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William Land Park, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

California’s Urban Parks and Healthy Communities Act

Parks and recreation provide opportunities for building strong communities

By Chris Micheli, July 30, 2022 3:46 pm

California has numerous formal acts in statute. Public Resources Code Division 5, Chapter 1.55 provides the State Urban Parks and Healthy Communities Act, which is contained in Sections 5095 to 5095.6. Chapter 1.55 was added in 2001 by Chapter 877. Section 5095 names the act.

Section 5095.1 contains eleven legislative findings and declarations, including that parks and recreation provide opportunities for building strong communities and promote ethnic and cultural harmony.

Section 5095.2 provides definitions for the following terms: “active recreational purpose”; “department”; “director”; “facility”; “fund”; “nonurbanized local agency”; “special district”; “state agency”; and, “urbanized or heavily urbanized local agencies.”

Section 5095.3 creates, in the State Treasury, the State Urban Parks and Healthy Communities Fund. The department must expend moneys from this fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to provide grants to state agencies, including state conservancies in existence on January 1, 2002, urbanized or heavily urbanized local agencies, and community-based organizations. Funds necessary to administer this chapter are required to be appropriated in the annual Budget Act.

Section 5095.4 requires the director to develop, in consultation with the State Department of Education, a competitive grant program to assist state parks, state conservancies in existence as of January 1, 2003, urbanized and heavily urbanized local agencies, and community-based organizations within those jurisdictions, working in collaboration, to provide outdoor educational opportunities to children.

In addition, the department is required to make one-third of any funds appropriated for the purposes of this chapter available to give special priority to providing increased access for elementary schoolage children in grades 2 to 8, inclusive, to conservancy or state, community, and regional park properties and must give priority, in awarding a grant pursuant to this section, to all of the specified entities.

The amount of a grant awarded pursuant to this section may not be less than $20,000 or more than $200,000. A grant may be expended for any of the specified purposes. Also, the department may gather information from the applicants as to the effectiveness of these programs in meeting program objectives.

Applicant agencies may enter into contracts with other public agencies or entities to provide unique interpretive skills or to present authentic, curriculum-based programs in units of conservancy properties or state, community, or regional park systems for services not otherwise provided. The purpose of this subdivision is to authorize the applicants to provide programming services, equipment, and materials that assist in the curriculum program or provide educational activities that assist in the presentation of cultural traditions.

Section 5095.5 requires the department to allocate two-thirds of any funds appropriated for the purposes of this chapter to provide grants to urbanized or heavily urbanized local agencies or community-based organizations within these jurisdictions for the acquisition and development of properties for active recreational purposes. In addition, eligible projects are required to meet specified criteria.

A grant received pursuant to this section may be expended to acquire the fee title or other interest in real property. If an application proposes to acquire less than fee title, the applicant must demonstrate in the application, to the satisfaction of the department, that the proposed project will provide public benefits that are commensurate with the type and duration of the interest in real property to be acquired.

Every applicant for a grant pursuant to this section and the entity that will operate and maintain the property, if that entity is different than the applicant, is required to agree to comply with all of the specified requirements.

Section 5095.6 requires this chapter to be implemented only upon appropriation of sufficient funds to the department for that purpose.

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