By Rachel Norton, Executive Director
In my 20s, I lived in New York City – it was a fun and stimulating place to be and for the most part, I loved it. But every spring, as the weather warmed and the days lengthened, I found myself longing for the beautiful mountains, deserts and beaches of my home state – the beloved natural spaces of California. Eventually, I realized it was time to go home.
Fast forward a few (ahem) decades, and I’m now happily living in Northern California, leading California State Parks Foundation and regularly enjoying those beautiful open spaces with my friends and family. I am so grateful to the previous generations of Californians who fought to preserve and expand our parklands.
On June 5, I’m voting Yes on 68 to pay that debt of gratitude forward. Prop 68 will allow the state to sell $4.1 billion in bonds to improve state and local parks and provide funding for clean water, flood protection and other environmental protection projects.
There are a lot of good things in Prop 68, and the measure holds especially good news for parks and open spaces. For one thing, Prop 68 provides $218 million in funding for badly-needed deferred maintenance and other projects in state parks. The system currently has over $1 billion in deferred maintenance needs, so Prop 68 won’t solve all the problems in the system, but it’s a good start – especially since we haven’t had a state parks bond since 2006.
In addition, Prop 68 grants $285 million to cities, counties and park districts to repair and update parks in local communities. And with very strong language about providing access to disadvantaged communities, Prop 68 will also provide $725 million to build parks in neighborhoods that need them.
At our recent Park Advocacy Day event, one advocate remarked that “parks are always first in our hearts but last in our wallets” when it comes to making hard decisions about which public priorities to fund. Prop 68 offers us the opportunity to show our parks how much we love and appreciate them, while making sure these essential spaces will endure for our children and our children’s children. Join me in voting YES on 68 on June 5.