Proposition 12 would put $50 million in Tahoe Basin |

Proposition 12 would put $50 million in Tahoe Basin

Millions of dollars could be set aside for Tahoe if California voters decide to approve the largest parks bond measure in U.S. history.

Proposition 12, the Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 calls for the sale of $2.1 billion of general obligation bonds to fund the acquisition, development and protection of recreational, cultural and natural areas.

If passed, the California Tahoe Conservancy, a state agency dedicated to preserving and restoring environmentally sensitive land parcels in the Lake Tahoe Basin, is slated to receive $50 million of the total amount.

Conservancy Executive Director Dennis Machida said the governmental agency is not in a position to endorse the measure. He was able to provide a synopsis of how the dollars would be spent in the Tahoe Basin if the measure passed.

Machida said funding provided to the Conservancy could be used for:

n Up to 25 miles of erosion control measures.

n The restoration and enhancement of up to 70 acres of disturbed stream zones.

n The acquisition of up to 160 additional environmentally sensitive parcels.

n Restoration of up to 9 miles of streams.

n Restoration of up to 700 acres of wildlife habitat.

n Increase public access to over 30 acres of land, including some lakefront.

n Construction of three miles of bike trail.

Opposing the measure is California Sen. Ray Haynes.

Haynes, along with Assemblyman Brett Granlund and Lewis Uhler, president of the National Tax-Limitation Committee, say the measure is deceiving.

“The government will use the vast majority of the money to buy more land for insects, rats and weeds,” the trio wrote in an argument against the measure.

They also said there is no reason to support the bond because there is no shortage of government-owned land.

But for the city of South Lake Tahoe, the bond would bring money that could be used for maintenance of its parks facilities, not acquisitions.

City Recreation Superintendent Judy Crawford asked the City Council to support the measure in the form of a resolution.

Although the council held fast to its policy not to support any campaign measures, Crawford made it clear that the funding is needed.

“We have so many existing needs that we would have to upgrade what we already have first,” she said. “It’s been 10 years since California has had a parks bond. If we had this money, we could finish the landscaping at Bijou Community Park and refit the playgrounds to the new style of safer playground equipment.”

Estimations of how much money the city would qualify for under the bond measure were about $200,000. That money, however, isn’t guaranteed and the city would have to compete for it in grant applications.

John Upton, of the South Tahoe Alliance for Recreation, said he’s in support of Proposition 12 but doesn’t believe it provides enough funding to wipe out the need for a local bond measure to fund three area projects – the construction of an ice skating rink, playing fields and bike trails. He is in the process of drawing up the proposal for the measure, which he expects to bring to the voters by fall.

“We still need to pursue a (local recreation) bond measure,” Upton said. “There’s not enough money in Prop 12 with any reliable probability of our getting it.”

Upton said market conditions for bond sales are perfect, with low interest rates.

Sen. Haynes disagrees.

“Bond measures are the most expensive and wasteful financing schemes ever devised,” a written statement signed by Haynes said. “According to the secretary of state, taxpayers must pay $1.78 for every $1 of bond proceeds, because of fees paid to lawyers and bankers and the effect of compounded interest.”

Under that calculation, the opposition estimates that taxpayers will have to pay about $3.7 billion for the $2.1 billion bond over the next 25 years.

Additional support for the measure comes from California League of Women Voters, the American Association of Retired Persons and the California Taxpayers’ Association.

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