February 24, 2005
By CHUCK DEVORE
Your editorial of Feb. 18 entitled "Plan hurts the public" misses the mark entirely.
My El Morro bills are entirely about money and nothing more.
When the Department of Parks and Recreation developed its plan for Crystal Cove 23 years ago, Jerry Brown was governor, we had 43 fewer parks with 300,000 fewer acres of parkland and a maintenance backlog 45 times smaller than we have today. The simple fact is there are park assets today that the public cannot enjoy for lack of maintenance money. So why are we now seeking to add park capacity that we cannot afford to maintain?
The parks department plans to spend more than $10 million of bond money to destroy El Morro Village, then it wants to spend millions more to build a lifeguard station. When completed, the department's plan would bring in $800,000 to $1.2 million in fees from parking, RVs and camping (a reduction from today's rental revenue), while also incurring added maintenance costs.
By comparison, the residents of El Morro, through their rents, generate a $1.2 million cash profit to the state (with another $1 million paid to maintain the village common area). My alternative plan increases the cash profit to the state to $3.2 million per year while delaying the final phase of the El Morro build-out until we can better afford it. This money can be taken in the form of a $50-million cash payment or as an annual revenue stream of $3.2 million for up to 30 years.
The money so generated may then be used to either pay down the state's huge deficit in one of the bills proposed or pay down the parks department's $466 million deferred maintenance backlog in the other. In addition, under my bills, the parks department would collect a fee for use of the 50-car parking lot at El Morro -- providing reliable public access close to the beach, while generating still more revenue for th e state parks system.
Consider this, if every state assembly member put forward a similar innovative plan to save the state money, we would generate an added $160 million per year in nontax revenue while preventing the issuance of $1.2 billion in bond money -- loans that have to be repaid from the general fund with principle and interest -- for a total benefit to the bottom line of about a quarter-billion dollars per year.
It is this sort of fiscal discipline and creativity we need to rescue California from our financial mess, and I am only too happy to have the 70th Assembly District do its part.
* CHUCK DEVORE is the assemblyman for the 70th state district, which includes LagunaBeach.
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