Gov. Jerry Brown's administration announced a plan Friday to close up to 70 of its 278 parks due to budget cuts. Among the sites slated to shut down is
“We regret closing any park,” Ruth Coleman, director of California State Parks, said in a press release, “but with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system.”
Those cuts were mandated by AB 95, which was passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor in March, according to the press release. The closures would save California $33 million, the release said. Brown is expected to announce his revised budget on Monday.
"The actual closures, if they do go into effect, probably won’t happen until June or July of 2012," Los Angeles District Acting Superintendent Craig Sap told Encino Patch.
Sap said the details of the closures have not been worked out, but the state will continue to protect and preserve Los Encino State Historic Park, he said.
"In the case of Los Encinos, which is a historic park, you’re still looking at caretaker status. They’re not just going to lock the doors and walk away," he said. “The largest saving is in staff wages and salaries. People are going to be relocated, that’s for sure. We’ll have to take what’s given to us as far as remaining staff and spread it where it’s needed," he said.
The 5-acre Los Encinos State Historic Park, located at Balboa and Ventura boulevards, has been a treasured piece of history in the San Fernando Valley. The historic De la Osa Adobe, built by Vincente De la Osa in 1849, still stands at the park.
“It passed through many hands, going from Indian to Mission to Californio to French and Basque control through the 19th Century," the Los Encinos Docents Association said on the park’s website. "It now remains a visible link to our past, and in Los Angeles, such connections are rare and tenuous."
The park also boasts a natural spring that Native American tribes used for thousands of years. Today, the spring feeds a flourishing duck pond that attracts families to the tranquil surroundings. It's also a popular place for picnics, parties and weddings.
Los Encinos State Historic Park rangers and volunteers host an for the community. They also organize once a month that features a working blacksmith shop, 19th-century children's games, traditional music and volunteers in authentic historical costume.
Los Encinos park ranger Lee Hawkins told Encino Patch he couldn’t comment on the recent news.
“It’s a shame that we have to close any of our state parks ... but this is a stark reality of the state’s financial crisis,” state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica), the chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, said in a statement.
“I remain hopeful that we can find two Republican votes in each house to allow California voters to decide whether to maintain existing taxes or make further cuts to state parks,” Pavley added.
According to the press release, the California State Parks had three primary goals in developing a closure plan:
- Protect the most significant natural and cultural resources;
- Maintain public access and revenue generation to the greatest extent possible;
- Protect closed parks so that they remain attractive and usable for potential partners.
“With this announcement, we can begin to seek additional partnership agreements to keep open as many parks as possible,” Coleman said in the press release. “We already have 32 operating agreements with our partners—cities, counties and non-profits—to operate state parks, and will be working statewide to expand that successful template.”
See the attachments above for the complete park closure list and methodology.