August 1, 2014

Speak up to keep Tesla in Park District Master Plan

A portion of the Tesla site. Don't let this be torn up by off-road vehicles.

A portion of the Tesla site. Don’t let this be torn up by off-road vehicles.

A state agency has sent a letter pressuring the East Bay Regional Park District to drop the Tesla Property from the District’s Master Plan.

The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the state Department of Parks and Recreation bought these 3,400 acres of rolling hills on the eastern border of Alameda County with the intent of adding them to its Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area. It is now preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR, expected to be issued in winter 2014) on future use of the land. A key provision of the California Environmental Quality Act is that the EIR must weigh alternative uses.

The Sierra Club is working to preserve these lands–in particular to protect them from the devastation of off-road vehicle use (see June-July Yodeler, page 4). The fact that the site is included in the Park District’s Master Plan as a potential regional preserve demonstrates that a more protective use is possible. We support keeping Tesla in the plan. The Division should fairly study this viable alternative use in its EIR, and not try to eliminate it.

WhatYouCanDo

Write to the Park District. Urge it to stand firm in keeping the Tesla property in its Master Plan, continue to offer to work with the Off-Highway Division on an alternative protective use for Tesla, and submit comments on the upcoming EIR.

Write to John Sutter, president of the Board of Directors; Ayn Wieskamp, director for Ward 5, the ward that includes Tesla; and general manager Robert Doyle at:

East Bay Regional Park District
P.O. Box 5381
Oakland, CA 94605

jsutter@ebparks.org

bdoyle@ebparks.org

awieskamp@ebparks.org

Text of the Off-Highway Division’s letter:

State of California • Natural Resources Agency
Edmund G. Brown Jr., Governor
DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division
1725 23rd Street, Suite 200
Sacramento, California 95816

Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret.), Director

August 21, 2013

Mr. Robert Doyle
General Manager
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Court
Oakland, CA 94605

Dear Mr. Doyle,

California State Parks has received the East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) letter dated July 16, 2013, regarding Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) General Plan Concept Alternatives. In the letter, there are a number of statements relevant to the present and future relationship between your group, the EBRPD and California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division.

The letter references Mr. Brian Holt’s attendance at a Public Workshop held by California State Parks regarding land within Carnegie SVRA. His letter offers feedback regarding your group’s opinion about public usage of the properties. We acknowledge and appreeratethis input, as this is precisely why Public Workshops are valuable for the creation of General Plans for parks in the California State Park System.

In his letter, Mr. Holt identifies the “Tesla Property” as being on the EBRPD Master Plan Map of 2007. He states that “it continues to be identified as potential parkland during the ongoing update of the Master Plan Map should the opportunity become available.” It is imperative to recognize that all properties in question are in fact owned by California State Parks. The specific property Mr. Holt refers to, the “Tesla Property”, was acquired by the OHMVR Division of California State Parks as an extension of Carnegie SVRA. This acquisition was approved by the Governor, the Legislature, and the Department of Finance. There is no disputing to whom this parcel belongs.

When the EBRPD first identified this State Park property on your Master Plan Map in 2007, Deputy Director Daphne Greene (OHMVR Division) issued a letter to you explaining that the “Tesla Property” would be included in the planning process for recreation within Carnegie SVRA. The letter specifically stated that “this area will remain in operation and management by the California State Parks OHMVR Division, and is not under considerationJor C!L -” Since the EBRPD assists in management of other properties owned by California State Parks, the letter also referenced future opportunities for the EBRPD to assist with interpretative programming at Carnegie SVRA.

We expected that once the EBRPD was officially notified that the property was owned by California State Parks for inclusion in the Carnegie SVRA General Plan, that the EBRPD would accept this reality and promptly remove the property from its own maps. Your recent letter and actions clearly say otherwise.

The ‘Tesla Property” was again included in your East Bay Regional Parks District Draft 2012 Master Plan. It was identified as “potential EBRPD parklands.” On October 16, 2012, you were issued another letter from the Acting Deputy Director OHMVR Division, Chief Phil Jenkins. His letter reiterated our position stated in the 2007 letter and further explained the legally mandated purpose of lands acquired by State Vehicular Recreation Areas for off­ highway vehicle usage. In part, his letter states, “Given OHMVR Division’s obligated interest in identifying uses of the properties consistent with use of OHV Trust Fund dollars, along with the underlying OHMVR Division Act, further inclusion of the ‘Tesla” property as “potential EBRPD parklands” appears to be inappropriate and the OHMVR Division requests its removal from the final EBRPD Master Plan.”

