Prop. 68: Best parks bond ever

“There are kids living in poverty less than a mile from the American River Parkway who’ve never been there,” says Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. It’s no wonder: The Parkway near South Natomas doesn’t look anything like the well-used Parkway in Carmichael or Fair Oaks. While the American River, a short bike ride away, teems with all kinds of fun critters and swimming holes, it is hardly accessible.

There is a very good chance that will change. On June 5, voters will have the opportunity to launch the biggest parks-building project in American history, and the American River is on the list of places that are guaranteed funding. Prop 68, the Parks, Environment and Water Bond, would make more than $1 billion (of a total $4.1 billion) available to cities and counties with the primary goal of creating outdoor spaces for “park-deprived” Californians.

At least 10 million of those dollars are earmarked for the Lower American River Conservancy, a program created by legislation McCarty carried in 2016. Among the projects that money will fund: Sutter’s Landing, a scruffy piece of ground located near Midtown and Arden Arcade, will become home to the biggest park in Sacramento.

“This will be our Golden Gate Park, our Central Park,” says Mark Rossow, staffer to Assemb. Eduardo Garcia, co-author of AB 18, the bill that created the parks bond.

Another recipient of resources from Prop 68 is a land trust working to build bike trails and parks in Oak Park. And more than $15 million is pledged to the Del Rio Trail, which would span 4.5 miles through Meadowview and Pocket to Land Park. Picture throngs of kids and grownups walking and biking to school, work, church and newly built parks.

The parks component of Prop 68 will provide similar amenities to every California city and county. That will have profound impact on millions of people’s lives. The bond’s water and environment components are equally dramatic, funding several big projects in our region. Because of the way the web of life works, the provisions for safe drinking water, flood protection, climate-change preparedness, and wildlife habitat protection buttress one another. And pumping $4.1 billion into the state’s economy would be a boost to working Californians.

There are a lot of important reasons to vote in this election. A big one: Vote yes on Prop 68.