If newly elected Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is looking for new ideas and creative ways to represent his constituents, let's just say his most recent efforts have left us less than impressed.
DeVore, at the end of last week, announced that he and Republican Assembly Leader Kevin McCarthy were sponsoring a pair of bills that, if passed, would allow the residents of the El Morro Village trailer park to stay in their beachside homes for the next 30 years.
DeVore might look like a hero to some as he stops the state from evicting these residents from their homes.
Problem is, DeVore took the wrong side.
The residents of El Morro live on public lands owned by you, by us, by every last resident in the state of California, including DeVore.
These bills would hijack our public lands and in effect lock out those very same residents -- the public taxpayers -- from enjoying some of the most beautiful slices of the California coast for the next 30 years and beyond.
Hopefully, though, the ill-conceived bills will die a quick death in the state Legislature, since it's our fairly educated guess that, given a choice, the large majority of Orange County residents, versus the few living at El Morro and their friends, would likely support opening up these public lands instead of leaving it a private enclave of mobile homes.
El Morro is part of a huge land exchange years ago between the state and the Irvine Co. that bequeathed Crystal Cove State Park and its scenic beaches to the residents of this state.
Once the residents have vacated, a process that is now beginning, the state Department of Parks and Recreation has plans to remove the mobile homes and create a public park, complete with a 60-unit campground and a 200-space parking lot. The changes would give the public direct access to the beach and nature trails.
This fight is no different than the one earlier over the Crystal Cove cottages, and the public deserves the same outcome -- access to the beaches it pays to maintain.
DeVore's stated goal is to save the state money, and he called the park plans for the site, "fiscal madness," even though Mike Tope, the local superintendent of state parks, has confirmed that the $12 million to pay for the upgrades at El Morro has already been earmarked in the state budget.
And let's review the numbers on DeVore's bills.
In one version, in exchange for a 30-year reprieve, the mobile-home owners combined would pay "fair market value" for their rents -- to the tune of $3.2 million a year, going to the state's park maintenance fund.
With 295 units sitting at El Morro, that amounts to an average of $10,847 per unit, per year or $904 a month. We'd say that's well below fair market value for a beachside bungalow.
In another version, the current El Morro residents would need to pony up a $50-million payment that would go toward the state's $8 billion budget deficit. That comes up to an average of $1.7 million each year for 30 years.
Practically giving away taxpayers' land to people, who have known for 10 years that their leases were ending, is also fiscal madness.
We urge Assemblyman DeVore to scrap this plan and instead fight to ensure that the public taxpayers have unfettered access to their state coastal lands. El Morro should be saved for all the residents in this state, not just a select few.
[Clips from original newspaper articles appear here for educational purposes and purposes of comment, rather than commercial purposes. They are reprinted under the fair use doctrine of international copyright law. Copyright Daily Pilot]
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