Smart Growth California hosted a video conference for funders to learn about the massive parks and water bond slated to be on the June 2018 ballot (also known as SB 5 or Proposition 68). In this blog, we summarize the highlights of the webinar.
Ballot Measure Would Yield Billions
The California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act, also known as SB 5, could become the largest parks and natural resource bond in the state’s history. The bond measure will be sent to the June 2018 ballot for voters to approve and appear as Proposition 68.
If passed, Proposition 68 will generate $4.1 billion of investments for communities throughout California. This includes major funding to: improve access to parks for low-income neighborhoods; provide safe drinking water for communities with contaminated water supplies; expand local water supplies through stormwater capture and recycling; and protect coastal and other natural resources.
Since 2000, California voters have approved over $22 billion in bond monies for natural resource protection. If passed, Proposition 68 would follow this trend, while standing out as the most equity-focused measure ever passed.
Equity is Front and Center in Proposition 68
Traditionally, dollars from California bond measures for natural resource protection have been focused on wild lands; rarely has there been much focus on creating access to parks in urban areas. But if passed, Proposition 68 will allocate $725 million to such parks and generate the largest investment ever made for urban parks in our state.
The two sponsors of the bill, Senator Kevin de León and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, come from urban areas and recognized the deep need amongst their constituents for local green spaces. Plus, advocates have been pushing for this for decades.
“It didn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Belinda Faustinos of Nature for All, based in Los Angeles. “It is the result of advocacy that for years has been concerned that monies were going to backcountry wildlife while ignoring the serious and deep need in urban communities.”
Additional measures have been placed in the bond to ensure equitable implementation, such as a provision that a portion of funds (ranging from 15-20% in every chapter of the bill) must be used to benefit disadvantaged communities, as well as monies to provide technical assistance to smaller communities to ensure their projects are shovel-ready, helping them be more competitive to receive the monies. And with close to a million Californians lacking access to safe drinking water, Prop 68 has also prioritized water and wastewater issues, allocating $250M to safe drinking water and $470M regional water sustainability.
Phoebe Seaton of the Leadership Council for Accountability and Justice described the bond as the “next major step for drinking water and wastewater, from emergency to long-term solutions.” Read more about the funding allocations.
What Funders Need to Know
First, funders should be aware that should the bond act be approved by voters, Governor Brown has proposed including more than $1 billion of these bond funds in his budget proposal for the state’s 2018-2019 fiscal year. This means funds could become available later this year.
Secondly, foundations are always urged to be fully aware of lobbying restrictions for ballot measures. Rosemary Fei of Adler & Colvin joined us to share the limitations for public and private foundations in regards to lobbying restrictions for foundations, and walked us through the countless opportunities funders have to further their philanthropic goals before and after the election without stepping into lobbying territory. Check out this lobbying overview for foundations from Adler & Colvin.
Sharing Our Gratitude
Many thanks to our speakers:
- Corey Brown, Attorney, Resources Legacy Fund (moderator)
- Belinda Faustinos, Executive Director, Nature for All
- Rosemary E. Fei, Adler & Colvin
- Phoebe Seaton, Co-Founder, and Co-Director, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
We also want to share our gratitude to the 20+ funders who were part of this conversation. Our video conferences and webinars are a great place for funders to learn, connect, and dialog… so check out our upcoming events.