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Park users survey gauges willingness to pay

Park Trail Usage Patterns and Public Sentiment Toward Maintenance and Operation Cost.

From the East Bay Regional Park District Trail System (California)

Map of California

Executive Summary
A large majority of voters in the East Bay Regional Park District (88%) agree that the system of regional parks and trails is a "valuable public resource." Most voters also recognize the need to properly maintain this public resource (86%). When asked directly whether they would support or oppose a special benefit assessment of $5 per year on parcel owners in the district "in order to provide funds to operate and maintain a safe and aesthetically attractive system of trails and related facilities, which would include funds for park ranger services, safety patrols, fire suppression, and weed abatement,"

  • 77% indicated support foa a $5 assessment,
  • 5% indicated that they were unuse, and
  • 18% indicated opposition to a $5 assessment.
"Voters are well aware of the valuable public resource that exists in the East Bay regional park and trail system."

In addition, those voters who were initially uncertain, or who opposed the proposed $5 benefit assessment, were given a short list of possible consequences to the trail system if additional funds were not raised for maintenance. After hearing the list of consequences to the trail system, an additional 4 percent changed from their initial position and indicated that they would support the $5 assessment. Thus, when voters are reminded of the need, overall support for the proposed assessment increases to 81 percent.

Major Findings
As noted above, a very large majority of voters in the East Bay Regional Park District (88%) agree that the system of regional parks and trails is a "valuable public resource and service for the citizens of the East Bay." Almost as many, 87 percent, agree that "the availability of nearby recreational parks, picnic areas, wilderness areas, open space and trails improves the quality of life" for local residents. Most voters also recognize the need to properly maintain this public resource (86%) "despite the current shortage of available revenues." These attitudes are very consistent and clear. Local voters recognize the value of the regional Park system and are favorable toward properly maintaining this important public resource.

Voters' Trail Usage Patterns
Very few voters (17%) say that they never use the regional trails. About 18 percent say they use the trails rarely. The remaining 64 percent use the trails "sometimes" (34%) or "often" (30%). Figure 5 also shows that the level og voter use of the regional parks is somewhat similar to the levels of voter use of regional trails. In addition, those who regularly use the parks tend to regularly use the trails. Conversely, those who seldom use the parks tend to eldom use the trails.

Support for the Proposed $5 Benefit Assessment
After asking about attitudes, beliefs, and usage patterns of the trails system, voters were asked directly whether they would support or oppose a special benefit assessment of $5 per year on parcel owners in the district "in order to provide funds to operate and maintain a safe and aesthetically attractive system of trails and related facilties, which would include funds for park ranger services, safety patrols, fire suppression, and weed abatement." As discussed previously,

  • 77% indicated support for a $5 assessment,
  • 5% indicated that they were unsure, and
  • 18% indicated opposition to a $5 assessment.

Conclusion
Voters are well aware of the valuable public resource that exists in the East Bay regional park and trail system. Further, voters are willing to preserve and protect this resource. While voters recognize that times are tough and that budgets are tight, they nevertheless, are willing to support the proposed $5 per year assessment for on-goning and preventive maintenance of the regional trails. Finally, the greatest levels of support for the proposed benefit assessment comes from the many citizens of the East Bay who regularly use the regional parks and trails.

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