Bay Area Parks, beaches, redwood habitats go on the chopping block 

Several Bay Area state parks and beaches, including some located in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, are set to become casualties of Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to whittle down the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit.

Portola Redwoods State Park in the far southeast corner of San Mateo County, Gray Whale Cove State Beach near Pacifica and Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco are among the 70 state parks slated to close starting in September.

“It’s a redwood park, and that’s significant,” California State Parks spokesman Roy Stearns said of Portola Redwoods’ impending closure. “But we have to draw the line somewhere.”

The closures are the result of an $11 million gap faced by California State Parks in the next fiscal year, Stearns said. A additional $22 million deficit is expected in subsequent years.

Closing the parks means “no staff at all,” explained Stearns. Staff positions being eliminated translates into no funding for those positions, thus saving money, Stearns said.

But with no staff and no budget, Stearns acknowledged it will be an uphill battle to try to contain criminal activity — such as people operating a methamphetamine lab or marijuana farm — in the vast empty spaces.

“We don’t know yet,” Stearns said when asked how the state would enforce the park closures. “This is brand new to us. We’re going to make adjustments as we go.”

The state hopes to rely on its employees to occasionally check on the parks while also seeking help from neighboring jurisdictions, such as cities, counties and nonprofits, Stearns said.

“We are very seriously looking for partners,” Stearns said. “Our goal is to get parks off this list, not to keep them on.” 

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s office does not have jurisdiction over state parks located within the county, department spokesman Lt. Ray Lunny said.

Parks in Marin County including China Camp, Samuel P. Taylor, Olompali and Tomales Bay are also on the chopping block.

Of the state’s 278 total parks, 70 were slated for closure in Brown’s first budget, released in January. None of the 70 were taken off the list in the May revise.

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

Parking it

 

State park closures by county:

San Mateo
Portola Redwoods, Gray Whale Cove State Beach

San Francisco
Candlestick Point
 
Marin
China Camp, Samuel P. Taylor, Olompali and Tomales Bay

Santa Clara
Henry W. Coe

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