We just got back from the last East Bay Regional Parks District’s (EBRPD) public meeting in Richmond on October 9th. We were informed that decision on the Master Plan won’t be made until next year.

EBTPD is required to hold public meetings and give the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed Master Plan. But instead of allowing us to comment individually to everyone in the room, they divide the room into different stations manned by park officials who take notes while each individual makes his or her comment. In the end they are tabulated and the officials give a short synopsis of all the different comments.

The lines wound around the room and barely moved. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry and they each took their time when they finally got a chance to talk to an official. When I got to the head of a line and told the official what I thought, he observed that I was just saying the same thing as the person in line in front of me. He didn’t bother to note anything that I had said.

This was his reaction after I talked for at least a few minutes extraneously and independent of the people around me. As an attorney (used to making arguments in front of juries) my arguments were based on the legal implications of what they were proposing. Either he didn’t understand what I was saying or he wasn’t listening. It felt like I was being discriminated against either because of my position or because of some other intrinsic characteristic (you decide).

The moderator claimed that they are considering input from everybody (all stakeholders) in an evenhanded manner. The words “dispassionate” and “non-partial” came up a few times in the description of how they were reaching consensus on various issues.

He observed that “we have some issues that have drawn a lot of controversy with people on both sides feeling very strongly”.But in the end everybody cooperated and they all remained calm.” Do you suppose that he was referring to Tesla? “We will have to make decisions that not everybody is going to like…” or words to that affect.

He talked about the survey EBRPD did (it did not mention OHV recreation as an alternative) and said that it demonstrated that nobody was interested in OHV recreation (one person wrote it in).  He talked about the scientific basis for the survey as if it was neutral and unbiased.

About this scientifically prepared survey (of only 400 participants) which purports to show no interest in OHV activities in the whole entire Bay Area… We pay property tax in Richmond but we weren’t surveyed. When they closed Redwood we abandoned EBRPD and never visited their web-site and so we didn’t know about the “other survey” (on their web-site).

We were not the only East Bay residents left out of the survey who might have shown a preference for OHV recreation. There is also the likelihood that nobody would have considered OHV recreation as a preference because everyone knows that there are no OHV parks in the Bay Area since they closed Redwood.

In contrast to EBRPD’s survey, the state parks looked at the results of their 2009 survey and concluded that OHV recreation was a top priority in four out of seven regions in California (including San Francisco). It was in the top ten of forty different preferred activities. Of course if they had directed the survey to only the East Bay Parks officials they would have come to a different conclusion.

The moderator presented the controversy over Tesla neutrally as if was an even battle between interest groups and nothing more. According to him participants at the meetings were advocating their preferences with each person’s position was being noted in a dispassionate manner. What was not mentioned is that for us it is a life and death struggle.

Carnegie is the closest place to ride our bikes. It is often overcrowded (especially in the winter time) and the extension which is Tesla needs to be opened to relieve congestion on the trails. There is nowhere else to ride within sixty miles. For them it was just another addition to the hundred and twelve thousand acres of land which they already own. For us it is everything.

We are fighting against an enemy which is ruthless and underhanded. The people behind this “adopt-a-park” effort are the same people who filed the failed lawsuit against Carnegie. They talk as if they were the only rational even-handed people in the arena when in fact they are outright thieves.

This is war! This is not a gentlemanly disagreement.

It is evident that EBRPD does not recognize the implications of what they are doing. Tesla was purchased from OHV trust fund money supported by fees and taxes paid by the off road community and appropriated by the legislature for OHV recreation. Maybe their legal advice is once they start construction it becomes a done deal. And then there is nothing that the off road contingent can do.

And if protecting the environment is central to these folks; why do they include two golf courses within their domain? Golf courses are constructed by clearing away all native fauna and replacing it with special hybrid European grasses. The greens are manicured and maintained with chemicals. Even if park officials claim to use these chemicals in reduced amounts, they are still toxic. Compared to their golf courses Carnegie is a veritable repository of wildlife and natural habitat. How would they feel if there was no place to hike or play golf because we have to preserve nature?

Our opponents project a persona of being environmentally conscious. They contend that we destroy the environment by riding our vehicles off road. Yet they drive their cars to access their favorite trials. They say that they want to run Tesla as a “passive use park” because they want to save it from being mauled by dirt bike riders. It is obvious that they are using the same lies and distortions against us as they used in the failed lawsuit.

They claim hiking in East Bay parks keeps them healthy and never acknowledge that OHV recreation is physically demanding. Fat out of shape people do not generally ride dirt bikes. But they want to take away our riding area because walking makes them feel healthy (as well as superior). What a misplaced sense of reality

We need to make more comments on their website. We are not going to stand for the theft of our land. It is undemocratic. They can’t just take over a state OHV park and keep out OHV riders because the presence of natural and historical resources (common fauna and wildlife found throughout the region and a town long since demolished ) makes it inappropriate for OHV recreation. This is the United States of America. We don’t do things that way here. This is the land of the free.

Our deputy director told them that our park is not for sale That has not stopped them. Incorporating our park in their master plan is being done stealthily. First they put it on a map as “a place of interest” before mentioning it specifically. Even though the non-draft master plan will not be presented until next year, they act like it is a done deal. It is just a matter of dividing Tesla up among interest groups with the proviso that OHV recreation will not be considered.

Off road enthusiasts should not be surprised next year when their master plan is released to see our little park listed among their other 120,000 odd acres.

COMMENT COMMENT COMMENT COMMENT… let them know that we are mad as H*ll and we are not going to take it anymore. First they take our sixty acre Redwood Off Road Park and give it to the people that already had some one-hundred thousand acres and now they want to take over Tesla; a park that does not even belong to them. Have they no shame?

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  1. Diana Tweedy says:

    Check out the December issue of Dirt Bike Magazine. Chuck got a letter published called Battle of Carnegie about the East Bay Regional Parks attempted takeover of the Alameda/Tesla expansion for non-OHV use.

    His message is that this attempted takeover of our park should be of interest to everybody in the OHV community because $7 million was taken from the OHV trust fund to purchase the property to expand Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area, and now a local regional park is trying to take it over and turn our off highway vehicle park into a non-OHV park.

    Everybody should be concerned because it is our money that they are trying to steal. We all pay into the OHV trust fund. This is not just a local issue. “The OHV Division was formed to protect our funds and make sure the money was spent for OHV use. Is this local agency more powerful than the state, or is the fix in? If so it means that the state is betraying our trust. We should be very angry.”

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