With $393.3 million available, December 14, 2020 is the deadline to apply for the fourth round of grant funding through the Statewide Park Program (SPP). This funding is established through Proposition 68, or the 2018 Bond Act, and is ultimately a continuation of funding that was first made available through the previous Proposition 84, or the 2006 Bond Act. Proposition 84 initially made funds available and the SPP was subsequently established as the grant program and funding mechanism in 2008 through AB 31 (De Leon). Prop. 84 originally made two rounds of funding available, totaling $368 million. Continued by Prop. 68 and now in its fourth round, with over $393 million for eligible projects, “this competitive program will create new parks and new recreation opportunities in underserved communities across California.”
The Application Guide identifies eligible applicants for these grant funds as cities, counties, specified types of districts, joint powers authorities, and 501(c)(3) non-profits. The guide also stipulates that “a project must involve either development or a combination of acquisition and development to: (1) create a new park, or (2) expand an existing park, or (3) renovate an existing park” and “all projects must create or renovate at least one recreation feature.” Additionally, a project can encompass “major support amenities” like restrooms, parking lots, landscaping, etc., but an application with the sole purpose of developing major support amenities will be less competitive.
The previous round of SPP funding was awarded to new park, expansion, and renovation projects serving 26 different counties. Awarded projects will provide the communities they serve with new and expanded recreation opportunities like picnic and BBQ areas, shade structures, exercise features, public art, lighted parks, sports fields and courts, amphitheaters, playgrounds, and bike and skate parks. Many of the new park and expansion projects will also acquire land through the grants. A detailed list and description of the projects awarded from round three of the program is available online.
To aide in the process, application workshop webinars for the SPP are being hosted through August. Agendas and sign-up information can be found on the SPP website, along with additional guidance and information on technical assistance. With questions about the webinars and SPP, you may email your county’s “Competitive Review Project Officer.” The California Department of Parks and Recreation Office of Grants and Local Services suggests beginning planning for the competitive program now. Applications will only be accepted online, will become available by August 2020, and have a deadline of December 14, 2020.