<b>A new course for parks</b>
EDITOR: Your Oct. 29 editorial ("State parks hurts its own cause — again") made several clear points but needs clarification.
The editorial is correct about the nearly 40 percent budget decrease over five years and the $1 billion in maintenance backlog.
As noted, the proposal for parking fees along the Sonoma Coast is not popular. But it is necessary. Even Sonoma County charges fees for its parks, and the rest of the state park system charges fees. Community groups partnering to keep parks open are depending on those fees to help do just that. Abandoning the idea would make a bad fiscal situation worse.
Regarding waived fees at Hearst Castle, over the past 10 years two events out of 120 were singled out. Even with just two, state parks is reviewing its policies for possible change. To clarify, from 2002 to 2012, the department waived $566,100 in fees but for the same period collected $1.7 million in fees and donations. The castle brought in $1.1 million above and beyond the fees waived, more than double the fees waived.
The priorities for the new leadership at state parks revolve around making corrections and setting a new course for how our state park system serves our visitors in years to come.
Deputy director, state Department of Parks and Recreation
<b>Make a statement</b>
EDITOR: Before you vote no on Proposition 30, ask yourself if you are willing to publicly stand up and say, "I do not support public education. I prefer to live in a society where only children with well-to-do parents attend private school and the rest are left to fend for themselves. I want the public schools to be closed because I am not willing to pay for them."