REDWOOD CITY — County parks backers said they would try again after a $400 million countywide parks tax went down in a stunning defeat Tuesday.
Needing two-thirds of the vote to pass, it was clear early on election night that the one-eighth-cent sales tax didn’t stand a chance, said San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation Executive Director Julia Bott. Bott worked on the campaign garnering support from the county Board of Supervisors and area city council members for two years.
More than 45 percent of voters opposed the tax, known as Measure A, Bott said. “This is a big heartbreaker,” she said. The loss shocked some parks supporters who had been buoyed after an April poll of 600 likely county voters showed support ranging from 67 percent to 80 percent, Bott said.
Bott and others on Wednesday questioned the wisdom of placing the tax on the same ballot as a handful of other state taxes — for education, smoking prevention and alternative energy — all of which lost. “At the same time, it was unlikely there would ever be a ballot without funding requests,” Bott said.
Disappointed by the loss, county Parks and Recreation Director Dave Holland said he anticipates a similar measure could be put on the ballot two years from now. “Measure A would have provided the funding for many needed improvements and staffing,” he said. “Without [it], we will still continue to improve our park facilities, only at a much slower pace.”
Measure A would have increased the county’s sales tax to 8.375 percent, raising about $16 million a year in dedicated parks funds for cities and the county over 25 years. Without the funds, the county and cities will have to reset their priorities to focus on safety-related repairs, Holland said.
For county-owned parks that includes washed-out bridges and culverts at Memorial Park in Pescadero and the eroded Promenade at Coyote Point Recreation Area in San Mateo.