Few stepping up to save Candlestick Point Recreation Area site as parks shut down 

  • Photo by Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner

Cities and nonprofit groups seem likely to save as many as half of the 70 state parks destined for closure under the latest proposed state budget. But tiny Candlestick Point Recreation Area in the Bayview may not be so lucky.

Candlestick Point officials are still frantically searching for funding to keep the park’s facilities open before services are discontinued on July 1 due to state budget cuts.

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget plan that cut $22 million in funding from 70 of 278 state parks, including 16 in the Bay Area. Twenty parks subsequently obtained third-party funding to remain open, at least temporarily. An additional 16 are in negotiations to temporarily remain open with funds from outside groups or municipalities.

But no such funding source has been located for Candlestick Point, which attracts more than 150,000 visitors annually.

“There have been a lot of discussions about keeping Candlestick open, but as of right now no immediate plans have been made,” said Jerry Emory, spokesman for the California State Parks Foundation, which raises funds for capital projects, competitive grants and educational programs at state parks. “We’re hoping that something will come to the surface before July 1 because we’re very much dedicated to that park.”

Elimination of services at the park will save approximately $507,000 a year, according to Roy Stearns, a spokesman for California State Parks.

Candlestick Point has multiple entryways, making it difficult to close off the entire property. So people will still be allowed to enter the park after July 1, but there will be no bathroom access, trash cleanup or running water, park officials said. It is still unclear whether park officials will continue patrolling the property.

“A closed gate might result in those with ill intent being protected to do their theft or damage or whatever, behind the protection of a locked gate,” Stearns said. “An open gate would allow the general public to come and go and it might be that our friends, volunteers and other supporters would then help keep an eye on the park and report troubles.”

Although the 170-acre park has had few problems with vandalism, homelessness and other illegal activity, the likelihood that those problems will increase after its closure has concerned park officials.

“We’ve worked hard over the years to keep Candlestick a safe environment,” said Supervising State Park Ranger Ann Meneguzzi. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep it that way after it closes.”

Bill would help parks stay open

A bill that could help stave off closures of state parks in California is still working its way through the Capitol.

In February, Reps. Jared Huffman and Wesley Chesbro proposed Assembly Bill 1589, which aims to rescue the state parks scheduled to close and address their short- and long-term needs.

The bill requires the state Department of Parks and Recreation to publicly disclose its rational for closing state parks in the future. The bill says closing state parks should be a last resort when there are shortfalls in funding and when all other options have been considered.

The Assembly recently voted unanimously to pass.

AB 1589 is also known as the California State Parks Stewardship Act of 2012.

The bill is currently on its way to the Senate for consideration.


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Carolyn Copeland

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