Proposition 21 seeks to raise money for California’s state park system by adding an $18 surcharge to the license fee for each private automobile in the state. Day-use charges at any and all of California’s state parks would then be waived for persons in cars bearing licence tags that show payment of the additional $18.
Such a bargain! It now costs $90 or $125 to get an annual pass for day use of the state parks other than the costlier ones where off-road vehicle recreation is permitted. Look at it another way. Admission to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook right here in Culver City — see http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22790 — is currently priced at $6. Three drives up there would defray the higher license fee, and an additional trip to Malibu Creek or Lake Perris would be like FREE.
Under Prop 21, our $18 surchanges would go into a new State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund. Looking at a title so reminiscent of the Transportation Trust Fund, which figures so prominently in Prop 22, may be one’s first inkling that Prop 21 is not as simple as it may seem. Similarly, knowing that State Park funding now comes half from the General Fund and half from admission fees may also raise the specter of budget deals.
Vehicle license fees have a turbulent history in California. Prop 21 may or may not be a new and wholesome chapter. It’s up to you!