Thirty Million Dollar Increase in Recreation and Park Budget

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San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD)’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget is approximately $208.8 million, a $30.1 million jump from FY 2015. According to Joey Kahn, RPD media relations and policy manager, the 14 percent expenditure rise reflects growth in operating costs. RPD’s budget includes more than $34.7 million in capital investments for playgrounds, parks, and facilities.

Kahn said that between 2014 and 2016 RPD added 7.73 acres of parks and greenspace to the 4,029 acres it already maintains. New acquisitions include Francisco Reservoir, 4.32 acres, 900 Innes, 2.4 acres, 17th and Folsom, 0.73 acres, and Noe Valley Town Square, 0.25. Two additional areas are in the process of being acquired, Schlage Lock, 1.94 acres, and 11th and Natoma streets, 0.45 acres.

RPD’s budget is $11.3 million less than FY 2009, when the City allotted $220.1 million for the department. The FY 2009 budget was an unusual peak spending year, in which the 2008 Clean & Safe Neighborhood Park Bond provided roughly $90 million more than previous budgets.

In a typical year RPD’s budget is funded from three primary sources, each of which is responsible for about a third of expenditures: the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Fund, a tax of two and a half cents for every $100 assessed valuation; the General Fund; and earned income, which reflects returns from park operations, services, and fees, the revenue from which is generally used to cover these activities. In FY 2015, garages generated $8.7 million, program fees, $4.5 million, concessions and citywide facilities, $10.8 million, permits and facility rentals, $8.6 million, stadium rentals, $0.5 million, golf fees, $9 million, and the Marina yacht harbor, $4.5 million. Total earned income increased between FY 2014 and FY 2015 by $2.5 million, though stadium rentals fell by $6.1 million and golf fees by $0.7 million. Income from garages remained steady.

The Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) develops and maintains parks in Mission Bay and the Hunters Point Shipyard. Mission Bay parks include Mission Bay Kids’ Park, roughly one acre, which opened in July; and Mariposa Park, about 2.4 acres, which opened in August. According to Marc Slutzkin, OCII project manager of Mission Bay North and South, parks in these areas are funded by assessments on property located in special tax districts and property taxes levied on development in Mission Bay and Hunters Point Shipyard.

Slutzkin said it may have seemed like there were postponements in opening the Mission Bay parks because equipment had been installed, but this wasn’t the case. “Once you roll the grass out, it may look like a park is ready to open. Yet the City needs to approve the work and go through the acceptance process. Mission Bay Kids’ Park opening was delayed as a result of a fire at an adjacent construction site. Before the park could open, the fire-damaged streets had to be repaired.”

The next Mission Bay park – Mariposa Bayfront Park, a two-acre site on Terry Francois Boulevard – is expected to open in summer 2017. Mission Bay will eventually contain 49 acres of parks and open space.

The parks at the Hunters Point Shipyard are currently being planned or are under construction. David Satterfield, spokesperson for FivePoint Northern California – a recent spinoff of Lennar Corporation, the entity that formerly was developing the San Francisco Shipyard – the master developer of the former shipyard, said there are 25 acres set aside for parks in Hunters Point Phase 1 of construction, including pocket parks. FivePoint is close to completing Hilltop Park, and is renovating Innes Court Park. “The pocket parks are adjacent to buildings, so kids can go out and play and people can sit and have a cup of coffee,” said Satterfield.

Satterfield said FivePoint is breaking ground on Phase 2 of its project, which encompasses the remainder of Shipyard space as well as the area that was formerly Candlestick Park. The land spans about 700 acres, with 326 acres of parks and open space. Work has begun at Candlestick, but not on Shipyard Phase 2, because the U.S. Navy continues to remediate parcels located in that area. Once remediation is complete, the Navy will transfer the land to OCII.

One project in process at Hilltop Park is a paved pathway with open space and a sculpture garden, which is being constructed by OCII through a
$1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Nine sculptures are situated along the pathway, including “Frame,” a large Rococo picture frame that visitors can walk through and take selfies with the Bay in the background.

The San Francisco Shipyard will ultimately house between 25,000 and 30,000 people. OCII expects many more to visit the playgrounds, art, and open space that’ll extend to the City’s edge.  “We are thrilled to see the transformation of these spaces in Mission Bay and Hunters Point Shipyard,” said OCII executive director Tiffany Bohee. “The parks are key investments in our City’s families, youth, and neighborhoods.”  

She added that the Kids’ and Mariposa parks are examples of community-driven planning that maximize public space. “These parks are providing families and residents with room to gather and play in a growing neighborhood. We are looking forward to welcoming residents to new parks in the Shipyard soon. OCII invites all residents of the southeast to participate in the planning effort currently underway for Northside Park,” said Bohee.

Northside Park, scheduled to open in 2021, is part of the Shipyard Phase 2 project. It’s been imagined as a place to hold musical performances, an African-themed marketplace, and an open air farmers market.