An $18 surcharge on vehicle licenses seems to us like a relatively painless way to ensure a decent level of funding for our state parks, many of which are in need of major repairs. It was disappointing, then, that only a single county supervisor —Bruce Gibson — voted to back Proposition 21, the state parks measure on the November ballot.
We just hope the other four supervisors weren’t motivated by fear of being branded as taxers-and-spenders. We raise that point because the reasons they did give for opposing the tax were on the flimsy side.
For example, Jim Patterson said that only 15 to 20 percent of Californians use state parks, and the rest of the population shouldn’t be penalized with an additional fee. Come on, Jim. Not all of us go to school either, but we pay taxes to support education because we know it’s in the best interests of society to have an educated population.
And even if 80 percent of folks don’t go to a park this year, they — or their kids or their grandkids — may want to go next year or the year after that. And wouldn’t it be nice to know that the parks will be up and running should they ever want to visit?
As to the argument that there’s not enough of a connection between car licenses and state parks — since when did there have to be a direct nexus between a tax and the item it supports? If that’s the case, sales taxes should be reserved solely for — what? — paving roads outside shopping centers?
Look, this isn’t an enormously burdensome tax. If it were, we would not support it. This is $18 per year, which is less than half a tank of gas — and that’s a small price to pay for keeping our parks in decent shape for future generations.
We toss Bruce Gibson a wildflower bouquet and a trailblazer’s merit badge for having the courage to break from the pack to support Proposition 21. For the other four, there’s a beehive of brickbats at the end of a long and weed-choked trail.
Kudos for committing to Dunes project
We’ve criticized the state for dragging its feet on developing a plan to reduce the amount of dust blowing off the Oceano Dunes off-road recreation area. In the interest of fairness, then, we want to commend State Parks for committing to getting a pilot project up and running by March 1. We’ll hold off on awarding a beach-grass bouquet, though, until we see some actual results.
Use knowledge to help, not complain
If ever someone should know the ins-and-outs of the political process, that someone should be Peg Pinard. She served on both the San Luis Obispo City Council and the county Board of Supervisors, and in 2004, she challenged Abel Maldonado for state Senate.
Over the years, she must have heard plenty of complaints from constituents who claimed they didn’t know about this or that action by the City Council or Board of Supervisors.
Ironically, it’s now Pinard making that claim. According to a Thursday column by Bill Morem, Pinard saying that she and others were left out of the loop when the city of SLO drafted a new historic preservation ordinance that affects owners of historic homes.
She acknowledges that her neighbors received postcards notifying them that the city was considering changes to current regulations, but they weren’t specific about what those changes would be. She also complains that residents didn’t have the opportunity to make “early and meaningful input.”
The city counters that there have been plenty of opportunities to provide input. It also points out that in addition to mailing out 700 postcards to affected property owners, information was provided on the city’s website. And for the record, The Tribune also wrote about the proposed changes multiple times.
Instead of carping about lack of notification, it seems to us that Pinard could have used her years of political savvy to guide her neighbors through the public hearing process, to ensure their voices were heard early and often.
By the way, it’s still not too late. The proposed ordinance is on the City Council’s Sept. 21 agenda.
A Peg-o’-my-heart bouquet to Pinard if she stops her bellyaching long enough to help spread the word.