State Parks Measure Certified for November Ballot

On the June ballot, we really had just one measure to be really excited about — Prop 15 and the fight for fair elections.  While that went down, it clearly was in a tough fight in a low Dem turnout election.  November, that will be a different situation.  In November, the governorship will be up for grabs, and there will be several turnout operations. The marijuana measure is already on the ballot, but now add the state parks measure to that:

Secretary of State Debra Bowen  announced today that proponents of the “State Parks  and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act” were projected to have submitted enough valid voter signatures to qualify.

The measure, backed by the California State Parks Foundation, would enact a $18 vehicle registration fee to fund state parks. In return, California motorists subject to the fee would get free admission to the parks. Proponents turned in more than 760,000 signatures in hopes of hitting the roughly 434,000 needed to make it on the ballot. (SacBee)

John Laird had proposed a similar measure back in 2008, but in this Legislature, anything mentioning additional revenue is pretty much DOA.  However, this measure could bring some broad appeal from interesting communities. Sportsman and fisherman would probably be interested, and it could offer something tangible for the voters.

I actually already pay for this service.  I bought the Golden Poppy Pass for $90 a while back, and it lets me park at most state parks in the state.  Quite a deal.

But ultimately, we need sustainable sources of revenue, and this will be one way to bring the parks a measure of security.

Of course there are always issues with tying our revenues to specific budget items, but considering the sad shape of the parks, with closures and reduced hours, this is what it has come to. At the very least, it is a good thing to let voters voice support for revenue.

2 thoughts on “State Parks Measure Certified for November Ballot”

  1. A key feature of this initiative is that it takes the parks out of the annual state budget.  The $18 fee (giving CA vehicles exemption from entrance fees) goes into a trust fund from which the parks are maintained.  

    Every year, the parks have deteriorated.  To quote from the Yes for State Parks web site:

    California’s parks, once considered the best in the nation, are falling apart because of chronic underfunding. Roofs and sewage systems leak, restrooms are not cleaned regularly, bridges have collapsed, trails are washed out, campgrounds and visitor centers are shuttered and buildings and structures throughout the system are badly deteriorated.

    With no reliable source of funding, the state parks have accumulated a backlog of more than $1 billion in maintenance and repairs.

    Thousands of scenic acres are closed to the public because of reductions in park rangers, and crime has more than doubled. Destruction and vandalism of the parks themselves has grown fourfold, and beachgoers are often unprotected because of decreases in lifeguards.

    And what a great list of organizations supporting it.  Not only the expected environmental, parks, ocean, and outdoor groups, as well as outdoor oriented businesses, but also groups like the California Travel Industry Association, California Lodging Industry Association, Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce, Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau, Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, safety groups like California Fish and Game Wardens’ Association and California State Park Rangers Association, plus groups as diverse as the California Federation of Teachers and Boy Scouts of America.

    Hopefully, we can start turning the parks around for the next generation to enjoy.  

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