EDITOR: Regarding the proposal to drastically raise the cost of a state park annual pass, Philip Sales ("Price hike is wrong strategy," Close to Home, Thursday) wrote, "I think the increase is poor public relations and hardly a way to reward the public for its support over the past year." I couldn't agree more.
In October 2001, "when Governor (Gray) Davis dropped fees," said then-state parks Director Rusty Areias, "we began to see a surge in park visitors . . . a total of 21 million additional visitors. But then came the economic bonus," Areias said. "The additional spending is astounding and wonderful at a time when California's sagging economy really needs a boost."
Let's consider Proposition 21 in 2010, where a proposed $18 annual fee on vehicle registrations would have completely funded state park operations and given people free day-use. California voters rejected this ballot measure. Still, there were 4.2 million forward-thinking voters who supported it.
Now the state thinks it can coax people into buying a pass for $195? In these economic times, raising fees seems counter-intuitive. If these same 4.2 million voters were offered an annual day-use pass for a measly $18, this would produce $75.6 million for state parks.