California’s state parks need a lot more money. Paul Rogers of the Mercury News summarizes the pluses and minuses of several key strategies. One of my copy desk cronies wrote this gem of a headline: How would you feel about ‘Budweiser Beach’? Rogers identifies five scenarios:
Pluses: Users — who generate costs — help defray them. Alternative to unpopular taxes.
Minuses: Prices the poor out of their parks, assets that benefit the whole state even if everybody doesn’t use them.
Pluses: Brands can put their names on branded activities — so, perhaps, an REI trail might encourage REI consumers to hike on it. Non-Californians let Californians off the hook financially.
Minuses: Aesthetically offensive, politically poisonous. Funding susceptible to corporations’ bottom-line pressures.
Pluses: Dedicated income stream protects parks from economic ups and downs. Reliable revenue ensures better upkeep, which attracts more people. Holds user fees down.
Minuses: Prop. 13 makes it almost impossible to create new taxes, even for things the state’s populace likes, like state parks. Creating a tax for parks makes every other interest group think they oughta have their own tax too.
Pluses: A large enough endowment generates interest payments that can pay for park operations and maintenance. Limits user fees.
Minuses: Endowment has to be huge, like a billion dollars, to generate enough income. Education interests will demand that schools get full funding before such largess is given to parks.
Plus: Free labor from true believers.
Minus: Free labor from true believers.
All of these factors add up to the situation we’re in now: Over a billion dollars worth of maintenance put off till another time. Meanwhile, parks become embarrassingly tattered and people have an excuse to take their activities elsewhere.
- Report on California’s crumbling state parks
- Governor dumps plan to close 48 state parks
- California parks department’s defense of closing 48 parks
- California state parks: more thoughts on keeping them open
- What are we going to do to save our state parks?
- California State Parks Foundation
- Pine Ridge Association
- Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
- Angel Island Association
- Sierra State Park Foundation