Kenwood Press


Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 08/01/2018

Supervisors back parks funding for November ballot



Open Calabazas Creek in Nuns Canyon as a public regional park and preserve; renovate Maxwell Farms’ sports fields, bikeways, and tennis courts; and turn the port-a-potty at Sonoma Valley Regional Park into a real restroom.

These are just a few of the items on Sonoma County Regional Parks’ growing to-do list across its 56 parks countywide. Regional Parks has identified about $20 million in deferred maintenance needs, but has about $200,000 in annual funding to address them. The department receives its funding from the county’s general fund, and although property under its management has increased to over 11,000 acres in its 50-year history, funding has not kept pace.

“It’s going to be extremely challenging to achieve these goals without a dedicated funding source from the county,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker at the July 10 meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. On the whole, supervisors agreed with that sentiment, and approved the regional parks’ request to place a new funding measure on the November 2018 ballot.

The measure calls for a 1/8-cent countywide sales tax increase, expected to raise $11.5 million annually over 10 years, to be divided among city and regional parks around the county.

A similar measure, Measure J, missed the two-thirds majority necessary for approval in 2016, by just 1,100 votes. Measure J, however, would have applied to transactions only in the unincorporated areas of the county. Whitaker said polls have indicated strong support for the new measure that would apply countywide and would set aside one-third of the revenue generated for the maintenance of city parks.

Of the expected $115 million total raised, $38 million would be divvied up among the nine cities, based on a percent of total population. The remaining $76 million would go to regional parks. Roughly a quarter of that money would be earmarked to address regional parks’ deferred maintenance and safety projects and to update restrooms and existing trails. Another 23 percent would be earmarked for improving access to parks through bike paths, river access points, and opening public access to open space. The remaining money would go towards improving natural resource management, which includes fuels management measures like open grazing.

“While modest, this increase is significant enough to stabilize our operation, invest in natural resources, and avoid fee increases while maintaining our current level of services,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Deputy Director Melanie Parker.

A dedicated funding stream would also give the regional parks access to additional sources of money, including private grants and state Proposition 68 funds. Proposition 68, passed in June, provides $40 million in matching funds for counties whose voters have approved a dedicated revenue source for parks.

The cost of placing the measure on the November ballot depends on a number of factors, including whether or not there is more than one county measure, actual voter registration, and the number of pages of text needed in the voter pamphlet. Estimated costs are approximately $300,000.

Whitaker assured the supervisors that a citizen’s oversight working group would be put in place to communicate and prioritize plans with the board annually.

“We have a five-year plan already in place,” said Whitaker, referencing the Sonoma County Intergrated Parks Plan, whose draft was completed in 2015. “This gets us to a ‘phase one,’” he said.

“This is going to pass; I know it,” said First District Supervisor Susan Gorin.


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:

02/15/2019 - Thirty years of rescuing fawns
02/15/2019 - Third mountain lion in study killed in Napa
02/15/2019 - Municipal Advisory Council moves forward in Kenwood, Glen Ellen
02/15/2019 - Oakmont board election
02/15/2019 - Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program info
02/15/2019 - Input sought on restoration for steelhead habitat in upper Sonoma Creek
02/15/2019 - Frozen February...
02/15/2019 - Emergency response, CPR training in Glen Ellen
02/15/2019 - Docent training at Quarryhill
02/15/2019 - Jack London Yacht Club launches
02/01/2019 - Former OVA president files lawsuit
02/01/2019 - ‘The Uncommon Manzanita’
02/01/2019 - Speed limit changes – good news and bad news
02/01/2019 - Supervisors OK hosted rentals, farmstays on more ag lands
02/01/2019 - Fire plan proposal roasted by three supes
02/01/2019 - SVCAC gives OK to B.R. Cohn concert expansion
02/01/2019 - Plenty of firepower in district’s new board picks
01/15/2019 - Mobile Support Team expands services to Sonoma Valley
01/15/2019 - Sugarloaf Ridge, Jack London parks are flourishing
01/15/2019 - Fire volunteers are needed and welcome
01/15/2019 - SVCAC to review B.R. Cohn event request
01/15/2019 - Protecting your pets and backyard livestock from predators
01/15/2019 - Register for kindergarten now
01/15/2019 - Further information on Kenwood cyclist/pedestrian incident
01/15/2019 - County seeks public input on housing development sites

Community Calendar

Wildfire Recovery and Rebirth
02/23/2019
more...
“People of the Abyss, then and now”
02/23/2019
more...
Fire recovery hike at SV Regional Park
02/23/2019
more...
Challenge yourself at local ropes course
02/24/2019
more...
Oakmont Sunday Symposium
02/24/2019
more...
SIR Branch #53 expanding activities
02/28/2019
more...
Wildlife Fawn Rescue 30th anniversary celebration
03/02/2019
more...
The inspiring Victoria Arlen at next Sonoma Speaker event
03/04/2019
more...
Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood meeting
03/06/2019
more...
Docent training begins at Quarryhill
03/06/2019
more...
Big Heart Award tickets on sale
03/08/2019
more...


Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2