Passage of Proposition 21 is crucial

October 30, 2010


Opponents of Proposition 21 are trying to mislead citizens of California.

The initiative, designed to protect funding for our state parks system, was put on the ballot by citizens fed up with Sacramento, not politicians, and the money can’t — I repeat, CAN’T —  be borrowed from or stolen by politicians.

The money from Proposition 21 goes into a Trust Fund overseen by a citizens committee for the sole purpose of State Parks and Wildlife Conservation.  That’s the way it is. Period.

Even if a person never uses their free State Park Access Pass, every person benefits from Prop 21: We benefit from the huge economic engine State Parks provides our local economy, $104 million every year in tourist spending outside our local parks, and $4 billion statewide.  We benefit from clean air, clean water and protection of pristine natural areas and cultural treasures.

Proposition 21 calls for a simple fee increase of $18 per registered vehicle. $18 doesn’t buy a pizza, doesn’t pay for a movie date, but your $18 will secure the future of State Parks for our generation and future generations.

I have talked to many people on limited incomes, and their support for Proposition 21 is overwhelming. Children spend on average 14 hours per week in front of some type of screen, and only 30 minutes outdoors.

Childhood obesity is an epidemic. Perhaps if we turned off the screens and took our children to our State Parks, something wonderful would happen, the next generation would connect with nature, their history as Californians, and their health.

Vote on Tuesday. And please vote Yes on Proposition 21.

Mary Golden is the chair of the Yes on 21 campaign for San Luis Obispo County.

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The management of the State Parks needs to have a total review of their business plan. They made a large mistake last year when they raised the rates in the parks to increase revenues. Instead of increasing income they over priced their “product” and now the parks are almost empty even on peak holiday weekends. If the rates were reduced dramatically the parks would have an upturn in paying users. The way that it is run now there is not enough income to pay the costs of operation. Further there are too many new trucks that seemed to be driving around. There needs to be an examination of outsourcing of the maintenance and landscaping. The empty parks are causing a decrease to the visitors to the local Cities where the parks are located. These Cities provide the emergency and police services but because of the major reduction in visitors there is a reduction in money spent in the cities and therefore a reduction in taxes with which to pay for these services. The Parks should be privatized

I live near Montana de oro, all I see are empty park trucks driving around Los Osos, and by empty I mean the paint in the beds aren’t even scratched. I rarely see any “work ” being done ever in the park. What work is to be done when we’re talking about keeping an environment natural anyway?? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people telling their kids to get a job in Park & Rec, because you get to hang around the parks doing nothing until retirement. Park & a joke, I remember when living in So. Cal. how they paved over natural turf to create pay parking after illegally closing parking along Hwy. 1. That was challaenged and the roadside parking re-opened only to leave the destroyed natural turf @ the the beach devoid of cars. Sell the trucks, hire private landscapers to trim the roadsides and let the Sheriff (who has a sub-station 4 min. from the Park) handle any problems that arise.

Support of state parks should come from every man, woman and child in the state. People with big families (5-6 kids) should pay more (including welfare recipients) and single folks like myself should pay less.

If it’s to be a “user” fee, then the more ”users” a family has the more they should pay.

It is inherently unfair to charge a single person the same amount as a family of 4, 5, 6 or more.

And what about people who don’t own cars, and don’t pay registration fees? Do they get to use the parks free? People who ride horses into parks or bikes don’t pay anything but they still use the same roads and facilities as someone who drives in.

And if someone’s registration expires, are they forbidden from visiting the parks?

And since there are an unbelievable number of visitors to this state every year from all over the world, the state parks will STILL have entrance kiosks and charge day use fees.

I believe the state government is too big and is unsustainable and it MUST shrink. And the surest way to do that is to starve it of its lifeblood — tax monies.

I agree state parks are a treasure that needs to be protected. I’m NOT sure Prop 21 is the way to do it. This state has a long history of passing special taxes or fees that are completely disconnected from the services they are supposed to support and then taking the money for the general fund whenever the budget gets out of whack.

Example is the Lottery. Voters were told a portion of the Lottery money would “supplement” education in the state and the first thing Gov. Deukmejian did was reduce school funding by the same amount as the Lottery put in. It’s called “3-card Monty.”

Sacramento is totally untrustworthy and that’s why I voted NO on Prop 21.

They can call it a “fee”, but if you have no choice but to spend your money on it; then it is a “TAX”.

California needs another tax about like Custer needed 10 more Indians. Get a clue people, America is about choices. Forcing me to pay for another tax is flat out un-American.

Like many of you, I agree that adding a non transportation fee to vehicle licensing may not seem like the right thing to do.

