Unfortunately, as far as NAP management and advocates are concerned, the
taxpayer's money is an invasive weed that must be eradicated, no matter what the consequences. Richard Pryor once said,
"Cocaine was God's way of telling me I had too much money." We contend that NAP is God's way of telling San
Francisco Recreation and Park Department that they have too much money!
When questioned at a June 28, 2005 NAP workshop as to what the
total cost of NAP will be to the taxpayers of San Francisco, SFRPD Acting General Manager Yomi Agunbiade
responded, "I don't know...". In fact, SFRPD has been disturbingly
evasive regarding the costs of NAP.
Since NAP/SFRPD has failed to
respond to the many public requests for financial accountability, we are left with no other choice but to perform our own
calculations in an effort to estimate NAP’s cost to the taxpayer. We have
very little to work with, as most projects are buried in budgets, often combined with other projects not related to NAP.
We have utilized the SFRPD web
site which outlines the Capital Projects using Open Space Funds for our financial data. Please click here to visit the SFRPD web site for details.
We have located two projects,
one completed, and one budgeted which provide the best financial data available to us:
This completed project was exclusively
NAP, and the cost of acquisition of the property (approximately 3 million City dollars) has been excluded for purposes
of this calculation.
The Pine Lake property is not all a Natural Area, but the Meadow rehabilitation is not as complex
or labor intensive as the Natural Area portion. The cost/acre across both areas is $157,366.33. Had SFRPD provided figures for the projects
separately, we would have used the NAP figures only.
NAP proposes to include 1,102.4
acres of parklands in its program. We can use the actual cost per acre for the Balboa
Natural Area ($167,639.44) and the projected cost per acre for the Pine Lake Natural Area-Meadow ($157,366.33) projects
to estimate the aggregate cost for NAP's proposed 1,102.4 acres. The average cost per acre of the two projects is $162,502.88. If
you multiply the average cost per acre by the total acreage for NAP (1,102.4), the capital cost to create these Natural Areas
would be in excess of 179 million dollars!!!!
Since the Open Space Funding
from Prop. C is estimated to be only 12 million dollars per year for all SFRPD Capital Projects, it appears we would
have to designate ALL of those funds for some 15 years to build just these natural areas.
We must also consider the money
which will continue to be taken out of the Operating Budget for SFRPD to administer and maintain NAP once these Capital Projects
are completed. It is unclear exactly how many gardeners NAP maintenance would require,
and how many volunteers would be needed. So far NAP has budgeted for 8 gardeners who earn $41,886
to $50,830/year plus benefits (conservatively estimated at 30% of their salary).
Source of the data is as follows: Job classification is #3417 and can
be found at http://www.sfgov.org/dhr.
SFRPD gardeners have reported
to NAP RAP that gardeners allocated to NAP are paid the top salary - NAP/SFRPD considers them more experienced/valuable. The proposed NAP operations budget for 2005-2006 is $975,000.
If and when implementation of NAP occurs, we can expect this budget to increase substantially. However, NAP has not
given us any indication as to what staffing levels might be.
The final resource SF Parks have for their care
are the citizens who volunteer to work in the parks. Sadly, SFRPD has a volunteer
office which apparently funnels volunteers to the NAP whether they agree philosophically with NAP or not. This has discouraged citizens from volunteering. Very few
people see the value in destroying healthy plants in our parks merely because they are a species undesirable to SFRPD. Please click to see a heartfelt letter from a former volunteer as submitted recently to PARKSCAN.
We continue to invite NAP to provide us with a full accounting of the costs
of NAP as proposed. We think it is unconscionable for NAP to ask the taxpayers of San Francisco to sign a blank check
for NAP. NAP is not mandated by any government regulation, nor is it justified by any scientific study. NAP has
become a politicized program driven by the ideology of a few highly placed people who prefer native plants to the non-native
plants which fill our parks. If your personal preference is for maintenance and improvement of our parks as they
now exist, we suggest you comment (using our Comments page) to your elected and appointed officials who will eventually decide the fate
of the NAP proposal.