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L.A. City Panel Recommends To Not Support State Parks Ballot Initiative

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Climbing around the Rock Pool at Malibu Creek State Park | Photo by denisetaylor☼ via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Climbing around the Rock Pool at Malibu Creek State Park | Photo by denisetaylor☼ via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
A resolution to support a ballot initiative that would fully fund state parks, thus protecting them from budget raids that prompt closures, failed to garner support from a L.A. City Council committee (.pdf) yesterday afternoon. At issue for Councilmembers Dennis Zine and Tony Cardenas were the fees associated with the proposal.

If passed by voters next November, annual vehicle license fees would go up $18 statewide. "So if somebody has a 1980 dodge that they're barely keeping together and their fees right now are maybe 50, 60 bucks, all told, this would be $18 on top of that?" questioned a wary Cardenas. Yes, he was told by a city analyst, who read a staff report that recommended the resolution's approval. Exempt from fees would be larger commercial vehicles, mobile homes and permanent trailers.

Over the past two years, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to close state parks--last year saying he was ready to shut 80% of them down--as a budget-saving move. Seeking a "stable, reliable, and adequate funding source," advocates wrote a ballot initiative called the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010.

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"I think this crates a lot of problems for the people in California who are struggling to make ends meet," opined Zine. "I think this opens the door to just assessing more charges on people," he said, worried that other fees will be added in the future for other state needs, such as prisons.

The Act would raise around $500 million with 85% of it going towards state parks. The rest would be divvied up for wildlife refuges, ecological reserves, marine wildlife conservation, protection of coastal waters, grants and state conservancies.

"There's a lot attached to this," Zine noted. "If it was just the parks, maybe it wouldn't have to be $18."

The act would do away with parking fees at state parks for vehicles with a California license plate. Currently, parking at local beaches and parks can be almost as costly (.pdf). It's $15 at Doheny Beach in Orange County, $10 at Topanga and $12 at Malibu Creek, Will Rogers and Leo Carillo.

Despite losing in a 2-1 vote at committee level--Jan Perry was the sole supporter--the resolution, which was submitted by Paul Koretz, will still move forward to the full City Council for discussion. The initiative currently has an official supporter, but no opposition.

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