California State Parks Fee Defeated Handily

I want to point out I was on the wrong side of an issue the last election, and am glad the position I advocated lost. Proposition 21 lost badly. It was the $18 tack-on fee to vehicle registration that would go for our wonderful State Parks. If it passed, California auto registration would increase by $18, but day use fees to enter State Parks, Beaches, Historic Parks and day hiking areas would be waived. The State Parks would have a steady source of funding for upkeep and staffing, as well.

There’s a major problem with such a fee which everybody would have to pay in order to legally operate their car.

For those well off, $18 means a lunch at the favorite eatery. For someone living on low income, $18 means a week of groceries. That’s why such fees are known as “regressive taxation.”

We cannot control the cost of goods – a pack of gum costs the same for a kid walking into the 7-11 in South Central LA as it is for the lawyer on a whim hitting the candy machine in the lobby. But that’s life, and life is unfair. But taxes, or fees, can be made fair. There’s nothing saying you have to tax everyone the same. In fact, doing so is patently wrong. The State Parks fee was an unfair tax. Think about it. A week of groceries to someone poor or just a restaurant lunch for someone more well-off. I don’t mind costing somebody a fajita plate with a Sierra Nevada Pale, but I do mind costing someone a whole week of food.

Another proposition, Prop 26, also passed. It says for from now on, no “fee” can be levied without 2/3 approval from the voters. I also voted no on that, but maybe I’m glad it passed. Fees are regressive taxation.

You can still get an annual pass to the state parks that charge “day use” fees (usually $5 a day). They are pricey! The $90 basic pass that lets you into most areas, but “high impact” places, like Huntington or Pismo, you’ll need to upgrade to the $125 a year deluxe-type pass.

As deluxe as it may be, the delux is no good at Sno-Parks (snowmobile) and OHV (off-highway vehicle) parks. The OHV pass is $50. The sno-pass is $25. If you want a pass that gets you into everything, no luck.

But if YOU ARE A VETERAN, first, thank you for your service, and 2nd, YOU GET A LIFETIME PASS TO EVERY State Park for FREE. I like that. Seniors and handicapped can buy a very cheap pass that gets you into everything.

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