“I have been visiting the East Bay parks for fifteen years, I love them,” says Silvia San Miguel of Oakland. “I visit the parks every week to go hiking or take the dog for a walk. I love to go to the parks to do hiking after work.”
The East Bay is blessed with a huge park system that is enjoyed by many thousands of people each year. When enjoying outdoor time, we often don’t think about what’s required to keep our parks beautiful and safe. The amount of people, money and work required might surprise you.
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) operates 65 parks with more than 1,200 miles of trails for hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding and nature learning. It represents a huge number of outdoor activities and places to enjoy nature throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
“Our primary budget comes from property taxes, though it does not cover all of our expenses,” says Carol Johnson, Assistant General Manager at East Bay Regional Park District.
“With measure CC, we asked $12 per year to assist in funding some of the oldest parks that have infrastructure decay and challenges.”
Measure CC is a $12-per-year parcel tax in western Contra Costa and Alameda counties that funds infrastructure improvements at some of the East Bay Regional Park District’s oldest and most well-used parks. Passed in 2004 by more than two-thirds of voters, Measure CC raises about $3 million annually for infrastructure repair, habitat restoration, fire hazard reduction, and facility upgrades at 22 parks and shorelines in Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Alameda and Albany.
Some of the work that Measure CC funds include infrastructure such as renovated baseball fields, new picnic tables, toilets, and lighting, as well as shoreline protection and repairs and extensions of trails. Measure CC will expire in 2020 and voters will decide next year whether or not to renew the same tax for an additional fifteen years.
“Based on our surveys, the community really values having access to trails, park amenities such as restrooms and water fountains, additional picnic areas, and restoring habitats for birds and other wildlife,” says Johnson.
Johnson adds that people use the parks in many diverse ways.
“East Bay residents have diverse interests - they like to be active and exercising, or just enjoying the sights and sounds of the natural environment and being outdoors.”
Johnson encourages residents to support the renewal of Measure CC by telling their friends about it and by following EBRPD on social media.
“I suggest they share their positive experiences in East Bay parks and how much they value it. Talk about how important the parks are for your community -- they improve the quality of all of our lives regardless of how you view parks. It’s important to fund the district because of the great personal value we get from them.”
Silvia San Miguel is certainly among those residents who talk about their love of local parks, including her favorite parks.
“My favorite park is Redwood Regional Park, it has beautiful trails,” she says. “I also enjoy Lake Chabot, it is incredible. Roberts Parks is great to take all the family for picnic and enjoy nature. Tilden Park is quite big and I have not explored everything yet. East Bay Parks help the community a lot because they help you to get out of the routine and the noise -- you really feel like you are on another planet when you visit the park.”