California State Budget Allocates $1 Billion-Plus to Expand Outdoor Access
San Ysidro, Calif.- Leaders of the Newsom Administration were joined by U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other state and local officials to lay out an ambitious strategy to expand outdoor access for all Californians, including the largest-ever state investment in creating and revitalizing parks and open space in underserved communities.
California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot and California State Parks Director Armando Quintero announced $548.3 million in state grant funding to deliver new parks to more than 100 communities across California and kicked off the Newsom Administration's "Outdoors for All" initiative to enable all Californians, regardless of zip code or income, to access parks and open space.
"People from all over the world come to visit our state's natural wonders, but too many Californians today lack access to parks and open space in their own neighborhoods," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "This historic investment will revitalize and create new parks in more than 100 local communities, dramatically expanding access to the outdoors across the state and ensuring more Californians from all walks of life can reap the benefits for our hearts, minds and bodies for generations to come."
The announcements followed a roundtable discussion and tour at the site of newly state-funded Beyer Park, which will be the first public park created in San Ysidro in more than 25 years. The project will convert vacant open space currently fenced off from public use into a new 13-acre park that will provide safe and accessible outdoor space for residents and community groups, mitigate air pollutants, and support a healthy and thriving community. More than 4,200 people live within half a mile of the project site. The Beyer Park project is receiving $8.5 million in funding from State Parks' Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant Program.
"Governor Newsom's historic $1 billion-plus investment in the 2021 state budget to expand parks access and today's launch of the Outdoors for All initiative are once-in-a-generation opportunities to improve outdoor access for all Californians," Secretary Crowfoot said. "Creating new parks across the state – including in many communities currently without adequate outdoor public space – will make a real, lasting difference in the lives of young people and all residents. This is one more way the Governor and Legislature – in partnership with local leaders and groups around the state – are working to improve the lives of all Californians."
"California State Parks is incredibly proud to announce grant funding for projects that will improve access to parks and open space and contribute to a better quality of life for so many Californians," said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. "Many of these projects will become a source of community pride, thanks to neighborhood residents, local park agencies and non-profit organizations who worked together to design vibrant parks reflecting each community's unique needs and creativity."
"I thank Governor Newsom, Secretary Crowfoot, and our state legislative leaders for this forward looking, historic investment in California's outdoor resources," said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. "Here in San Diego, we recently launched a Parks for All of Us initiative to ensure that no matter where San Diegans live, work or play, they have access to a high-quality park. The thoughtful investments in this initiative will help fulfill my equitable vision for our local communities."
The Outdoors for All initiative expands outdoor access to all Californians through focused investments in open space infrastructure, outdoor programming, and improvements to permit applications and other state business practices, with a priority to expanding access in underserved communities. The Administration will advance opportunities to expand equitable access across California's public lands by exploring ways to increase investments, enhance and expand programs, develop a diverse and inclusive workforce, and expand community-based partnerships. Public listening sessions are planned for early 2022 to engage communities across California as the Natural Resources Agency crafts a roadmap for the Outdoors for All initiative.
As part of the initiative's launch, the California Natural Resources Agency unveiled a new sports team-branded license plate that seeks to build equitable access to California's nature, culture and history. The first license plate in the series, rolling out Friday in partnership with the Los Angeles Rams, will enable LA Rams fans to show their team spirit while supporting access to parks and outdoor spaces. Revenue generated by the sports license plates will expand access to parks across the state and improve these parks and open spaces. The California Natural Resources Agency looks forward to working with other professional teams in 2022 to launch additional team-branded license plates for California drivers.
The Newsom Administration also highlighted the appointment of Katherine Toy as the first-ever Deputy Secretary for Access at the California Natural Resources Agency. Toy, who joins the state after four years helping to lead the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, will help spearhead the Outdoors for All initiative across the Natural Resources Agency's 27 departments, commissions and conservancies as well as through an interagency working group and partnerships with federal, Tribal and local governments.
The 2021 state budget allocated an unprecedented $1 billion-plus to expand outdoor access across California, particularly in disadvantaged communities. This funding includes more than $500 million in grants to local communities for parks infrastructure and programs including transportation and education, and more than $500 million to expand access to State Parks and other state facilities through infrastructure and programs improvements. The Outdoors for All initiative encompasses additional programs to expand equitable access at State Parks, including the new California State Park Adventure Pass announced this summer with the First Partner's Office. The program provides free entry for fourth graders and their families at 19 amazing state parks throughout the state.