Proposition 21- Save the Parks! (Or a blood sucking politician will evict your granny)

by on October 6, 2010 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Election, Environment

election save park signOB Rag Fall 2010 Elections – Part 4

So it’s come down to this: either vote to add an $18 annual fee to your car registration or we’ll close the State of California’s 278 Parks. This reminds me of that old National Lampoon magazine that ran with the cover art of a gun pointing at a dog and the headline: “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog”.

elections lampoon dogCalifornians love their parks. The sprawling network of state parks cover 1.5 million acres and one-third of our coastline, preserving natural space, historical sites and offering residents a low-cost form of recreation. In recent years, the parks have suffered an ongoing succession of indignities, with 60 of them operating under severely curtailed hours and a $1.5 billion backlog of repairs waiting for better times that certainly don’t look they’re going to materialize anytime soon. With each annual budget crisis the threat of massive closures rears its ugly head, only to be beaten down with the legislative equivalent of bubble gum and bailing wire that keeps the parks teetering along, barely open.

With an estimated 80 million total visits to State parks annually, and a huge economic footprint—a recent study estimated that visitors spend an average of $57.63 in surrounding communities per visit—it’s no wonder that over four hundred organizations around the California have lined up in support of Proposition 21. Retired people, nurses, labor unions, chambers of commerce, city governments, park rangers, tree huggers and hunters have all lined up in support of the initiative. The campaign has attracted over $4 million in donations.

election poor Calif bear cartoonLining up against Proposition 21 are the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures, the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity, and Howard Jarvis, godfather of California’s Proposition 13. Their arguments call the annual fee a “car tax” and whine about the state’s legislators wanting to avoid the “hard work of cutting spending so that there is plenty of money in the state’s basic general operating fund to support popular amenities such as the state parks.” They have raised a whopping $25,000.

Two of California’s big city dailies (LA Tines, San Francisco Chronicle) have come out in opposition to the initiative, not because they oppose funding for the parks, but because this is a piecemeal solution. And there is an element of truth to that claim. But getting to a solution that allows the legislature to fund both education and state parks requires revisiting “the third rail” of California politics, Proposition 13. You see, while Proposition 13—in the public’s mind—protects granny’s $50,000 shack down by the beach from being taxed for the $1 million it’s now worth, it also protected the real estate belonging to big corporations around the State. That’s why Plaza Bonita, for instance, pays less in annual property taxes that a quarter acre lot in Chula Vista. That’s why Chase Bank got a sweetheart deal (no reassessments) when it acquired all Wamu’s properties. And why Disney still pays the same taxes on its properties that it did thirty years ago.

So any politician wanting to address the State’s perpetual budget shortfalls by righting this huge loophole risks being tarred with the “you hate grannies” brush. And if there’s one thing Californians love more that their State parks, it’s their grannies.

election state park sealNext to the Holy Grail of overtaxed grannies, juxtapose the contemporary mantra of “less taxes equals more jobs/companies are fleeing California because of high taxes” and you have a situation bound to scare the bejesus out of any elected official brave enough to even think about tax reform. Herein lays the dilemma of Proposition 21: vote to save the parks and you’re putting off the inevitable confrontations that are coming with the implosion of State government envisioned by Howard Jarvis. Vote against the parks and baby seals will die.

It’s your choice.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar annagrace October 6, 2010 at 11:44 am

You are correct in laying a great deal of the State’s economic quagmire at the feet of Prop 13, which really didn’t benefit granny, but kept the corporations- the wolf in granny clothes- from paying their fair share.

I’m voting for parks, granny, & seals. And yes, I am willing as a car owner to pay the price for that decision if it passes.


avatar Ernie McCray October 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

We are unfortunately, as Californian and Americans in a situation where we have to suck it up and pay for what we value because the fat cats and fat politicians sold us down the river – with popsicle sticks as paddles. Our so called services are dwindling like the glaciers (maybe a little faster). The fire department gets to our burning houses slower and more stations are slated for closing. Our schools suffer. Our camp grounds are becoming cluttered with rotting facilities. The rec centers’ hours are becoming almost non-existent. The libraries are closed when we most like to read. The military soaks up our taxes like a pile of expensive towels sopping up water from a leaking roof.
I sure hate paying taxes/fees that seem to be sucked into a black hole but it sure seems that We the People need to take care of this and then take control of who we send to Sacramento and D.C. and create the society we want – as opposed to “taking back control” as the tea party folks and the like like to say, since we’ve never been in control. I’ve always hated the thought that you can’t pay taxes at a higher rate to solve a problem then go back to less taxes. Why can’t we? It would seem to me that “We” could do anything “We” put our collective minds to. There are more of “Us” than “Them” and “They” have been doing it to us for centuries.
All this being said, “We” can’t let our parks and grannies and seals go down.


avatar Peyton Farquhar October 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I blame Prop 13 and all the morons who voted for the monosyllabic governor whose platform was easing up the VLF/registration to solicit votes. Funny how everyone forgets about that when talking about budgetary shortfalls and slashed services.


avatar dave rice October 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Think about how easy it would be to pass an amendment to Prop 13 to say it only covered residential buildings with 4 or fewer units, and only if the owner lived on the property. Then think about how much money could be raised if commercial properties were re-assessed every five years or so, and how this simple change would protect ol’ Grandma and only affect a small handful of land barons in any significant way. Finally, think about ALL THE JOBS THAT WOULD BE LOST IF SUCH A MEASURE WERE TO PASS, because absent any logical argument against a tax the conservatives start screaming that the rich are going to get mad and fire people if taxes go up and that appeasement is the best way to protect yourself.


avatar JPinSD October 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I haven’t read this prop yet. So, does this mean if the prop passes there will be no more fees for state parks??? I guess i will go read it now.


avatar JPinSD October 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Just read it…One of the things that bothers me is that the fee will be for each vehicle that you own. So, I need to pay for all 4 vehicles in my household? That’s not really fair..


avatar Sarah October 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Four vehicles, yeah, I can see your point.

Sell a couple…


avatar Christopher Grant Ward October 15, 2010 at 8:26 am

Here’s 21 more reasons to vote Yes on Prop 21 ::


avatar Chris November 4, 2010 at 9:38 am

Well, the angry white Calvinist conservatives are getting what they want: A complete destruction of modern American society. Yes, that is what they want, even though they will just say that the chaos they create is part of God’s will and is more sign that Jesus is returning soon. God. It’s November 4th. How, in the name of everything holy, did this proposition not pass? For the people who don’t want to pay the fee–assuming you are not going to attend state parks–it’s not going to affect you anyway. For those of you who voted no and think you are going to attend the parks, well, think again. Or, think about, ah, don’t think about it. Just pray and destroy government. Yes. Just keep voting for pukes like Mitch “Chin” McConnell and Eric “Doofus” Cantor. You’ve got your crappy fascism. Enjoy it while we all go up in flames.


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