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California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

Evans Applauds State Parks Removal of Privatization From Consideration
by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Feb 1st, 2012 3:31 PM
The Public Works Board at a special meeting today acknowledged that full park privatization was not under consideration. However, the Board did agree to approve the circulation of RFP’s for concessions at 11 state parks slated for closure.

Department Will Still Issue RFP’s For Concessions At 11 State Parks

Senator Noreen (D-Santa Rosa) Evans on February 1 applauded the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) decision not to consider contracts with for-profit businesses to privatize State Parks, but was disappointed with a state board’s vote to allow DPR to issue Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) for concessions which would conflict with non-profits’ attempts to keep parks open.

“DPW ‘clarified’ that they do not intend to privatize parks intended for closure – a change of policy that I called for and applaud,” said Senator Evans. “Any policy that provides a pathway for a park or a bundle of parks slated for closure to be completely privatized needs to be thoroughly examined by both the public and legislature. This potential giveaway has been stopped for now.”

The Public Works Board at a special meeting today acknowledged that full park privatization was not under consideration. However, the Board did agree to approve the circulation of RFP’s for concessions at 11 state parks slated for closure.

Six of those parks are in Senator Evans’ 2nd District (Hendy Woods SP, Russian Gulch SP, Standish-Hickey SRA, Westport-Union Landing SP, Austin Creek SRA and Sugarloaf Ridge SP). Local non-profits are currently in negotiations with DPR for agreements to operate these State Parks.

In a statement presented today to the Public Works Board, Evans warned that competing concession could drive away non-profits, because they would drain the revenues the non-profits would need to operate the parks. DPR has responded that concessionaires and non-profits could work together on agreements.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test that somehow non-profits will be able to work with concessionaires who want to carve out the most profitable concessions. Concessionaires will leave valueless or low generating revenue sources to non-profits who need these same sources to operate the parks,” said Evans.

The Public Works Board did agree to review all concession agreements before they are signed; while DPR stated the Department would sign completed operating agreements if they are ready, rather than waiting for responses from the RFPs.

“These are good steps, but they still do not resolve the revenue issues that the RFPs raise,” said Evans.

Evans urged constituents to attend 5 public meetings planned by DPR to discuss both operating agreements and concessions. (Please see the DRP website for more information). She also urged DPR to expand its engagement with local non-profits to complete operating agreements before the July 1 closure date.

Evans has introduced a bill, SB 974, to formalize annual reviews of park closures and will be shortly introducing legislation to develop new revenue generating sources for State Parks.

“My preference is to find sustainable sources of long term funding to keep all of our parks open without privatizing our parks to any extent,” said Senator Evans.

State Senator Noreen Evans represents the Second Senatorial District, including all or portions of the Counties of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma. Senator Evans Chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Committee on Judiciary.

Contact: Teala Schaff, p. 916-651-4002, c. 916-541-5231