Naming rights for amenities and trails within County of San Diego parks will soon be an occurrence.
A 4-1 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote Jan. 29, with Bill Horn opposed, adopted a new policy covering the naming of county parks and recreation amenities while amending the Board of Supervisors policy which addresses the authority to name county buildings and facilities to reference the new policy.
In keeping with the county’s policy of using one-time funding for one-time purposes, all revenue from naming rights will be used for capital or major maintenance projects rather than for operations or routine maintenance.
Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) had provided multiple suggestions regarding the revenue derived from naming rights. DPR staff recommended a single trust fund, which would allow the account to build quicker and allow for more significant capital projects.
Community feedback indicated a desire to use the revenues in the area for which they are received. DPR staff also offered a “donor’s choice” option in which the sponsor of the naming rights could choose between a single fund, a fund for a specific park, or a fund for a specific park planning area (the county has 24 such areas). The Board of Supervisors gave its support to the donor’s choice distribution.
“In tough times, parks are critical assets to the citizens, and I think anything we can do to bring in other sources of revenue is a good thing,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts.
The naming rights policy has the potential to generate $1.5 million for a five-year period or $6.0 million for a 20-year period. Five years is the minimum term for a naming rights agreement while 20 years is the maximum term. Ten-year and 15-year terms could also be negotiated.
“We’re trying to find money to do things that we could otherwise not do, and this is one way we think we can,” said Paul Davis of the San Diego County Parks Advisory Committee.
“I was happy to hear that they’d move it along,” Ramona Trails Association founder John Degenfelder said of the policy’s passage.
The county has traditionally based the names of parks, preserves, and facilities on geographic location, natural features, or historical context of the area. “We think that the approach to naming actual parks should remain the same,” said DPR director Brian Albright. “Today’s item does not propose a change to this approach to naming parks or regional trails.”
The naming rights would be for amenities within parks including trails or staging areas, conference or meeting rooms, playgrounds or ball fields, gazebos or pavilions, gardens, pools, and basketball, tennis, or volleyball courts. Only amenities not already named would be eligible. “Anything that has been officially named by the County Board of Supervisors would not be eligible,” said DPR deputy director Amy Harbert.
An exception to that would be if a naming rights agreement approved by the Board of Supervisors expires. The new policy allows the DPR director to approve naming rights for terms of five years or less which involve no more than $15,000 in total revenue. Agreements for a longer period or a higher amount must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
In all case,s DPR will ensure that naming rights will not conflict or counter DPR’s mission and goals including the promotion of healthy lifestyles and civic responsibility, promotion of environmental awareness and responsibility, preservation and enhancement of significant natural or historical and cultural resources, resource sustainability and environmental stewardship, promotion of volunteerism and community ownership, promotion of governmental agency partnerships, accessible facilities, enhancement of park safety, and affordable recreation options.
Naming rights proposals which promote drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, or adult entertainment will not be considered, nor will proposals which include religious references or political statements.
Although the prohibition against the promotion of gambling would preclude a park amenity from having an Indian casino as part of its name, an Indian reservation itself is eligible. “Many of the Indian nations are spending a lot of money to get their messages out,” Dave Roberts said. “I just would hate to disenfranchise a group of people who are really trying to invest in San Diego.”
If a naming rights proposal includes signage, a detailed proposal of the signage shall be provided to DPR for review and approval. DPR can specify the sign size, type, and font of any signage or displays.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob noted that if the money was raised by a community organization, the park could be named after a homeowners’ association, a community group, or a distinguished citizen as well as a business. “It could be an organization or something else,” she said.
Fallbrook and Lakeside have community centers within a park; the community center itself would not be eligible for the naming policy but the rooms within the community center would be.
DPR estimates that the auditorium, north room, Eucalyptus room, and computer room at the Fallbrook Community Center could each bring $2,000 to $16,000 per five-year period, which would equate to $8,000 to $64,000 for a 20-year period. The naming rights for playgrounds, including the one at Fallbrook Community Park, could bring $2,000 to $10,000 per five years or $8,000 to $40,000 for 20 years. Tennis courts including the one at Fallbrook Community Park are expected to bring $2,500 to $10,000 for five years or $10,000 to $40,000 for 20 years.
The pricing system has three categories of trails. Category 1 is a low-use trail with a local draw in a rural community; the estimate per mile is $1,000 to $2,000 for five years or $4,000 to $8,000 for 20 years. Category 2 is a moderate-use trail with a local/regional mixed draw in a suburban community and has a per-mile estimate of $2,000 to $4,000 for five years or $8,000 to $16,000 for 20 years.
Category 3 is for high-use trails in urban communities which have a regional draw; the estimate is $4,000 to $10,000 per mile for five years or $16,000 to $40,000 per mile for 20 years. Although the fee is per mile, a trail or loop would not have separate names and the naming rights would cover the entire length of the trail or loop. The eligible trails include one mile in Live Oak Park, two miles in the Santa Margarita Preserve, and four miles in Wilderness Gardens Preserve.
Naming rights for new park amenities or trails could be negotiated at the time the new facilities are being built.
“I think it’s a great policy,” said Supervisor Greg Cox.
Horn’s opposition was based on the fact that the entity with the naming rights did not fund the entire project. “They didn’t pay to put that in. We put that in,” he said.
“I like the idea,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts. “It’s going to make a difference.”