California Water, Climate, and Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2016 Prioritizes Parks for Disadvantaged Communities in New Bond
SACRAMENTOÂ â€”Â Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia is pleased to report that his bill, California Water, Climate, and Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2016, AB 2444, passed the Assembly Floor, garnering bipartisan support with a vote of 57-17.
“It has been 14 years since California last approved a “true park bond” said Assemblymember Garcia.
The protracted economic downturn in 2008 had a disproportionate impact on the local, regional and state parks infrastructure in the state as the services and investments associated with this type of infrastructure were, during this period, viewed as less critical and were oftentimes subject to cuts. There has been particularly high demand in both urban and rural disadvantaged communities where many still lack access to safe parks, trails, recreation areas, and access to the great outdoors.
“Parks serve as one of the cornerstones of our communities, they provide a place for recreation across all demographics, especially within communities facing harder economic challenges,” said Assemblymember Garcia. “When delving into the issue of parks in California, you quickly realize how we are still coming up short when it comes to the expansion and improvement of parks within our poorest communities. That is why part of this bond is aimed at tackling the absence of parks within disadvantaged communities.”
This bill also moves funds towards many issues including state park deferred maintenance since the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Plan of 2015 cited that 55% of 300 local/regional park directors had claimed rehabilitation of existing parks as the highest priority, versus 19% for new park development and 17% for new facilities in existing parks.Â Funds will also be available to encourage new enterprise projects that can potentially generate revenue within the state park system.
In addition to the main focus, the bill will also provide funds to maintain open spaces, ensure that funding is available for climate preparedness and habitat rehabilitation in our parks, and provides a strong investment in our trails and waterways systems. Â Funds will also be available for our urban creeks and for ensuring that our watersheds are maintained or rehabilitated.
“Investments to improve and to further create parks and recreation areas, as well as to create trail networks that provide access from neighborhoods to parks and recreational opportunities, will help ensure all Californians have access to safe places to exercise and enjoy recreational activities.Â Not only do parks and natural spaces provide an outdoor experience, but they also have numerous public safety, educational, and health benefits. Additionally, continued investment in the state’s parks, trails, and natural resources, and greening urban areas will mitigate the effects of climate change, providing California access to its bountiful natural resources for future generations to come,” said Garcia.
“Assemblymember Garcia has crafted a bi-partisan solution that ensures every corner of this state benefits from this bond, particularly the disadvantaged and rural communities that have often been left out,” said Speaker Anthony Rendon. “Being outside and in nature provides a wide array of benefits for children. This bond helps make sure all our kids can access and enjoy parks.”
AB 2444 will now advance to the Senate.