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Mayor’s Budget Forum & “No Funding” for Rincon Hill Park

Rincon residents have an opportunity to talk to both our Mayor Ed Lee and our District Supervisor Jane Kim this Monday at the Mayor’s Budget Town Hall at the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium (100 Larkin, next to Civic Center BART/Muni Metro station) starting at 6pm. Reference: http://www.sfmayor.org/index.aspx?recordid=285&page=846

One issue that I am hopeful SEVERAL will take up is the claim by the Recreation and Parks Department’s Director Phil Ginsburg that “We want as much open space as possible, but we also need to have a way to care for it.” That was his quote in reference to why the City’s Recreation and Parks Department is unwilling to accept the donation of the park built in front of the new Rincon Green Apartments at 333 Harrison Street. Read the article here (hopefully, the shared full article will appear: http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Creating-new-park-no-picnic-for-broke-city-4490422.php?t=27ec6d327d3f99889e

There is a big problem with Mr. Ginsburg’s statement because Rincon Hill residents pay several times over the quoted private firm cost of maintaining the park.

Rincon Hill’s non-redevelopment zoned blocks pay property taxes every year, and there is an explicit CIty Charter set aside that funds Phil Ginsburg’s Recreation and Parks Department. You can find it under Article 16 of the San Francisco City Charter, Section 16.107, PARK, RECREATION AND OPEN SPACE FUND.

Here’s the most relevant text that tells us how much is collected for the Recreation and Parks Department’s operations from each of our property tax dollars:
“The City will continue to set aside from the annual tax levy, for a period of thirty years starting with the fiscal year 2000-2001, an amount equivalent to an annual tax of two and one-half cents ($0.025) for each one hundred dollars ($100) assessed valuation. Revenues obtained thereby shall be in addition to, and not in place of, any sums normally budgeted for the Department and, together with interest, shall be deposited into the Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund.”

In plain english, this means that for every $1.00 of property tax collected (of the base Prop 13 1.00% portion), there is 2.5 cents set aside for Phil Ginsburg to maintain parks for residents.

You can look up the municipal code for yourself here: http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/California/charter_sf/1996charter?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:sanfrancisco_ca$sync=1

Okay, so how much does Rincon Hill contribute? God Bless Phil Ting because he provided the public of San Francisco with an Excel spreadsheet of all 200+ thousand parcels and their assessed values as of May 2012. You can find it here: https://data.sfgov.org/Property/San-Francisco-Property-Assessment-Roll-FY1112-Q3/d5pu-ci4g

That file along with a $10 map of Assessor’s Blocks from the Department of Public Works will help you figure out how much was paid in property taxes with some basic formatting of block numbers from the data set and the use of PivotTables in Microsoft Excel.

The non-redevelopment blocks of the Rincon Hill neighborhood (basically 2nd Street to the waterfront, Folsom to Bryant Street) were valued at $2.8 billion last year (Fiscal Year 2011-12). That translates to base Prop 13 1.00% property taxes of about $28 million.

The City’s General Fund receives 56.59% of that amount – so $15.8 million.
Phil Ginsburg’s Recreation and Parks Department’s Open Space Fund Set Aside is 2.5% of the $28 million – or $698 thousand.

Let’s be clear … $698 thousand dollars of money absolutely went to the Recreation and Parks Department from Assessor Blocks 3764, 3765, 3766, 3767, 3768, 3769, 3744, 3745, 3746, 3747, 3748, and 3749. Big contributors include the block that includes The Infinity condo complex (block 3745) and One Rincon Hill (block 3765) which were valued at $727 million and $388 million respectively, and contributed about $182 thousand (out of the $7.3 million in base Prop 13 1.00% property taxes) and $97 thousand (out of the $3.9 million in base Prop 13 1.00% property taxes) just from those buildings completed in 2008 to specifically add funding for parks operations to the Recreation and Parks Department set aside fund (where it cannot be cut by the Mayor or Supervisors). Any guess what the City’s property tax receipts for those two blocks were prior to the developments of the 400′ twin Infinity Towers (which, by the way, have almost twice the assessed value as what’s being noted for this planned Warriors Arena all by themselves) and the 600′ One Rincon Hill tower? Any guess what the buildings under construction will add on top of the $28 million in base Prop 13 1% property tax revenues each year? I’m going to guess  our base Prop 13 1% taxes will ratchet up to $40 million per year, easily, starting in 2014-2015 with 333 Harrison, 45 Lansing, 201 Folsom, and one or two of the four buildings approved for Fremont Street built out.

Phil Ginsburg doesn’t count these new property tax revenues of $698 thousand dollars from the buildings in Rincon Hill as money intended to take care of a park like Rincon Hill Park at 333 Harrison Street? Really?!?

Maybe $698 thousand is peanuts … but keep in mind, Emerald Fund got a quote for maintenance costs for Rincon Hill Park, and it came out to be around $30,000 – that’s the cost you can see in the Rincon Hill CBD’s stale service plan spreadsheet here: http://www.rinconhillcbd.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Service-Plan-2013-1.xlsx

God bless the public worker unions, I’m sure that the costs for cutting the lawn and spraywashing the kid’s playground equipment at Rincon Hill Park will be pricier than $30,000 per year when the City does it. Let’s just say it costs 3x’s as much … $90,000 per year. Well, that would still mean Rincon Hill buildings are contributing $608 thousand dollars to the Recreation and Parks Department under the FY 2011-12 valuations for maintaining other parks in the City.

Here’s the bottom line. Someone needs to go to the Mayor’s Budget meeting on Monday and tell him (and Supervisor Kim, though she’s already aware of this) that Rincon HIll is NOT a redevelopment zone, and as such, 100% of our property tax dollars get distributed to the taxing entities and the set asides as any property tax dollar paid in the Sunset or Excelsior or whatever other neighborhood. In fact, $698 thousand dollars of our tax dollars went to Phil Ginsburg’s Recreation and Parks Department.

What the hell is the problem with the City when residents of Rincon Hill are already contributing 7x’s (21x’s the private company annual maintenance estimate) the costs to maintain Rincon Hill Park and the City’s Parks Director says there is no money for a new park for this new residential neighborhood?!?

By the way, thank you very much to our Mission Bay neighbor Corinne Woods who along with Isabel Wade led our 5 community meetings in the fall of 2009 where myself and other neighbors helped design Rincon Hill Park. It is an insult that the City won’t accept this community park when we contribute much more than what most other neighborhoods in the City contribute to the Open Space Fund for Rec. and Parks and we get told “You can look at the menu, but you cannot eat … but you do have to pay for this other neighborhood’s dinner, you starving suckers.”

Oh, and don’t forget we were cut out of Muni 12-Folsom bus service as a neighborhood on December 5, 2009 so that we are encouraged to drive our cars and shorten our lives with more air pollution and pedestrian deaths (and injuries).

How confident do you feel about the City actually implementing anything they promise to this neighborhood, much less the mitigations that the community is asking for in order to accept 3 million or so additional visitors per year for the Warriors Arena? If the track record tells us anything, we had better not hold our breath (except to stay alive a little longer because the air pollution is going to get worse with all the City-encouraged and approved car congestion increases).


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