Editorial: Public parks with private operators

Source: Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2012

It will save California money, but is it a good idea to hand over state parks to for-profit companies?

Related:
Turlock Lake escapes closure
Source: John Holland, Modesto Bee, June 16, 2012

Boaters, campers and other users of Turlock Lake can rest easy. It looks as if the state park that surrounds it will not close after all. The state has reached an agreement with American Land & Leisure, a recreation management company based in Orem, Utah, to run the park for the next five years. The transition will start July 1, which was the date the park was set to close as part of the state’s budget-cutting efforts….Visitor fees will cover the operating costs, including monthly rent payments to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, he said. The exact terms were not available as of Friday.

Private Fix for Public Parks / Companies Will Manage Six California Sites to Limit Closures Under Budget Cuts
Source: Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2012
(subscription required)

The 2012-13 Budget: Strategies to Maintain California’s Park System
Source: Lia Moore, California Legislative Analyst’s Office, March 2, 2012

California Park Privatization: Report Suggests Operation Of State Parks By Private, For-Profit Firms
Source: Aaron Sankin, Huffington Post, March 8, 2012

Transferring many of California’s state parks to private operation was among a number of suggestions, according to a recent California Legislative Analyst’s Office report, that would keep the state’s floundering park system afloat.

Over the past two years, the Golden State has defunded its park system to the tune of $22 million dollars, leading the California’s Department of Parks and Recreation to make a painful decision to shutter about 70 of the state’s 278 parks by July of this year.

Private firms operating in state parks are a common occurrence: California currently has contracts with about 200 for-profit firms to provide services like operating snack bars and running boating marinas. These contracts have funneled $12.5 million into Parks Department coffers last year alone; however, privatizing the operation of an entire park is something relatively new.

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