The Board of Supervisors’ decision to support Proposition B — deceptively labeled the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond — isn’t a surprise and shouldn’t be a basis to support the measure. It’s symptomatic of City Hall’s mentality of preferring form to substance.
That’s why it’s not surprising that Supervisor Scott Wiener continues his misinformed, pandering support for Prop. B, seeking to marginalize opposition as cynical and insensitive to kids (“Parks bond faces powerful foes,” Sunday). Name-calling and mischaracterizations are predictable during campaign season.
Proponents of Prop. B can talk all the parks, swing sets and children they want, but they can’t (or won’t) talk money. They’re more content making spurious claims about opponents, such as that they think “kids should continue to play on broken-down playgrounds, people should continue to sit in puddles even when it is dry out because the irrigation systems in these parks are broken, we should continue to have substandard pools.”
But voters should know the facts, namely that the Recreation and Park Department dipped into their wallets in 1992 for $76.3 million for Golden Gate Park water and restroom improvements and tree replacement; again in 2000 for $110 million; and yet again in 2008 for $185 million in general obligation bonds, plus tens of millions in interest.
Now voters are being told City Hall urgently needs one more swipe of the debit card for another $195 million, plus interest. And that doesn’t include a new parcel tax on their drawing board, coming soon to an election near you.
Voters beware: The $185 million park indebtedness approved in 2008 still has $73.7 million unspent. Approved projects won’t even be started for another several years. And the broad-based coalition opposing Prop. B exposed the fact that City Hall bypassed its own approved bond prioritization plan to jump this measure to the front of the line, desperate to obfuscate Rec and Park’s huge operating deficit, other serious structural financial problems and rampant privatization of our parks.
San Franciscans already pay taxes and fees to keep our parks in good repair. Refurbished recreation spaces remain closed and unavailable, (such as the J.P. Murphy Clubhouse in the Inner Sunset, a $3.9 million renovation shuttered for years) but wide open to the highest bidder (such as Sue Bierman Park, rented to a private, for-profit company for six months).
Don’t forget that every Rec and Park fee has been increased, thus limiting public access to significant portions of our own parks.
Prop. B monies won’t rehire the fired 166 Rec and Park directors, reverse the new admission fee at Strybing Arboretum or reopen dozens of clubhouses that are now privately leased and used in part to fund Port property improvements.
The wide-ranging and disparate interests opposing Prop. B are unified by those fundamental reasons. The alliance includes the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, San Francisco Tenants Union, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, San Francisco Tomorrow, Potrero Hill Democratic Club, District 3 and 5 Democratic Clubs, Wild Equity Institute, Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Sunset Parkside Education and Action Committee, Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance, Good Government Alliance, Friends of Ethics, Take Back our Parks and the San Francisco Republican Party.
Rec and Park is plagued by mismanagement and lack of true neighborhood input, transparency and accountability. It’s infuriating that its solution is to continue flawed policies and management decisions, and another withdrawal at the voter ATM. Now is the time for reform, before conferring any more taxpayer funds upon them. Vote no on Prop. B.
Quentin Kopp and Aaron Peskin are both former presidents of the Board of Supervisors.