Help Ensure Access for People at Urban Parks
This November, Bay Area residents living in Ward #1 of the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) will have an important ballot choice to make for the director of that ward. That seat was held for many years by Whitney Dotson, with whom I worked to accomplish the Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline Park’s Launch Improvement Project, completed in 2019.
Director Dotson retired late last year, leaving his seat open. The EBRPD Board considered four candidates for appointment to his remaining term and chose Elizabeth Echols. Notably, that was the second time her main opponent in the upcoming election, Norman La Force, was passed over in seeking a director seat on that board.
I won’t reiterate all the concerns being raised in the park-user community around this election, but instead will emphasize how Elizabeth Echols has successfully stepped into her role as Ward #1 director. Specifically, she was a champion for reopening parks for people seeking some relief from the shelter-in-place restrictions of the local health authorities — while ensuring appropriate mask wearing and social distancing.
I’m encouraging everyone who cares about recreational use of SF Bay Area urban parks to get involved in this election. Even if you aren’t in Elizabeth Echol’s ward, you can still express support through Facebook “likes”, donations, endorsements, or other opportunities for involvement with her campaign.
Her campaign website is: Elizabeth4Parks.org
It’s clear to me that we already have a strong and effective advocate on the board for public access to and recreational use of our important urban parks. My sense of Elizabeth’s ability to get things done is buttressed by the unanimous endorsement of her current co-directors on that board. Notably, she is also endorsed by the Park District employees’ union. She is clearly a consensus builder.
Let’s ensure Elizabeth Echols keeps working with and for us all. She has demonstrated her intention and ability to do so.
And how about the regulation of State Parks? Who is in charge? In Morro Bay we have closures of parking lots that create mayhem(people now park on the residential streets and walk into the park with the same social distancing), road closures that make no sense when the road in from the other direction is allowed but makes some residents/people go along way around. Bureaucrats at their worst and no response.
State Parks are operated by State Park Department. You can go on line to make a comment but it’s 180 from East Bay Regional Park District which has an independent elected Board and it’s own property tax revenue.
Count me in as another strong supporter of Elizabeth Echols for Park District Board. Her opponent, Norman LaForce, has opposed or obstructed just about everything involving human recreation on lands managed by the Park District, even in our close-in urban parks and waterfronts. He’s left a long trail of adversaries, from mountain bikers and soccer players to kayakers, windsurfers and kiteboarders. He filed a lawsuit that delayed the Bay Trail link across the back of the racetrack in Albany because the project included better parking at Albany Beach, which improves access for people with dogs. Norman has the Sierra Club endorsement, but I think the Sierra Club is making a bad call on this one. Note that virtually every current East Bay Regional Park District Director is endorsing Elizabeth Echols to remain on the Board, and not be replaced by Norman LaForce. Elizabeth has a balanced approach to urban shorelines. Norman is a habitat-protection fundamentalist.
The Mayor of Richmond, Tom Butt, has also endorsed Elizabeth Echols to represent his city on the Board of the Park District. He explains his endorsement in his newsletter to his constituents: http://www.tombutt.com/forum/2020/20-9-30.html