However, I support Proposition 21.

State parks is the crown jewel of California public lands and treated by the state politicians and money brokers as the forgotten illegitimate child. There are many new state parks that have never opened to the public because of no funding. Many of these acquired during the financial boom years through donations, bonds, grants, and private contributions. Even during the boom years these parks could not be opened to the public and remain closed due to lack of funding to maintain and operate these never opened new parks.

Existing state parks have hundreds of millions in deferred maintenance with very little hope of every securing the funding to catch up. Park superintendents are forced to chose which infrastructure, facilities, and amenities will be allowed to deteriorate and eventually closed for safety & liability concerns before eventually spending what money is available for demolition and removal of park assets.

Many park roads are allowed to deteriorate into trails or closed to access because of the lack of maintenance. In many cases eliminating access to those not in excellent physical condition and limiting access to some of the state parks amazing landmarks and scenic areas.

Public safety is a big issues in state parks and many state parks lack any rangers at all and all are servilely understaffed.

As a former state park volunteer at the Oceano Dunes SVRA & Pismo State Beach. I have witnessed our parks first hand falling apart and I have seen how the maintenance workers really do try their best to maintain a loosing battle against deterioration and time.

Yes, there are environmental issues that restrict public access to some areas both permanently and seasonally. Many that I do not agree with and adequate funding can help resolve most of these issues.

Take a close look at out local state parks. Many of you will noticed trails, bridges, roads, restrooms, closed, in deterioration, or missing.

Please Help Restore Our Parks, Your Parks.

Vote Yes on Proposition 21

State legislators traditionally target public safety, fish & game, and state parks to “sell” to public sympathy when money is tight. They will pressure a particular state agency to cut costs to the point that state fire stations and parks must be placed on the chopping block. They know that the public believes in and support these “essential services” and will not let them go away. This is precisely what is happening with this proposition. Although the money from this proposition may not be available to the legislature, this will not be the sole funding source for state parks. So, as they did with Prop 172 monies intended for public safety, they can simply reduce General Fund dollars and replace them with Prop 21 dollars so that the net budget remains essentially unchanged. If the legislature and Department of Finance really want to, they will find a way around it. And, if Prop 21 passes, what’s next? Added charges for CHP, CalTrans, and Calfire? This is indeed a very slippery slope and we should not go there in the first place.


Does anyone think that the parks are the key to California’s recovery? All they are trying to do is protect their jobs… such “altruism.”

Thank you Mary for spending your time both on the initiative and in submitting this piece.

The parks are an asset to all Californians and the funding for them has dropped beyond sustainability. In disrepair the parks will end up costing more. One example would be the affects of uncontrolled fires which are likely (Encroachment in closed parks etc.. ) It is an easy way to not make Global warming worse, and all other reasons stated. There is a nexus between trees GHG’s and Vehicle miles. Given that Californians get to vote through a democratic process the issue as to this being a New tax is moot. It’s a question of-Is it worth 18 dollars? (I own 3 vehicles BTW and they will be even less affordable) because the benefits are there and the monies are not coming otherwise.

I get your points racket. But Trees fix Carbon dioxide (Sequester it) and produce oxygen, while cars do the reverse. Its polluters versus cleaners (Smog reducers), not based on appreciation. Frankly, I don’t see the obesity nexus as all that convincing. The parks are good for you whether you visit them or not.

I just read your second post racket. I think you are a concerned citizen, thanks for clarifying. I agree with the “everybody benefits everybody pays” part, but it’s not like the state has a vast population of full time pedestrians hiking from park to park. The fee is a mechanism that works better,. isolates the money. I hope you see the Car-tree connection.

I don’t see the nexus between State Parks and vehicle licensing.

I could conceivably support an additional tax on licensing that funded some sort of autocentric public good (roads, smog reduction, more refineries, whatever).

And I could conceivably support some sort of additional tax on something that burdened State Park users, or at least State Park appreciators.

But it’s a slippery slope to tax one group (drivers) to pay for the wants of another group (park appreciators).

I say vote No on 21, and I am a park user and a park appreciator. More importantly, I believe in fairness.

What I am trying to say is that since State Parks are good for all of us, all of us ought to be taxed for their upkeep. It’s unfair to target an unrelated group to pay for our pet project, regardless of how noble it is.

(Sorry to respond to my own post — that is kind of the mark of a narcissistic doofus.)

I agree, there is no consistent nexus. Those with multiple vehicles pay more, regardless of parks use.

Another example: Over the years, dog owners have been gradually excluded from park usage. Let the park users pay an entrance fee.