Guest speaker, Tom O’Mara
Love your parks

Tues., April 22, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors will consider a recommendation to implement impact fees on new development. They have contracted with and will be discussing a 78-page report prepared by the Oakland consulting firm MuniFinancial. If enacted, the proposed fees will fund nine essential functions of county government, but will not fund any parks/open space development in County areas.

The report, which is available online, discusses at length the need for parks in county areas. It cites the Shasta County General Plan recommendation of 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents (p. 33), and recommends nearly 900 acres of new parklands by 2030 based on projected population increase (p. 34).

However, the General Plan offers the following loophole: “Parklands dedication and fee payment will be required only if a local public agency recreation provider, such as a school or special district, agrees to accept and maintain them.” It further states that the County has no plans to develop park facilities.

So after citing the need for parks for County residents, and then saying, “Too bad, there’s no plan for them,” the proposal is to take some of the development impact fee monies to fund parks in Redding, specifically Enterprise Park, Caldwell Park and the Redding Soccer Park. The plan would require County residents with recreation needs to drive many miles (at $4/gallon?) to see the benefit of their impact fees.

At this point you may be thinking, “Who needs parks, anyway? We’re surrounded by millions of acres of national forests, and there’s lots of vacant land in the County at this time.”

While those may be decent objections now, the rapidly rising cost of transportation mentioned above and the high levels of development being projected by ShastaForward and others are likely to change both factors. If you are a citizen who feels adequate public parks are an important piece of an overall community health strategy, letting your supervisor know this before Tuesday’s meeting is very important.

MuniFinancial estimates a deficit, even including development impact fees, of approximately $39 million in order to meet the 10 acres per 1,000 residents cites above. They go on to say, “. . . donations of land . . . to the County park and open system could help the County meet the facility standard.”

Such a donation was recently received for a Happy Valley Community Park from Zak and Veronica Peltier, trustees of the Peltier Family Trust, established Dec. 27, 1994. This is a beautiful and eminently suitable 20-acre site along Happy Valley Road between the elementary school and West Valley High School. The likelihood of this becoming a park that local residents can use will be greatly enhanced by the County’s following through on a Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan, which will then permit use of the development impact fees for this purpose.

If you want outstanding public parks in County areas, please let your supervisors know!

Tom O'Mara

Tom O’Mara is a volunteer Civil Rights Advocate for the Redding Police Department.