12. Recreation, Culture + Education
REC: Recreation and Parks Department
AAM: Asian Art Museum
ARTS: Arts Commission
FAM: Fine Arts Museums
SCI: Academy of Sciences
WAR: War Memorial and Performing Arts Center
LIB: San Francisco Public Library
CCSF: City College of San Francisco
SFUSD: San Francisco Unified School District


The Recreation, Culture, and Education Service Area encompasses much of what makes San Francisco a rich and vibrant city. San Francisco’s park system has more accessible green space than any other city in the United States. Libraries provide free access to information as well as diverse literary and educational programs, and they are increasingly relied upon to meet San Francisco’s resilience challenges. Our City museums and cultural centers showcase wide-ranging exhibitions and complement the City’s own civic art collection of over 4,000 objects and monuments. An essential part of the City’s social and cultural fabric is our student body; each year San Francisco Unified School District serves 57,000 students, and City College of San Francisco serves 35,000 full-time equivalent students. These educational institutions serve a significant share of San Francisco’s young people of color.

Many of these San Francisco institutions have experienced significant disruptions as a result of COVID-19. Restoring their operations in a resilient and equitable way may require capital support, especially as revenues from regular operations are reduced due to the pandemic.


San Francisco’s recreational, cultural, and educational resources drive our quality of life and underlie our shared experience as a city. Keeping these institutions in a state of good repair is a priority. Within each subsection of this chapter, projects are discussed in the following order: Parks (REC), Cultural Facilities (AAM, ARTS, FAM, SCI, WAR), and Educational Institutions (LIB, CCSF, SFUSD). The projects for this service area are estimated to create over 18,000 jobs over the next 10 years.


The Recreation and Parks Department administers more than 225 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces, including two outside the city limits. The system includes 27 recreation centers, nine swimming pools, five golf courses, and numerous sports venues. The Department’s responsibilities also include the Marina Yacht Harbor, the San Francisco Zoo, Camp Mather, and the Lake Merced Complex.

In June 2016 the voters of San Francisco approved Proposition B, a set-aside of the City’s General Fund for the Recreation and Parks Department to fund ongoing and one-time capital needs. These General Fund dollars complement the voter-approved Neighborhood Parks and Open Space General Obligation Bonds program, passed in 2008, 2012, and 2020, and anticipated to continue in this Plan. Park facilities are also supported by the Open Space Fund, a property tax earmark approved by voters in 2000. With these resources, the Recreation and Parks Department aims to continue making progress against the department’s substantial deferred maintenance needs and to address increasing demands on the system due to population growth.

The Recreation and Parks Department recently updated its asset lifecycle management tool and its associated calculation of deferred maintenance. The Department has continued its planning to address the development, renovation, replacement, and maintenance of capital assets, as well as the acquisition of real property. An annual capital plan is a requirement of Proposition B and includes an equity analysis using Recreation and Parks Commission-adopted metrics.

Cultural Facilities

With some of the oldest and newest construction in the City’s capital portfolio, San Francisco’s cultural institutions present a wide range of needs. From repairing the roofs of the Legion of Honor and Opera House, to protecting the de Young and Academy of Sciences against the foggy conditions in Golden Gate Park, to restoring the publicly held Civic Art Collection, the City’s arts agencies have distinct capital needs.

In November 2018, San Francisco voters approved Proposition E, which allocates 1.5% of the base hotel tax to arts and cultural purposes through the Hotel Room Tax Fund. Proposition E will provide a set-aside for various arts and cultural services including grants and a cultural equity endowment. Arts-related capital projects such as those at the City’s cultural centers would be an eligible use for the Arts Commission from this source which is expected to continue with an annual baseline
for capital.

Educational Institutions

Having recently completed the $196 million Branch Library Improvement Program, the San Francisco Public Library is in the process of planning the renovation of three outstanding branches. The Library’s mission is evolving as access to technology and the provision of services take on a greater role in providing services to the public. The City is committed to serving local communities’ needs into the future and continues to program our spaces accordingly.

Although City College of San Francisco and the San Francisco Unified District do not fall within the City’s administrative purview, descriptions of their capital priorities are included here to provide a comprehensive look at the infrastructure needs in this Service Area. San Francisco voters approved an $845 million bond for CCSF in 2020, and SFUSD is planning for a 2022 G.O. Bond ballot measure.

back to top