Cash-strapped parks look to generate money 

Strategic pool closures and apprenticeships are just two of the ideas the Recreation and Park Department is considering to help offset a
$12.4 million hit to its $33.4 million general fund operating budget.

The department must submit final plans to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office by Feb. 19, and it’s turning to revenue-generating measures, in addition to cuts, to make up the difference.

Katie Petrucione, director of administration and finance for The City, has floated ideas such as holding flea markets in city parks, installing bicycle kiosks, day camps, nonresident fees, open-space sponsorships and increased concessions as ways to beef up revenue.

Suggested pool closures would shutter locations for one day a week and reduce staffing to an as-needed basis. According to Rec and Park proposals, that would open up the sites for revenue-generating potential from private leagues, lessons and events. 

The department also is looking to sell the naming rights to Candlestick to soften the budget blow. For instance, The City sold naming rights to the stadium to 3Com for $900,000 from 1995 to 2002. San Francisco-based Monster Cable took over the naming rights in 2004, but that deal expired in 2008 and the name reverted back to Candlestick Park.

Petrucione also put various administrative, maintenance, equipment and personnel costs on the chopping block, but those recommendations only add up to about $2.6 million.

“That’s our challenge,” Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon said.

In order to cut personnel costs, the department is considering the creation of an apprentice gardener program that would convert open gardener positions into apprentice opportunities. Apprentices would learn the necessary skills while on the job and thus save the department expenditures on employee salaries.

So far, the income ideas have been well-received by park advocates.

“I’m really pleased to see the department is trying to align its direction with its mission and their principals,” said Meredith Thomas, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council. “However, it isn’t completely clear yet exactly how the cuts will link to
their goals.’’

 

Ways to fill Rec and Park’s budget gap

Proposed cuts and revenue-generating measures are likely to include:

Gardener apprentice program    $200,000
More strategic use of aquatic facilities    $400,000
Special event permit revenue    $350,000
Enhanced and new amenities in parks    $650,000
Standardize nonresident fee structure    $150,000
Downtown Park Fund supports Union Square    $480,000
Permit revenue better than budget    $150,000
Increased day camps and aftercare    $350,000
Payment from San Francisco Zoo    $100,000
Revenue from NSAs and programs    $250,000

Source: Recreation and Parks Department

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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