San Diego parks foundation


What is the San Diego Parks Foundation?

The mission statement of the San Diego Parks Foundation (SDPF) states that we will strive to connect all San Diegans to high-quality parks through philanthropic and volunteer contributions to the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department (Department), and will support the Department’s mission to build a world-class, inclusive park system that strengthens communities and provides equitable access to recreational opportunities.SDPF was incorporated in November 2018.  It was specifically formed in cooperation with the leadership of the Department but is completely independent of it. SDPF is led by a board of directors including representation from each of the nine City Council districts and other community leaders. These visionary directors have a desire to generate new financial and volunteer resources for the City’s many neglected parks, under-utilized open spaces, under-funded programs and recreational resources.

Why do we need a parks foundation to support the City of San Diego?

Because taxpayer funds are completely inadequate to maintain aging facilities, develop new ones in mature neighborhoods or address programmatic needs in low income communities.  By way of background, the Department and its more than 1,000 team members operate a park system of over 42,000 acres including 423 parks across all neighborhoods, 60 recreation centers, 13 aquatic complexes and 3 portable pools, 7 skate parks, 18 off-leash dog areas, 3 municipal golf courses, 24 miles of oceanfront shoreline including two fishing piers, and nearly 40,000 acres of trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. The park system serves not only the leisure and fitness needs of its users but provides an open-air venue for many festivals, diverse cultural activities, picnics, concerts, public and family gatherings and it is an important element of San Diego’s attractiveness as a place to live and visit.

In 2019, the City of San Diego provides the Department with a budget of almost 151 million dollars is inadequate to do little more than basic maintenance of these parks. The Park budget competes for funding with other valuable services like Police, Fire, and Transportation; San Diego’s budget decisions are challenging. Thus, the Department has limited resources for capital improvements and facilities maintenance other than the most basic money needed to operate.  In addition, programming is generally user fee financed at recreation sites, such as youth sports and leagues, access to athletic equipment, swimming lessons, Therapeutic Recreation Services (TRS) for individuals with special needs, disabilities, and Senior Citizen Services to name a few. As a result, especially in older and lower-income communities, in addition to poor capital funding available, the fee generated income is inadequate to support consistent programming. Parks in every neighborhood will benefit from the investment of our citizens and other funding sources using the tax-exempt umbrella of SDPF.

What are the priorities of SDPF?

The Foundation plans to:
Promote social equity throughout the City of San Diego Parks system through investments in older neighborhoods with extensive deferred maintenance and poor programmatic funding streams
Find and generate strategic resources to establish a pipeline for both financial and volunteer resources
Create Citywide partnerships to cooperate on innovative projects throughout the Parks system
Organize, promote and coordinate volunteer activities and fundraising to support neighborhood parks
Stimulate public interest in parks and recreation, in the preservation of park and recreation facilities, in citizen education about the value of quality park and recreation activities, and in the promotion of healthy living in our communities
Disseminate information concerning Department activities and interests through social media and other means not supported by the City budget process

What plans does the SDPF have to generate funding?

SDPF will generate funding by:
Creating a vehicle for public donations free from absorption by the City’s General Fund:
Accepting unrestricted public donations
Being a repository for legacy gifts from citizens having a passion for the health of our Park system
Receiving restricted public donations to specific parks or projects deemed consistent with our mission
Generating corporate and family foundation support through grant applications
Hosting the Undertow Golf tournament held at Torrey Pines Golf Course each January
Establishing a tribute plaque program for benches, picnic tables, etc.
Partnering with other organizations to support mutually desirable outcomes such as a tree canopies, canyon improvements, garden clubs, athletic clubs, etc.

How will SDPF decide on projects to support?

 The Foundation Board will fund projects and programs recommended or supported by the Department.  It welcomes suggestions from citizens interested in helping build better parks and recreation facilities, open space and programs.


Will SDPF provide funding outside of the City’s Park and Recreation footprint?

The SDPF’s Board of Directors plan first to provide funding to unfunded Department projects and programs and eventually will consider applications by, or partnerships with, other 501(c)(3)s which promote projects within the purview of the Department’s responsibilities.

How can I learn more about contributing and volunteer activities?

Please visit the Department’s website, or ours under construction (noted above):
Volunteer tab with the City of San Diego Parks system
Volunteer with the SDPF
Our tax ID number is 83-2553368 and our mailing address is P.O. Box 1576, La Jolla, California 92038; all donations will be acknowledged and are full tax deductible