For Immediate Release
Local parks tax supports $12.4 million in improvements
Parks for All - Measure M annual report details county, city projects
Santa Rosa, CA | February 01, 2023
In the 2021-22 fiscal year, county and municipal park agencies throughout Sonoma County used nearly $12.4 million in Parks for All – Measure M funds to focus on climate resiliency, stewarding woodlands to make forests more resilient to fire and building climate-adaptive park infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the tax measure’s annual report on Jan. 24 and released it to the public. Sonoma County Regional Parks and the municipalities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma and Windsor, which share the one-eighth-cent sales tax, compiled the report. The tax measure collected $15.5 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year and was passed by Sonoma County voters in 2018 and is in effect for 10 years. The county and cities can save portions of their allotments to fund larger projects in coming years.
“I am proud of the collaboration between county and city parks organizations to leverage Parks for All – Measure M funds to improve and expand our region’s parks and to enhance our experiences in our natural spaces, while also addressing long-overdue maintenance projects,” said Supervisor James Gore, who served as board chair during 2022. “When our parks are strong and thriving, we all benefit: We have green spaces to explore, local neighborhood parks to play in and fresh air to breathe.”
Two-thirds of the funds from the tax measure go to Sonoma County for its regional parks and one-third is divided among the cities, according to population size. During the 2021-22 fiscal year, Regional Parks used $10,266,795 to fund priority projects. The nine incorporated cities spent $2,108,744 on parks improvements and deferred maintenance.
“Sonoma County Regional Parks, together with our city parks partners, are leveraging Parks for All – Measure M funds to grow the park system, expand programs and engage our communities, said Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “We are also ramping up to better meet the needs of our parks that were nearly loved to death during the height of the pandemic.”
Regional Parks worked to properly steward parklands with restoration projects, fuels work, wildlife monitoring and careful grazing. Visitors also benefited from marketing programs that offered information on how to prepare for their time in the parks and help protect the outdoors. All of these programs benefitted from the tax measure fund.
Cities tackled deferred maintenance projects, installed new playground equipment and sports areas, addressed climate change in their parks and worked with their communities to provide safe events.
Before the annual report was sent to the Board of Supervisors, county and city parks representatives worked with its citizen oversight committee that reviewed Measure M spending and inspected the report to ensure expenditures complied with the measure’s intent.
“This annual report highlights our collective successes,” said Melanie Parker, Regional Parks’ deputy director and Measure M administrator. “Whether you are hiking at Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve near Santa Rosa, or along the coast at Gualala Point, you are seeing investments in the natural capital of the county.
“We are grateful that voters value the parks in Sonoma County and, with grants and working with community and industry partners, we are committed to matching every dollar at least one to one, sometimes as much as tenfold,” Parker added. “The pressures on parks are enormous and the needs are many, but by leveraging these funds we can tackle many of our key challenges. Thank you for investing in the parks, our communities and yourself.”
The annual report is available as downloadable pdf in English and in Spanish at SoCoParks.org/ParksForAll.
Sonoma County Regional Parks
Office: (707) 565-3803