April 9, 2019—As you are all aware, the first hearing for AB-767 was today. I will attach my testimony to the bottom of this letter for your review.
SB-767 was scheduled to be the last to be heard. And at 11:50 word was that we’d be at least 1:30 plus. I found a nice bench outside. Apparently Blue Ribbon, Don Amador, AMA, and CAL4WD went to lunch. Ten minutes later I get a text from Ken Oyer who was in the room for the entire time. We’re up… damn. I’m only about a football length away from the door, but I walk at the speed of a turtle, slow and semi-steady.
I get through security, into the room and Mark Conolley is completing his lengthy I oppose and he is the last one. I missed what Senator Glazer said, I don’t know who else testified for the bill. Terry McHale sat down a half second before I did and he started off with the oppositon. He speaks off the cuff, is smooth and seemingly respected, but what I hear him say totally miscombobulates me: “We’ll be back here again next year if something doesn’t change, How about a third party arbitration….?” What?
He finishes and gets up from the table and, I believe, leaves the room… just me at the table. The Senators are hungry, mulling around a couple seem semi-interested. I had memorized my first two paragraphs and was harried but ready. I got 2/3 of the way through when Senator Stern says we need to wrap up. I smile, do a quick internal debate and state the paragraph about precedent. They think I’m done and I quip, “one more thought” and finish up with the final paragraph. When it comes to the oppose statements, there is Kathy Lynch, Matt Musgrove, Ken Oyer and Ken Clarke. No AMA etc. Discouraging.
The senators did ask questions of Senator Glazer, but two of the questions were about this idea for arbitration. I am still gathering my thoughts.
Senators and staff of the Natural Resources and Water Committee, thank you for your service and for giving me this opportunity to address you in regards to SB-767.
I am a proud Democrat, serving on the board of a statewide organization. I advocate for access for OHV recreation. Senator Glazer is my Senator. I so wish he had agreed to meet with me during the last two years. (Kathy asked me to leave that last sentence out, but I did put it back in to the copy I sent to the Senator)
SB-767 is very similar to last year’s SB-1316, a bill I also opposed. Once again, our legislative resources are being used to intercede in a local issue. SB-767 attempts to create an avenue for the sale of a particular parcel of State Parks-owned property. It also singles out one particular recreation and those who enjoy it, Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation.
When asked why he introduced 1316, my Senator volunteered, “The property will never have OHV, the lawsuits will keep coming, and they are costly. We can’t afford this.” While those are not the exact words he used, it is the gist. All lawmakers recognize that lawsuits are an unintended consequence of CEQA. What my senator is not understanding is many of the groups who support SB-767 will not stop attacking OHV in their neighborhood if this property is sold. There is a lengthy documented history of efforts to shut down Carnegie SVRA.
SB-767 would allow for the sale of property purchased over 20 years ago. The purpose of this purchase was for expanding Carnegie SVRA and enhancing both motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities at this park. This purchase was not a secret. Adjacent landowners were the beneficiaries of disclosure. Of course, the bill will not force State Parks to sell the property. However, SB-767 undermines State Parks and the level of stewardship this Department brings to all Californians.
State Parks are required to meet higher standards than Regional, County or city parks. SB-249, the “Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Bill”, passed into law in the fall of 2017, defines requirements for SVRAs to meet even more rigorous environmental standards including those applied to habitat and soil erosion. So, SB-767 proposes to save this parcel from the very Division of State Parks that will offer the greatest protections?
To date, State Parks has invested significant dollars to mitigate, improve and protect the expansion property. SB-767 does not credit State Parks for the 20 years of land preparation for public use.
SB-767 does not indicate that the future owner will even allow public access, but if they do, money will be needed to mitigate an early 1900’s mining operation. If they don’t plan for public access, and instead place into conservatorship, allowing grazing perhaps, there are no required protections for natural and cultural resources as mandated for state parks. AND our local community will have lost access for the many.
Through the supporters of SB-767, an issue of local concern has taken on the profile of a precedent setting statewide bill. Should SB-767 become law, a coalition of select neighbors could use their connections, influence and precedent to sell or limit access to your local state park or beach. STOPPED
Off-road recreation is relatively non-partisan. Our community comes in all flavors! We have the foundation of shared interests to build bridges with each other. We have made consistent efforts to build more bridges and endorsed a General Plan that will benefit the entire region even though it is not perfect. Yet those who oppose OHV have not made those same efforts. “No OHV” is their first priority.
State Parks and the off-road community will continue to reach out to those who say “no OHV.” We have a park to build and it would benefit all of us to seek high ground on this issue. At a minimum, I hope those who have the ear of the groups who say “no OHV” will encourage them to cease the pointed lawsuits, and contribute their ideas to this park. More, to build a park with access to all, including those who have challenges enjoying regular state parks, the physically disabled.
The approved Carnegie SVRA general plan outlines a park that is very different than the current park. The trails will be wider, much further apart, allowing for ample open space, buffer areas, and a broad spectrum of recreation, protect archeological sites, wildlife habitat, water sources, and our air quality. There are no opportunities at Carnegie SVRA or elsewhere in the bay area for Side x Sides, the largest growing segment of OHVs. Only 9 of the 280+ state parks welcome OHVs and only Carnegie SVRA serves the bay area. This is a facility that will be treasured.
This particular off roader urges you not to endorse, even as a courtesy, a divisive local matter with roots in Nimbyism. The very obvious bias against OHV should not carry the day. Allow SB-249 to work as this body legislated and approved, less than two years ago.Respect and support State Parks in performing the job they are entrusted to do. Oppose SB-767.