EditorialBack in 1934, when the financial crisis on Wall Street was even worse than it is now, local voters nevertheless went to the polls and agreed to form the East Bay Regional Park District and to tax themselves to finance it. It's time to do it again. Measure WW, which is on the Nov. 4 ballot, is a $500-million bond measure that seeks to extend Measure AA that voters approved 20 years ago. That measure, which was passed in 1988 and is due to expire at the end of this year, raised $225 million for the park district to connect trails, purchase open space, restore creeks and build recreation areas and new parks. But the district needs continued funding to meet the needs of a growing East Bay population and also to more aggressively protect open space against encroachment. Measure WW will do that by continuing to provide needed funds. It would extend but not raise the $10 ceiling on every $100,000 of assessed valuation on properties in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. No one would pay a higher rate than was approved 20 years ago, a rate that is actually lower than the one voters approved in the midst of the Great Depression.
Vote for Measure WW to expand parks, open space
Measure WW, which will need a two-thirds or 66.6 percent approval from voters to pass, would fund 67 specific items identified by the park district, including $13.7 million that would be used to acquire park land on the Pleasanton and Sunol ridges and Devaney Canyon. The funds are also earmarked for a bicycle loop trail system, the construction of parking and staging areas, picnic, camping and visitor facilities. Another $2 million would go to acquire and construct trail connections from Garin Park in Dublin to the Pleasanton Ridge, and another $2.25 million would go towards completing extensions south to Pleasanton and north to Concord on a 28-mile trail.
Other nearby projects include $5.6 million to acquire land in Doolan Canyon and Tassajara Hills north of Dublin and Pleasanton; $4.7 million to connect the Pleasanton Ridge and Calaveras Ridge Trail to west Dublin hills; $630,000 to complete a trail connection under the Interstate 580-680 interchange linking Dublin and Pleasanton; $4.9 million to renovate the Sunol Regional Wilderness visitor center, campground and picnic areas and expand park land there; and $7.6 million to extend a ridge trail connecting Fremont and Sunol through Niles Canyon.
As our reporter Janet Pelletier pointed out in her cover story on Measure WW last week, park district leaders acknowledge that this may not be the best time to ask voters for money. But East Bay Regional Parks District General Manager Pat O'Brien and park district board president Ayn Wieskamp said that even with the economic uncertainties, a survey showed that 73 percent of potential voters support the bond measure. They like what Measure AA accomplished in the past 20 and don't want the park district's efforts to preserve and protect the environment to slow down or stop. Voters in the troubling year of 1934 overwhelmingly approved setting up the East Bay Regional Park District. They approved Measure AA to add to the funds 20 years ago. Now it's time to do it again by voting for Measure WW on the Nov. 4 ballot.