Legislature Sends Landmark Parks, Water, and Flood Control Bond to Governor’s Desk

Saturday, September 16, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Both the California State Senate and State Assembly voted this evening to pass Senate Bill 5, which represents an agreement between legislative leaders and Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to place a roughly $4 billion general obligation bond measure on the June 2018 ballot to fund California’s parks, water and flood control infrastructure.


Once signed into law, Senate Bill 5 (de León et al) would create the first bond measure in state history to focus on social equity, including access to parks for all Californians and targeting water and flood control investments to the areas with the most unmet need. SB 5 responds to the state’s most important water, flood, and resource needs.


“Over one million Californians still lack access to safe drinking water, and too many children lack access to healthy outdoor spaces,” bill author and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said. “SB 5 will finally give voters a chance to fund these critical priorities and protect our quality of life.”


“With this bond, California is shoring up its investments in critical water infrastructure to prepare for climate change and other natural disasters and help ensure Californians have access to clean drinking water,” said Governor Brown.


“Californian families can rejoice at today’s legislative victory! SB 5 is an exemplary depiction of legislative cooperation between both houses that will bring $4 billion in long overdue investments into our state’s water, parks and recreational infrastructure. I truly, commend the leadership of Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Speaker Anthony Rendon for nurturing this legislation to completion; ensuring that it equitably and accurately reflects the needs of all California, from coast to coast,” exclaimed Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, (D-Coachella), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife. “Investments in parks are not solely about recreation they are also about public safety, education, health, wellness and creating infinite opportunities for our communities to succeed and thrive. This measure also takes into account money for safe, clean, reliable drinking water; programs critical for those living in rural, ill equipped places. Most significantly, this parks and water bond will prioritize 20% of its funding for parks projects in our state’s most disadvantaged areas, that lack adequate or in some cases any outdoor recreational infrastructure.”  




SB 5 (de León et al): Drought, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection & Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018


Three Major Spending Categories (approximate figures):

  • Parks:                                                 $1.2 billion
  • Flood:                                                 $550 million
  • Water:                                                 $1 billion
  • Climate/Conservancies:                 $1.3 billion




  • $725 Million for Parks-Starved Communities. This will build and rehabilitate urban parks across California in disadvantaged and park-poor communities. This is a grant program operated by the California Department of Parks. For the first time, the bond includes funding for planning which will help the most disadvantaged communities, and requires special attention for Central Valley, Inland Empire, Gateway, and desert communities which have long been underserved.


  • $218 Million for State Parks. New program ($30M) for low-cost visitor accommodations along the coast. This was a key recommendation of the Parks Forward Commission.  Most of the remaining state parks money is for deferred maintenance. None will go to new acquisitions.  There are allocations for the department’s revenue generation program, local agencies that operate state parks through contracts, and improvements to county fairs, which are often evacuation sites following floods, fires, or other disasters.


  • $250 Million in Local Government Per Capita Funding and Regional Park Districts. Of this, $200 is for per capita grants to local jurisdictions with base grants to cities of $200K and base grants to counties of $400K. There is $15M for our smallest jurisdictions with less than 200K in population, and $5M for state parks operated by nonprofits.  $40M is set aside for local governments that have passed their own park measures, and $30M is set aside for regional park districts. 


  • $162 Million for Improvements along Rivers and Streams. Funding for the Los Angeles River divided between two Los Angeles conservancies as well as funding for other rivers: Santa Ana, Lower American, Guadalupe, Russian, Santa Margarita, and Clear Lake. The bond would also fund the statewide river parkways program and the statewide urban creeks program.


  • $175 Million for Ocean, Beach,  and Coastal Programs. Includes $35M for the Ocean Protection Council,  and separate allocations for protection of coastal watersheds, forests, and wildlife areas.




  • Flood protection funding is focused on Delta and Central Valley which is where the state has its greatest fiscal obligations, but also with $100M for storm water projects across the state and $100M for multi-benefit flood projects across the state.




  • $250 million for safe drinking water in regions with inadequate water supplies, with $30M set-aside in the San Joaquin Valley.


  • $80 million is set aside for groundwater remediation in places like San Gabriel, Orange County, and San Fernando Valley.


  • $290 million is committed to SGMA, groundwater plans, water recycling, and the SWEEP program at CDFA to improve water and energy irrigation efficiency.




  • $767 million for WCB and Conservancies.  Funding for each state conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board. This includes $200M for the Salton Sea, and $200M for grants for multi-benefit watershed agreements.
  • $443 million for Climate Adaptation and Resiliency.  Funding for bird and waterfowl habitat, adaptation projects for fish and wildlife, forestry adaptation and fire resiliency projects in the Sierra and Cascades, funding for the Bay Area Conservancy Program’s climate work, sequestration projects on farms and ranches, urban forestry, and the California Conservation Corps.