Plan to fix S.F. parks on the ballot

January 31, 2008 7:58:48 PM PST
Proposition A is a $185 million dollar bond measure, with most of the money earmarked to fix 12 parks in desperate need of repair.

There are more than 200 neighborhood parks, playgrounds and recreation centers in San Francisco. In this city many people live in apartments, so these green spaces serve as their backyards.

"Parks like this really show the city's commitment to keeping families in the city," said Proposition A supporter Rachel Norton.

Rachel Norton is campaigning for Proposition A, A $185 million dollar bond measure to fix up the city's parks.

The lion's share, $117.4 million is earmarked for 12 places the city considers most in need.

For example, at the Palega Recreation Center in the Portola neighborhood, the walls are cracking and crumbling. The building needs seismic work.

Nearly $11.4 million of the bond money would repair restrooms in city parks, $8.5 million would go towards renovating athletic fields.

The city says no neighborhood will be forced to convert to artificial turf, but some Potrero Hill residents believe Proposition A opens the door.

"How can they consider taking away seven percent of the greenery in San Francisco and replacing it with plastics," said Proposition A Opponent Eric Poulson.

But the biggest argument against Proposition A is the use of taxpayer money. Just eight years ago, voters approved $110 million dollars for the parks.

ABC7's Carolyn Tyler: "What happened to that money?"

"That money has been spent all over the 88 neighborhoods of San Francisco. Before us is an example of that money well spent," said Rose Dennis from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Critics say the 2000 money was mis-managed and no more should be approved during tough fiscal times.

"We in a problem with the state, were in a problem with the country, were going to be in a problem with the city, do we need to make it worse," said Proposition A opponent Leo Lecayo.

But there is a long list of Proposition A supporters.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously Approved Proposition A. the mayor is also backing it, the chamber of commerce, several environmental organizations and the San Francisco labor council.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is known as a fiscal conservative. He is endorsing the measure because he says it doesn't raise taxes.

"The key here is as old bonds, not just park bonds but hospital bonds, jail bonds, zoo bonds, all previous bonds as they are paid off, timed out, fall off your property tax bill. These new bonds will be issued so the property tax rate will stay stable," said San Francisco supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

Besides the parks, the bond measure includes money for waterfront projects, nature trails and tree planting. It will take a two-thirds majority vote to pass.