More bond money pitched for SF parks and playgrounds 

Five years after asking voters to approve a $185 million bond for parks, The City once again plans to court voters with a planned November bond measure to fix up parks, playgrounds, restrooms, athletic fields and the waterfront.

With $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance needs, the Recreation and Park Department is counting on the bond money to tackle a long list of needs.

If approved by voters, which would take two-thirds of the vote, the department would have a “seamless capital program” building on the momentum of the 2008 bond, said department general manager Phil Ginsburg.

“The need is great,” Ginsburg said.

The 2008 bond, known as the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bonds, earmarked $117 million for neighborhood park repairs, including $11.7 million for Mission Dolores Park. About $5 million was put into a so-called community opportunity fund, which groups could use to fund projects they’d like in their neighborhoods. A similar provision would be included in the upcoming bond. About $33.5 million went to the Port of San Francisco for waterfront open space improvements.

Rec and Park has a working list of possible projects for November’s bond measure and has been holding meetings with members of the Board of Supervisors for input. The bond would prioritize such needs as failing playgrounds.

The size of the bond has not yet been set, but would likely be of a similar amount as the 2008 bond and it would not increase property taxes, since it’s timed to replace retired city debt.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who recently attended a meeting with residents about the bond, said there is much support for it, and the debate is only about which projects would receive funding.

“We have parks that are failing, and parks to me are one of the most important things that affect our quality of life living here in San Francisco,” Farrell said.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said the bond is the right approach to address these capital needs, and “people are really pleased with what they see of the results of the 2008 bond.”

The Port of San Francisco has identified $40 million in projects it would like to see funded by the bond to build on its effort to make the waterfront more walkable, with engaging open spaces. Projects include a new 3-acre park on Pier 27 bordering the Embarcadero Promenade, the new cruise terminal and an overhaul of the 1970s Agua Vista Park near Mission Bay’s Bayfront Park.

Community input is being gathered during the next several months, and the board is expected to vote to place it on the November ballot some time in May or June.

Cruise terminal plan survives Cup fallout

The long-term development deal connected to the America’s Cup yacht race sank last week, but a new cruise ship terminal for The City is still afloat.

The $90 million project was originally set to be financed primarily by the Port of San Francisco, although improvements made by race officials for the upcoming regatta will serve as a catalyst for improvements at the new Pier 27 site, on the east side of Telegraph Hill.

Pier 27 also will be the site of the America’s Cup Village for the regatta’s main event featuring 72-foot catamarans in September 2013. According to Port spokeswoman Renée Dunn Martin, after the races are over, the pier will be returned to the Port, which wants to have the shell of a terminal in place by 2013 and a fully functional facility by 2014.

Although San Francisco’s cruise industry has been somewhat hampered by recent violence in Mexico, the Port has sought to attract more Alaskan cruises to fill the gap. Piers 30-32, which were the main part of the development deal axed Monday, serve as an alternative cruise ship dock when the current primary dock at Pier 35 is overburdened.

— Dan Schreiber

Cruise Ship Traffic

2011: 136,479 passengers, 61 ship calls

2012 (projected): 200,000 passengers, 65 ship calls

Source: Port of San Francisco

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