Parks Funding Measure Makes it to the Ballot

July 8, 2016 — Yesterday the Board of Supervisors voted to place the parks and open space funding measure on the ballot for this November – a crucial step in achieving our shared goals for access to clean, safe, water smart parks and open space across LA County! The measure will be a 1.5 cent per square foot tax levied annually – which means it will require a supermajority vote in November. $98 million dollars will be created by the tax, which will be managed by LA County’s Open Space District. There is a state measure moving through the legislature but local funding is key because it provides much needed maintenance money that the state bond will not.

Heal the Bay completed its 2015 strategic plan which included a new area of focus called Healthy Watersheds. To meet our new goal of connecting inland communities to their watersheds and to restore the vibrancy of our watersheds, Heal the Bay joined the #OurParks coalition with Trust for Public Land, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy and many other groups to support the LA County Parks and Open Space measure. An unprecedented needs assessment illuminated $20 billion of needs across the county. The need for funding is urgent, since the last existing dedicated parks funding is set to expire in 2019.

Parks represent the vast majority of open space we have left in our dense, concrete laden watersheds. We have worked very closely with the Open Space District to ensure the grant programs within this funding measure will provide protection and opportunities for nature based solutions to our challenged water resources, including using parks to capture storm water, creating linear greenways along our rivers, and cool our cities – in addition to their traditional roles like creating safe places to play. This measure matched with future storm water funding will provide leverage for cities using parks to build projects to meet storm water quality mandates. The money can be used to:

  • Protect clean water resources, including rivers and creeks
  • Reduce gang activity and provide safe places to play
  • Ensure drinking water is safe at park and recreation centers
  • Remove asbestos, mold and lead paint from aging recreation centers
  • Protect and preserve parks and natural areas
  • Keep beaches open, clean and safe
  • Supports funding for high need areas

It was disappointing to hear the opposition from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. When Gary Toebben, president, said “It’s pretty easy to have a cup of coffee when someone else is paying for it”, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl replied, “You’ve had plenty of our cups of coffee.” She noted that commercial properties have received favorable treatment under Proposition 13, the property tax initiative approved by California voters in 1978.

What’s next? Click here to learn more about the campaign and final ballot language for the Safe Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Beaches, Rivers Protection and Water Conservation Measure.