State Park Cuts – Logic = Stoopit

Last week, the State Park system announced that they would need more time to decide which parks would be closing.  The list had previously been expected around Labor Day, but the delays keep mounting.  The reason for the delays? The closures are flat out stupid.

And this stupidity is borne out by a leaked report from within the administration and the parks system showing that the closures would end up saving $14 million by, wait for it, spending $24 million. Yes, you read that right, the closures could end up being a net expenditure.

It is likely that state parks would be liable for breach of contract” with the 188 agreements the state has signed with private companies that provide concession services, from restaurants to boat rentals to gift shops in parks, the memo concluded. Those concessions generated $89 million in gross sales last year.

Further, if people enter closed parks and are injured or start fires, the state “can be held responsible for dangerous conditions,” the attorneys added, even if the parkgoers were trespassing. (SJ Merc 9/17/09)

The memo is available on the website of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.  You can grab a press release and the full memo here, the website is a bit tough to navigate. Esssentially the memo, which was originally intended for state parks director Ruth Coleman and other department managers, argues that the costs and risks of closing the parks outweighs any potential benefits.

To the public, the State Parks Commission has been blaming the delay of the closure list on the fact that the parks are broken up by districts, and there was some intense calculations to figure that out.  Now, I don’t blame the folks of the parks system for these problems, they are just trying to do the best they can given the hand they were dealt. However, these closures are both impractical, and in a tightening economy, a poor economic decision.

Rumors abound of a potential ballot measure for fall 2010.  Such a measure would need to be submitted very, very soon in order to get the full allottment of time to gather signatures, but there is a pretty good guide for the measure, as it has already been in bill form a couple of times before gubernatorial vetoes.   Essentially, the measure would request a $10 increase in the vehicle license fee in exchange for free access to state parks.  Former Assemblyman (and all-around good guy) John Laird was (and is) a staunch supporter of this plan, originally proposing it last year.

Seems like a great deal to me. The closures simply do not make sense.

3 thoughts on “State Park Cuts – Logic = Stoopit”

  1. The leaked report is about the possibility of concessionaires suing for breach of contract.  But many state parks sit on land that was donated to the state for the purpose of opening the land to the public.  Wouldn’t the state be in breach of all those contracts?  Maybe heirs could sue to get the land bank.

  2. When Ronald Reagan attempted to sell off the Yountville Veteran’s Home – a truly beautifull residence – he found out that the Yount Family had a reversionary clause that said in effect that if the grounds ceased to be used as a home for old soldiers, it reverts automatically to the Yount family.  It is not and was not State property -as many state parks may also be.

    That many Republicans are now trying to ensure no parks close in their Districts despite their votes for such closure should be wired around their necks like an egg-suck dog and hound them out of office.

    I was at the Yountville Veteran’s Home today and spoke to painters, an electrician and a groundskeeper.  They are filled with dispair for the condition of the Home and the lack of adequate staffing to maintain the Home and are dealing personally with the pay cuts and furloughs.  Despite the absolute all-out demonization of state workers by the Governor and the willing press they have nothing but absolute respect for the Home Members and are silent about their personal struggles so that the Home Members are not burdened with their hardships.  If only the publid knew what is being done in order to keep the wealthy and the corporations from paying their fair share.

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