For Immediate Release
Local parks tax supports $14 million in improvements
SANTA ROSA, CA | January 09, 2024
Parks departments throughout Sonoma County updated their playgrounds, sports facilities and signage and completed other crucial maintenance projects with $14 million in Parks for All/Measure M sales tax revenue in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today approved the tax measure’s latest annual report, compiled by Sonoma County Regional Parks and the municipalities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma and Windsor.
The annual report shows Regional Parks dedicated $10.9 million to projects while the cities directed more than $3.2 million to staffing, park improvements and deferred maintenance. The tax generated a total of $15.9 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year, with unspent revenue being saved to fund larger projects in coming years.
“The power of this collaboration goes beyond municipal boundaries and offers massive benefits to the community,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, board chair in 2023. “Parks are being redeveloped and trails are being built. Programs are connecting youth and families with the outdoors. And the county and cities are leveraging this tax funding for additional revenue from state, federal and private grants. I’m proud that Sonoma County is a part of this partnership with our cities.”
Regional Parks added an inclusivity manager as part of its commitment to ensure all residents enjoy equal access to the benefits parks provide. It also used Measure M funds to renovate Spring Lake Regional Park by upgrading parking areas, restrooms, picnic tables, signage and other infrastructure. The department also devoted funding to climate adaptation – making parks more resilient to wildfire and extreme weather, stewarding forests and grasslands and promoting biodiversity.
“These investments are revitalizing parks to cater to the diverse needs of communities,” said Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “In this past year, local park agencies have been reinvesting in existing parks, stewarding open spaces and expanding access with a focus on being more equitable and inclusive.”
Cities tackled deferred maintenance projects, installed new playground equipment and sports areas, built new trails and addressed climate change in their parks.
Sonoma County voters approved Parks for All/Measure M, a one-eighth-cent sales tax, in 2018. Two-thirds of the annual revenue goes to the county’s regional parks and one-third is divided among the cities, according to population size.
Before the annual report was sent to the Board of Supervisors, county and city parks representatives worked with the Parks for All/Measure M citizen oversight committee to ensure the year’s expenditures complied with the measure’s intent.
“Parks are the heartbeat of our community,” said Melanie Parker, Regional Parks’ deputy director and Measure M administrator. “We are grateful that Sonoma County voters value parks. Through 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.
“The pressures on parks are enormous and the needs are many, but by leveraging these funds we can tackle many of our key challenges.”
The annual report is available as a downloadable PDF in English and in Spanish at SoCoParks.org/ParksForAll .
Tina Luster, Marketing Specialist
Sonoma County Regional Parks