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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. 

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline
Measure FF would provide for shoreline protection through natural systems at the Dotson Family Marsh, habitat enhancements, improved visitor use facilities and bay access, and increased educational and recreational programming serving the surrounding communities.

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.

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park 
Measure FF would fund protection of Wildcat Creek watershed by erosion mitigation, natural habitat enhancements and restorations throughout park and increased trail accessibility and visitor safety.

The measure also provides funding for regional projects such as trail connectivity for commuters and water quality projects.

Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline 
Measure FF would provide shoreline protections and sea level rise adaptations, increased park staffing, upgrades for the Keller Beach visitor experience and drought tolerant landscape enhancements.

“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.” 

Point Isabel Regional Shoreline 
Measure FF would provide funding to stabilize the banks of Hoffman Channel, improve visitor access, improve San Francisco Bay water quality and conserve habitat for the endangered Ridgway’s rail.

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.

Point Molate 
Measure FF would provide for park and public safety personnel to develop, operate and maintain future park facilities and the San Francisco Bay Trail.

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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