On Tuesday, voters rejected Prop. 21, the ballot measure that would have added $18 to most vehicle registrations and allocated that money to support California’s state parks.
And not only did the voters of California nix Prop 21, they did so by a healthy margin—with 58 percent voting NO.
So what does that mean? Nobody feels they can afford the extra 18 bucks in this economy—parks or no parks? Californians suddenly don’t care about their parks?
And whatever it meant, what can we do to preserve the health of our state’s irreplaceable wildlands?
Civil rights lawyer, Robert Garcia, head of the City Project, answers the first question with a resounding no. Garcia points out that several times over the last ten years, even in the state’s poorer communities, “voters of color and low income voters have voted to tax themselves to create parks and recreation that meet the needs of all the people..”
The “no” on 21 reflects voter rejection of “ballot box budgeting” — and the profound need for economic stimulus programs to create jobs and infrastructure for all. Parks and recreation programs must create local green jobs, and improve quality of life for all.
Okay, fine. But how do we do that?
Garcia and some of his partner groups say they have a plan that Garcia insists can help save the parks, expand park access, AND help provide green jobs—all without putting more weight on the state budget. (For more details go here.)
Garcia and company hope to meet with Gov-elect Jerry Brown sooner rather than later about the matter.
Garcia also points out that park distribution is not exactly created equal in California. [See map.]
“There are few state parks where the need is greatest. State parks are overwhelmingly located in communities that are park rich and income rich. State parks are typically not located in park poor, income poor, communities of color, where unemployment rates are highest. Lack of places for physical activity contributes to disproportionately high obesity levels.
“…the Los Angeles region has only 5.5 acres of state parks per thousand residents, compared to 34.7 acres in the San Francisco region — almost seven times more. While Los Angeles has 49% of the state’s population, San Francisco has only 19%…”
At least 700 groups supported Prop 21 says Garcia, who is a practiced champ at alliance building. With this in mind, he hopes to enlist the help of of as many of those 700 as humanly possible to “expand access to and support for state parks.”
Me and my Topanga State Park jogging trails hope that it works.
PS: SPEAKING OF JERRY BROWN....the LA Times’ Culture Monster blog has a nice little story about the still controversial “official” portrait of Brown, painted during his first gubernatorial term, by artist Don Bachardy.
PPS: I LOVE that painting, damn it, despite what the art Philistines think. It’s way better than the preposterously stuffy portraits it used to hang beside before it got stuffed away in some back room.
Now it’ll get trotted out again, and a good thing that is.
AND SPEAKING OF JERRY AGAIN….CalBuzz has a very smart rundown listing “5 Key Reasons” Jerry won—among them, they said, was the fact that he made “an asset out of his Gandalfian presence in California politics.”
Gandalfian. Well put, CalBuzzers.