Funding for regional parks on Nov. 6 ballot
on November 2, 2018
Voters in western Contra Costa and Alameda counties will decide next week on Measure FF, which proposes to continue voter-approved funding for regional parks.
Measure FF was placed on the Nov. 6 ballot by the East Bay Regional Park District to maintain and improve parks in the East Bay. Measure FF would not increase the tax rate but extend a small property tax adopted in 2004 that is set to expire.
If approved, Measure FF would provide funding for the regional park district’s services. These include wildfire prevention, public access and safety improvements and habitat enhancement.
The tax that would be extended applies to property owners in western Contra Costa and Alameda counties. It is $1 per month for single-family homes and 69 cents per month for multi-family units. It is estimated to raise $3.3 million a year and would expire in 20 years.
The measure would support parks throughout western Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Richmond parks that are slated to receive funding from Measure FF include Miller/Knox, Point Isabel, Point Pinole, Point Molate, and Wildcat Canyon.
The measure was placed on the ballot after a, “robust public engagement process,” which included a public meeting at the Point Richmond Community Center last October, Dave Mason, public information supervisor at the park district, said in an interview with Richmond Confidential.
If approved, Measure FF funds will be used for making improvements in the parks, he said. The money would be used to increase educational and recreational programming and improve trail accessibility as well as visitor safety. The park district would also use the funding for watershed and shoreline protection, and habitat enhancements. A complete funding commitment report can be viewed here.
The measure also provides funding for regional projects such as trail connectivity for commuters and water quality projects.
“Wildfire protection and sustainable forest management is a top spending priority of Measure FF,” Mason said. Local voter-approved funding is used to thin and remove 500 acres of hazardous and flammable vegetation annually.
Opponents of the measure worry about the removal of vegetation, particularly mature trees, and the herbicides used to kill them. The Forest Action Brigade stated in an argument against the measure that the park district “has previously used this measure to destroy, unnecessarily, thousands of healthy trees.”
Aileen Theile, the park district fire chief, defends the vegetation removal plans saying they are carefully thought out. “The park does not clear-cut trees,” says Theile. Instead, she says, park district workers remove trees when necessary for fire safety, focusing on the areas where wild lands meet the neighborhood. Their strategy involves making these forests more resilient to wildfires, and in this way improving the safety of the neighborhoods and communities adjacent to parks, she said.
Theile says the strategy includes, “removing the fuel ladder” by cutting smaller unhealthy trees and ground-level vegetation and increasing the spacing between trees to prevent wildfires from reaching the tree canopy. In Richmond, both Miller/Knox and Wildcat Canyon have been identified by the park district as having a need for fire safety improvements.
The measure will appear on both the Alameda and Contra Costa county ballots in Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Pablo, El Cerrito, Albany, Emeryville, Piedmont, El Sobrante, and Kensington.
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