As a local resident, taxpaying homeowner and San Franciscan since 1998, I laud the improvement of our city parks, including Jackson, and our commitment to park improvements. However, I and many others find it fiscally outrageous and imprudent that we’d dedicate more than $40 million to the renovation of a single four-acre park and facility, as beautiful as it may come to be.
As a counterpoint, the City of Sacramento in 2018 had a Parks and Recreation capital improvement budget of just more than $6 million and a 2017 to 2022 funding budget of just over $7 million. The total Sacramento Youth Parks and Community budget for 2022 was just over $57 million.
In 2012-2014 we were treated to an incredible but also incredibly expensive renovation of 14-acre Dolores Park, more than three times the size of Jackson Park, including building facilities at a cost of more than $20 million. In 2016 there was a $6 million+ renovation of two-acre Joe DiMaggio Park in North Beach. Without question these were and are beautiful parks, but at what point do we say we can build and renovate at far more reasonable, well negotiated prices and/or spread our park and rec budgets across many more facilities at the same cost? At what point do we quell our egos about dollars spent in pursuit of a “beautiful park” amidst a diminishing budget where school teachers are underpaid, city services are unduly burdened and law enforcement professionals are understaffed. No amount of neighborhood civic pride should support that kind of trade-off in fiscal management if we’re in this for the long haul as a city of equal and deserving neighborhoods.
The View has attempted to develop stories that examine what appear to be extraordinarily high rates of administrative expenses at the Recreation and Parks Department, poorly devised procurement processes, as well as requirements that design work be done in-house. These articles have proven to be beyond the paper’s capacity, due to insiders’ unwillingness to “spill the beans,” and a lack of municipal transparency. The View would welcome readers’ support to bolster its journalistic capabilities.