SAVE CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS – A LEGACY ASSET ISSUE WITH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
This post is inspired by an excerpt from a post from the National Trust for Historic Preservation titled “In California, ‘Fantastic’ State Parks News Doesn’t Hold Up to Scrutiny” written by Anthony Veerkamp @
Last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a press release concerning the fate of California’s state parks. Judging by most of the media coverage that ensued, you’d think that parks advocates had scored a major victory.
Alas, what the Governor called “fantastic news for all Californians” turns out on closer reading to be just a fantasy….By redefining what it means to close a park, it turns out that closures can be avoided. This game of semantics may have bought the Governor a couple days of positive media, but did nothing to address the $14.2 million hole in this year’s parks budget. In fact, the Governor’s plan bears out what the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been saying all along: that closing parks doesn’t really save money. In fact, all of the contemplated closures—err, service cuts—are projected to save just $2.1 million. The real savings are found the old fashioned way: $12.1 million is saved by reducing ongoing maintenance and eliminating all major equipment purchases.
Which takes us back to the crux of the matter. When the National Trust included California State Parks on our 2008 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, we highlighted years of chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance as the primary threat to the vast array of historic and cultural resources in California’s state park system. The Governor’s “budget solution” is just the latest chapter in a tragic saga of running the country’s best state parks system into the ground.
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The underfunding, and eroding of our state parks, is the issue that exists with many of our legacy assets. There has got to be another way… Many city and state historic properties sit in blighted condition.
The state of California could generate revenue for the parks if they sold off some of their blighted legacy assets to individuals and corporations that would care for the properties. Monies raised from property sales and annual taxes could go toward maintaining our parks.