Assembly Committee Supports $3 Billion Bond for Parks, Water
February 9, 2017
The Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee voted to support a $3 billion state bond to finance parks, water, climate adaptation, coastal protection, and outdoor access programs. This is the first step in a lengthy process for AB 18 (Garcia) which eventually will require passage by the legislature and voter approval.
The proposal includes several categories of local funding, including dollars on a per capita basis as well as competitive grants for local governments. Conversation in committee included many supporters as well as some concerns about the size of the bond and considerations over the state’s capacity to take on the additional bond debt.
SB 5 (De Leon) is a similar bond on the Senate side; it has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing. The last major park bond was passed in 2006, though several of the more recent water bonds have included some funding for similar activities and a bond measure during the last legislative session failed.
The bond would fund the following activities:
- Environmental and social equity – the creation and expansion of safe neighborhood parks in park-poor communities.
- Local and regional outdoor spaces – local park rehabilitation and improvement grants to local governments on a per capita basis as well as competitive grants.
- Natural, historic, and cultural legacy – for restoration and preservation of existing state park facilities and units to preserve and increase public access and to protect natural, cultural, and historic resources in the parks.
- Trails and greenway investments – for competitive grants through the Natural Resources Agency for non-motorized access to parks, waterways, or other natural environments to encourage health-related commuting.
- Rural recreation, tourism, and economic enrichment – for competitive grants to local governments in non-urbanized areas.
- River recreation, creek, stormwater, and water improvement – for grants for several specific waterways as well as an urban stream program and competitive grants for stormwater capture projects that have co-benefits of enhanced park, parkways, and open space.
- State conservancies – for several conservancies with priorities and specific criteria for funding.
- Ocean, bay, and coastal protection – for projects that enhance and protect coastal and ocean resources.
- Climate preparedness, habitat resiliency, resource enhancement, and innovation – for projects that improve a community’s ability to adapt to climate change, including projects to improve and protect coastal and rural economies, agricultural viability, wildlife corridors, or habitat, develop recreational opportunities, or enhance drought tolerance and water retention.