Chief Jenkins’ letter was intended to fully clarify our position, and to allow the EBRPD to correct your Master Plan before further straining the relationship between the EBRPD and California State Parks. For this reason we were very disappointed by your decision at the July 16, 2013 EBRPD Board Meeting to reassert false ownershiof portions of the Carnegie SVRA by including “Tesla Property” as a part of your Master Plan approval. These actions create undue confusion and ambiguity for our public, especially as we are attempting to complete our General Plan for the complete Carnegie SVRA.

There is no ambiguity regarding that parcel’s ownership status in the eyes of the law. The California Legislature approved acquisition of the Tesla Property for the expressed purpose of being part of the Carnegie SVRA. It is purposely misleading to identify portions of the Carnegie SVRA as a part of your Master Plan because it belongs, unequivocally to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The EBRPD position on this issue stands in the way of our continued constructive partnership. Our organizations have many more shared goals and visions that should be the seeds of shared collaboration, not the center of conflict.

It is the mission of California State Parks to provide a multitude of recreational opportunities for our citizens. Therefore, we do encourage you to collaborate with OHMVR Division and the Twin Cities District (which Carnegie SVRA is a part of) in pursuing land use plans that will allow for more varied forms of recreation. Those forms of recreation include Off­ highway Motor Vehicle Recreation as mandated by our Legislature and managed by the OHMVR Division. We recognize the special attributes of the ‘Tesla Property,” and we would prefer to work together to complement your Master Plan rather than debate ownership rights.

We strongly request that the East Bay Regional Park District remove references to property owned by California State Parks from the East Bay Regional Park District Draft 2012 Master Plan and all subsequent documents. We sincerely hope that we can resolve our political differences and forge a shared path to provide Californians responsible access to our natural treasures.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Tesla Property and California State Parks plans for its stewardship and access as part of Carnegie SVRA. Please feel free to call me at (916) 324-5801 if you have further questions.

Sincerely,

Christopher C. Conlin
Deputy Director
Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division

cc: Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret), Director, California State Parks
Aaron Robertson, Chief Deputy Director, California State Parks
Mat Fuzie, Deputy Director, Park Operations, California State Parks
Phil Jenkins, Chief, OHMVR Division, California State Parks
Michael Fehling, District Superintendent, Twin Cities District, California State Parks

Comments

  1. Diana Mead says:

    The letter from Deputy Director Conlin clearly outlines state parks position on the Tesla property. As a resident of the E Bay Parks district, I find EBP to be misinformed and prejudicial in their approach to off highway motorized recreation.

    There are no opportunities within the EBP system for this type of recreation that is enjoyed by many Alameda and Contra Costa families.

    Carnegie SVRA, like every other State Park, is obligated by law to protect habitat and archeological sites. This has been done at the current park and is a part of the expansion plan. Having toured the Tesla area, I can assure you that it is not the pristine area, Friends of Tesla, would have you believe. The mine tailings are big and ugly, worse than a maintained OHV trail, in my opinion. The town ruins are littered, crisscrossed with degraded plumbing and depressions signaling compromised mine shafts. These features are a fair indication of the costly environmental mitigation that is needed. That, of course, is only the “surface” features. What of the waste from a turn of the century mining operation?

    Then there are the ever present indicators of cattle grazing. Funny how in California, we have come to accept the single oak in the middle of a pasture as “natural”, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Carnegie SVRA is a prime example of sustainable recreation. Although many may find the sight of a trail on an open hillside to be an eyesore, the wildlife within the park is very healthy and plentiful. Care is taken to maintain the trail system and the environment. There are many protected archeological sites.

    I understand your negative perspective on OHMVR, but a goal to eliminate places for your fellow citizens to ride is counterproductive. The OH vehicles registered each year in California are going to be ridden somewhere. Reminder, there are no public riding areas in the EBRP district.

    As Deputy Director Conlin stated, a partnership helping us to develop a park which includes other opportunities along with the OHMVR, would be welcomed. Beyond that though, an understanding that managing this recreation and ensuring that our parks are sustainable is more realistic than attempting to eliminate or constrain a legal form of recreation.

    Thank you.

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