changelabsolutions.org 19 Fund Committing to Finance the Complete Parks System Perhaps the biggest challenge for any community seeking to improve access to parks, open space, and recreational opportunities is to identify an adequate source of funding. A successful parks system needs sufficient resources not only to obtain, improve, and maintain the necessary land and infrastructure but also to support the amenities and programming necessary to maximize community use of park facilities. A few traditional funding mechanisms for public lands, facilities, and programs are taxes, assessments, fees, bonds, grants, and general fund expenditures, often incorporated into a community’s Capital Improvement Program. However, in an era of growing demand for increasingly scarce public funds, parks and recreation programs are often among the first to be defunded. In addition, due to a series of voter initiatives approved in California over the past several decades (beginning with Proposition 13 in 1978), raising revenues has become even more difficult for local governments. To supplement dwindling traditional funding sources, local governments must identify new financing mechanisms for parks and recreation. For example, several communities have successfully structured public-private partnerships to finance new facilities. Others are exploring funding sources that have historically not been used for parks, such as nonprofit hospital community benefits allocations. ChangeLab Solutions has published a white paper, Local Agency Strategies for Funding the Development and Maintenance of Parks and Recreation Facilities in California, that provides details on the most promising potential funding sources, including both traditional funding mechanisms and more creative options that are generally underutilized. Since many elements of a complete parks system are closely related to other features of a community’s built environment, local governments can also explore ways to leverage existing funding streams for parks. For example, funds that are set aside for stormwater management can be used to design parks that aid in that function.