California has any number of expensive hotels and resorts along its spectacular coastline, private accommodations available to those who can afford them. It doesn't need another one at Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County. That's public land, for the public's use.
The newly appointed state parks director toured Crystal Cove last week, reviewed plans for development and said he saw some unspecified "conflicts." One past conflict was the way the Wilson administration conducted the public's business in secret. The state negotiated a 60-year lease for a private firm to develop and operate a $23-million resort on part of the property but did not announce the deal until it was done.
The Davis administration needs to look hard at the contract signed two years ago and see to it that all the state's residents and visitors have as much access as possible to the site.
The state's Parks and Recreation Commission took undeserved blows in the fiscal crisis of the 1980s. Funds lost then should be restored now. That's preferable to trying to make the state parks fiscally self-sufficient.
Private leaseholders have kept cottages at Crystal Cove for decades, and the part to be developed accounts for only about 30 of the most desirable acres of nearly 3,000 the state bought 10 years ago. The developer who would be the new leaseholder says rundown cottages will be renovated and in the end about 75 will be available to rent. But some might cost $400 a night, off-limits to all but the rich. And in the absence of development, the cottage properties would return to the state as their current leases expired.
Although the Crystal Cove development contract could bring California a million dollars a year, it would restrict public access and reserve coastal treasures for those who can pay the most. Public parks should be funded like other necessities, not forced to sink or swim.
L.A. Times April 6, '99: "Budget Looks far Brighter Than Expected" Excerpts:
"The final numbers will not be known until May, when tax collectors total the income taxes that Californians pay by April 15. But every indication is that there will be more than enough money to keep Sacramento green."
"But overall, the Senate Budget Committee estimates, all tax collections are running about $75 million above projections."
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