There’s a lot of talk about whether or not it is appropriate to pay for State Parks with an $18 bump to your car registration. Is that weird? Is there a connection between parks and cars? If we vote for this initiative in November, our cars will get into State Parks without paying day-use fees. A one-time entry to a State Park is $12, so is $18 worth it for the whole year? I have two cars so that’s $36 bucks for me. I never go to parks for the day (only camp), but I still think it’s worth it. I think cars and parks are connected, because I think parks are the “highways” for our cars during leisure time.
Yes, license fees should not be abused to pay for things that are not connected to cars, for sure. They shouldn’t pay for libraries, education, welfare, unemployment, or mental health programs. But highways, public parking, air pollution, and parks that we drive to and park in – yes, I think that’s appropriate.
Actually, even if I can’t drive to or park in a park, I would still support helping parks with my car budget. Here’s why.
In my commuter car, I drive by the Santa Monica Mountains every morning and night, and am thankful that corridor is natural and not built on. In Los Angeles County, National and State Parks own those mountains and viciously defend them from developers, and I bet it costs them a bunch of money to do so. I don’t go up into those mountains. I just drive by, and it’s worth it because it starts and finishes my work days right. It helps my commute. It’s a beautiful drive, and I’ll pay $18 a year for that.
My other 18 bucks I’d have to pay if this went through would come from my VW camper-van registration. Again, I wouldn’t benefit from a free State Park day-use fee, because I’m camping – and the tax doesn’t cover camping. But I’m in the parks for days. I can see all the raw land that my family has the benefit to enjoy, hiking trails, beaches, park staff, restrooms – and I access them all with my van. In fact there is such a close relationship between my van and these places that I’d have to also admit that my most treasured moments, and the most time I’ve spent inside my van, has been in State Parks, here along the Central Coast. My son has all his memories of sleeping in that van under the trees at Leo Carrillo, listening to the raccoons at night at Montana de Oro, or falling asleep to firelight at Refugio after a long day surfing. The van and the park are rolled up into the same experience.
Is there a connection between cars and parks? To my family there is. I’ll vote for it.