found 76% of respondents believe investing in neighborhood parks will improve the health, safety and well-being of local communities.
“Youth and green jobs, fair, equitable and population-based regional allocations of park bond proceeds, and the associated health and community benefits of a park bond resonated well with those surveyed,” stated Russ Guiney, Los Angeles County Parks Director and State Parks Partners Co-Chair.
The Executive Director of the 4,000 plus member California Park and Recreation Society Stephanie Stephens concurred and added, “Our coalition of local, regional, neighborhood and community park interests are extremely thankful to the Pro Tempore for his tenacity and passion in advancing a statewide funding measure for park improvements throughout the state and are anxious to see these results translate into a supportable initiative come November of next year.”
“We found high levels of voter support for a statewide park bond, particularly one that invests in existing neighborhood and regional parks that benefit local residents,” said Mark DiCamillo, Senior Vice President of Field Research Corporation and Director of The Field Poll, who conducted the survey. “The fact that its moneys would be dispersed across the state on a per capita basis and that jobs would be created as a result of the bond also resonates with voters.”