Author Topic: Influenced by Scandal, State Parks Legislation Lands on Governor's Desk  (Read 1249 times)

Offline Peter Vahry

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September 4, 2012, 5:59 pm • Posted by Rachael Myrow   

Now that we're all back from Labor Day weekend and nursing sunburns, this seems like a good time to review two key bills related to the future of state parks: AB 1589 and AB 1478.

Bear in mind everything parks-related moving through Sacramento now references the summer scandal that exploded when the Sacramento Bee reported that the Parks Department kept millions of dollars off the books when they filed annual reports with the Department of Finance, giving the impression  a big deficit existed when that was not actually the case. Parks director Ruth Coleman resigned as a result of the scandal.

AB 1589, by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), requires that the Department of Parks & Recreation develop an "action plan" for generating revenue, as well as for collecting unpaid user fees at state parks. A lot of people are anticipating, to offer one example, a special-interest license plate.

AB 1589 also allows taxpayers to redirect portions of their tax refunds to the California State Parks Protection Fund in exchange for an annual state park day-use access pass. AB 1478, by Bob Bloomenfield (D-Woodland Hills) appropriates $10 million from the fund for park maintenance projects and $10 million as matching funds for private grants for parks.

AB 1478 is the more interesting bill for Bob Patrie of the Coe Park Preservation Fund. You may recall that organization wrangled a whopping $1 million of private money to keep their beloved local park open another three years.

“AB1478 directly impacts our relationship with the DPR,” Patrie writes. He notes that half of the unreported $20.5 million in the State Parks and Recreation Fund will go towards the $1 billion deferred maintenance backlog,  "rather than being entirely spent on keeping the threatened 70 parks open - a bad idea. The smell of money in the water.”

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