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Park your opinion here on state parks

July 20, 2010 |  6:50 am

The campaigning has started early for Proposition 21, the state parks initiative, and why not? This is the season when people swarm to the state beaches, hit the trails and set up their tents and RVs in the parks' campgrounds. This is also the summer when a date for two at a movie matinee can cost less than dropping by a public park. (OK, not including the hideously priced popcorn.) Daily parking at Crystal Cove State Beach, for example, costs $15 after the state's fiscal crisis forced higher fees.

That's not to mention the reduced services at the parks and the backlog of maintenance.

Those will be among the issues for the editorial board to consider as it examines Proposition 21, which would impose an additional $18 annual fee on non-commercial vehicles to raise money for California state parks. In exchange, the public would be given free access, all year long, to those parks.

But the public schools, Cal State University and University of California are all hurting too. Why no vehicle registration fee for them? Or for the state's children who need medical care but whose parents can't afford or get health insurance? Libraries, home health services ... if state funding is involved, you can pretty much count on a program in distress.

Should state initiatives pick off individual needs with individual funding sources? That's something the Times editorial board has seldom endorsed, but these are uncommon times.

And would this added fee be worthwhile to you? How often do you visit the state's parks? Which ones? And how often would you go if it were free?

-- Karin Klein

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