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North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense

Appropriate Incentives For Parks
by Tomas DiFiore
Monday Apr 16th, 2012 5:41 AM
Private Concession Operated Parks pay a penny on the dollar for ALL CARD FEES, the campsite reservation, purchases in onsite stores, food, fuel, bait, anything that is sold and a credit card is used - but particularly the campsite fees. And the State of California can’t figure out how to take the tickets and collect the fees. (Reservation and cancellation fees would supply millions of dollars annually to fund local non-profits working to keep parks open).
Appropriate Incentives For State Parks
The Governor’s 2012-2013 budget requests authority to continuously appropriate $15.3 million annually in fee revenues to parks, (to) incentivize districts to implement new projects that could increase the number of paying visitors. DPR would have the authority to spend up to $15.3 million of newly generated revenue in the year it is generated, instead of waiting for the Legislature to appropriate the funds the following year. But the March 2, 2012 LAO report Strategies to Maintain California's Park System (PDF) states ”We are concerned that this proposal limits the Legislature’s authority and would not result in the stated goal of incentivizing districts to generate revenue”

Save Our State Parks
With over 70 million visits annually, California’s state parks are an important economic engine to the local communities in which they are located, generating over $4 billion in economic activity across the state. Every $1 invested in the state park system returns $2.35 to the state’s General Fund, largely in the form of economic activity in local economies.

Visitor figures in Oct 2009 Increased Travel to State Parks
California State Parks is the second largest park system in the country (second only to the national park system), and receives an average of 74 million visitors a year. The LAO report only considers paid attendance figures, steady at 25 million a year:

The Legislative Analyst Office concludes: Reduce The Size Of The Park System – Expand Concessions

Remember just 10 years ago, in 2002, DPR reported that for every $1 spent by the general fund returns $2.34 in tax revenue. The figure represents both direct and secondary effects, from the sales and personal tax generated from visitor expenditures. The total figure of tax generated was then divided by the allocation of general fund contribution. Data from the 2007-2009 Visitor Survey Report commissioned by California DPR, showed that state parks generate considerable economic activity. Visitors spend on average $80.85 per visit, $31.32 within a 25 mile radius of the park and $49.53 outside the 25 miles radius.

Steadfastly, the LAO cites a Lessons Learned study from Texas. According to park staff in Texas, although the program ultimately failed, key pieces were beneficial. These included incentivizing park superintendents to try new operations and programs. Texas staff believes that a different allocation of new revenue might have made a difference in the program’s success.”

Isn't that what Governor Brown is proposing in his $15.3M budget trailer?

In ten years, how did we get to a situation where the Legislative Analyst Office would reject
a plan to Authorize Continuous Appropriation to Incentivize Districts to Generate Revenues!
Wow! $15M would go so far. Start with the Parks on the closure list. Doing some math, pick a park, like Standish Hickey, or Annadel, I'll use Standish-Hickey for now.

$15.3M minus $57K to help run one park, that still leaves over $14.5M for the other Parks. Last year, Standish-Hickey made $157,000 in revenues but the cost of running the park came to $204,000.

Support is needed for North Coast Assemblymembers Jared Huffman and Wesley Chesbro, together with Senator Noreen Evans as they are push urgency Bills through the Legislature. View the 03212012 E Town Hall Senator Noreen Evans, Caryl Hart (Director Sonoma County Regional Parks and State Parks Commissioner), along with Carolyne Cathey (Director MAPA)

AB1589 California State Parks Stewardship Act of 2012 is ground-breaking legislation that will reform how California funds and manages its state parks," Chesbro said. AB1589 Encourages formation of a state compact that guarantees an ongoing level of state funding for operations and maintenance of state parks. This Bill has been rapidly gaining signatures and has strong support, passing committee reviews with full support, and goes before the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation April 16th.

AB1589 creates a State Park Enterprise Fund to be used for construction and installation of modern revenue and fee collection equipment and technologies to increase park visitation and revenues. Both California and Arizona are moving urgency Bills through respective Legislatures.

Back on January 19th Senator Noreen Evans' Bill SB974 caused State Public Works Board to pull a controversial parks item from its agenda and is a bill that would require the California Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) to conduct a formal review of park closures. Once the door is opened to privatization, it is hard to reverse the trend.

May 1, 2012
Dangerous Precedent
California State Parks (CSP) has issued a new request for proposals (RFP) seeking a five-year concession contract (or contracts) to operate campground and day use recreational areas at five park units in the Central Valley (Turlock Lake SRA, McConnell SRA, George J. Hatfield SRA, Woodson Bridge SRA, and Brannan Island SRA). This is the first serious and robust parks PPP procurement of its kind at the state level. The RFP is here , and CSP’s sample contract is here. Bidder responses are due on May 1. This step may help give increased impetus to private operations proposals in other states. This RFP must be stopped!

And according to the AVA, STATE PARKS recently ran a legal advertisement in the Ukiah Daily Journal that says the state is “accepting proposals for five year contracts to maintain and operate up to three state parks scheduled for closure in Mendocino County.”

THE THREE PARKS? Hendy Woods, Philo; Russian Gulch, Mendocino; and Westport.

Private Concession Operated Parks pay a penny on the dollar for ALL CARD FEES, the campsite reservation, purchases in onsite stores, food, fuel, bait, anything that is sold and a credit card is used - but particularly the campsite fees. And the State of California can’t figure out how to take the tickets and collect the fees. (Reservation and cancellation fees would supply millions annually to fund local non-profits working to keep parks open).

Currently these fees subsidize the privatization of park management bid contracts by ReserveAmerica, also known as Recreation dot gov, the National Recreation Resource Syndicate (NRRS), and Recreation Resource Management - parkprivatization dot com. These fees subsidize a scapegoat attitude toward Public Employees Unions as if they were the problem. People forget that corporations are the reason the State is broke. Two of these related corporations were MAXXAM and ENRON.

This year, events in Arizona and California have been nearly identical for the first 3 months.
California AB1589_Arizona HB2362: Two States, Two Bills To Save Parks

Jan 17, 2012-PHOENIX - Arizona State Parks would be able to protect the revenue it raises.
Mar 2, 2012-House Bill 2362 - A bill that would protect Arizona State Parks from legislative sweeps of its gate and concession revenue won preliminary House approval this week.
Mar 27, 2012-Bill to protect state parks from budget sweeps wins approval PHOENIX - A bill that would protect Arizona State Parks' revenue from any further legislative sweeps and install modern revenue and fee collection equipment and technologies, is on its way to Gov. Jan Brewer's desk Monday after winning approval from the Senate. (both houses – full support)

http://www.azgovernor.gov/Newsroom/Gov_PR.asp
Governor's staff has been working with the Parks Dept and the Bills Sponsor, Rep Karen Fann developing stronger language and better solutions for fulfilling land usage agreements and financial issues. First they are proposing language that ensures monies will not be appropriated in a manner that is inconsistent with the restrictions in a deed or lease to a property. Second, they have developed language that will address another issue that was discovered recently, how the proceeds from sales by Parks can be retained in the Park's system. The Governor looks forward to strengthening the language in the legislation. Matthew Benson, Governor Brewer's spokesman, said the governor wants to see the bill reworked and sent back to her "as quickly as possible."

Close the door on Privatization.
Tomas DiFiore