THE ALAMEDA/TESLA EXPANSION PROJECT AND WHY FRIENDS OF TESLA ARE MISTAKEN

The issue with our opponents is not about the law – they lost their lawsuit. The issue is about credibility. Perhaps the person working on “The Friends of Tesla” website is being misled. I do believe that the truth is the victim here. Distorted facts are just the beginning.

Their analysis is part of a plan to brainwash its readers – maybe that is the reason that Carnegie got hundreds of out of state comments opposing opening Tesla for OHV use.  How many of the negative commenters ever visited our park? Did they get all their information over the internet? Do they go to other sites to get a different view or are they the hard core dirt bike haters?

These “facts“’ go to newspapers and radio stations where reporters take what is told to them by Friends of Tesla at face value without doing any fact checking. What ever happened to investigative reporting? Let’s look their contentions one by one.

1. OHV Users Did Not Pay For Tesla Park

The first assault is on our independent funding because they know that if they attack the way our parks are funded they can get control of our park. They only need to say that that the park is a valuable resource which needs to be protected. They conveniently ignore (or are ignorant of) the fact that the law requires that the Division of Off-Highway vehicle Recreation protect cultural and natural resources in state OHV parks.

According to their theory the majority of the fuel tax transfers to the OHV Trust Fund are not attributable to OHV use like that which occurs at Carnegie SVRA.  Their authority for this statement is Karen Schambach who contributed a post to their website called the “Truth About OHV Funding”.  This is hardly an unbiased neutral document written by an authority on California Tax Revenue. Karen has devoted a good part of her life to opposing off road recreation in California. One can hardly expect an impartial analysis coming from a true believer. This should be a no brainer.

Fuel taxes do not go into the general fund like state income taxes and sales taxes (where they get the funding for the 272 non-OHV parks controlled by California Parks and Recreation). Instead, they go into the Aeronautics Account, Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund, Department of Food and Agriculture Fund, Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund and what is left over is transferred into the Highway Users Tax Account.

Here get this… “The general outdoor non-OHV recreation public that purchases gas in California paid for about 55% of Tesla Park through fuel taxes” What? We are not part of the “general recreation public”. I guess they say that because we  have to pay for our own OHV parks as well as the other non-OHV parks. She does not get it.

Carnegie SVRA, including the properties acquired from Dennis Gibbs and Tesla Ranch, was paid for entirely by funds from the OHV Trust Fund.  Regardless of their desire, you can’t change history.

Percentages of gas tax that are transferred to the OHV Trust Fund are determined by the budget negotiations and complex formulas that were previously established by gas tax studies.  During negotiations for the most recent sunset legislation the Governor and Legislature decided to set the funding level as a baseline, rather than needing to continue the gas tax studies to make the determination

Precise calculations are used based on specific enumerated factors to estimate the amount of fuel tax transferred to the OHV trust fund. The law is the law and it is time they accepted it rather than trying to change it by osmosis..

They purchase fuel for their cars. The fuel tax they pay goes into the Streets and Highways Trust Fund. How does that go to pay for Tesla unless they intend to develop it?

2.    Tesla Park is not owned by the OHVR Division but it is owned by California Department of Parks and Recreation and they should take over Tesla for “the general non-OHV Recreation Public”

This is a no-brainer. It is true that “property title on deeds and public records for the Tesla Park land show that the property is held by the “State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation” (California State Parks).  All properties owned by California State Parks are listed the same way.  To do otherwise would create confusion

According to the OHVR Division’s (the Division’s) website:  “At the inception of the OHMVR Program, it was deemed to be inefficient to replicate completely separate, common administrative functions such as human resources, accounting, contracting, legal service, and budgeting functions. The Division relies on many of these services being performed by California State Parks.”

California State Parks used money from the OHV trust fund to purchase the property to expand Carnegie for OHV Recreation. This was done pursuant to an appropriation in the state budget to purchase the land to expand Carnegie for OHV recreation. It was passed by both houses of the state legislature and signed by the governor.

The law is the law.

3.    Tesla Park was not bought with OHMVR Funds and does not have to be used for OHV

This one is a whopper. It is claimed that because OHV trust fund money can be used for off road access for non-OHV recreation then off road access to non-OHV recreation is the only appropriate use for Tesla.

In 2008 the legislature amended the Public Resources Code and the Revenue and Taxation Code to give OHV trust fund money in the form of grants and cooperative agreements for off road access for non-OHV recreation. This change is a result of a 2006 survey of fuel tax funding for the OHV trust fund which found that that some Californians drove their four wheel and two wheel drive vehicles off road to get to other non-OHV recreational activities like fishing and hunting.

Does this mean that they are unclear of the meaning of Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area?  Do they have to have it spelled out for them?  I don’t see how it could be much clearer.

Then there is this whopper contained in their website!

“One of the major failures of the OHMVR Division, as explained by former Deputy Director Daphne Green in her interview with the Attorney General as part of the 2012 State Parks Department secret fund investigation, was the Division’s acquisition or planned acquisition of property which was not suitable for OHV use. Tesla Park was not appropriate for OHV when it was purchased in 1996 and 1998.” See: http://resources.ca.gov/docs/parks_ag_investigation/Green_Daphne_Interview_9_27_12.pdf.pdf

I guess they were misled and never read the manuscript for themselves. It says nothing about Tesla. It describes two parks; one in Riverside County and one in Kern County, which were considered for purchase and then deemed inappropriate for OHV use and the land was never bought. You can read it. It is not complicated.

Then there is another whopper that they like to espouse!

“Had the OHMVR Division completed necessary due diligence before the purchase as required by law, the sensitive natural and historic/cultural resources in Tesla Park would have been identified and Tesla Park would never have been purchased for expansion of Carnegie SVRA.”

Except that the park did do due diligence and contacted all the adjoining landowners to make sure there were no objections. And neither Connolly nor his wife, Celeste Garamendi, raised their voices to object to the purchase at that time. They waited until long after the property was bought to complain

Mark Connolly made no comments about the purchases because he negotiated an agreement with Dennis Gibbs.  At the time Gibbs was trying to subdivide the property into 80 acre parcels and sell as individual home sites.  Gibbs also started negotiating with the State for purchase.  In exchange for a non-exclusive easement crossing the Gibbs ranch, Connolly agreed to drop any opposition to either of the plans that were being considered by Gibbs.

Statements made in item 3 on their website are not relevant.  Environmental review at the time of the purchases conformed to the standard at the time.  If the purchase were happening today it would conform to the current standard.  Again, they are attempting to rewrite history.

4.     The Carnegie SVRA and Tesla Park land has a lot of valuable uses that makes it inappropriate for OHV use.

They say that the land is appropriate for cattle grazing which is what is done on the surrounding acres. Where I ride my mountain bike in East Bay Regional District Parks, the parkland is leased out to cattle ranchers. Some off road vehicle parks in other parts of the country are also used for cattle grazing. Off road vehicles are not incompatible with cattle.

Not mentioned is the Connolly/Garamendi nine thousand acre cattle ranch next door. Their ranch bordering on our OHV Park would itself be of rich biological and cultural value if it were not used for cattle ranching. Connolly also charges $10,000 to hunt and kill elk on their property (which he manages for Fish and Game).

It is common knowledge that cattle ranching results in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity. Cattle ranching is also a major source of land degradation and water pollution. We have photographs of Connolly’s cattle standing in the creek and doing their business (pathogens).

According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It accounts for 65 percent of nitrous oxide release as well as large amounts of methane, both far more potent than carbon dioxide

Cattle ranching can destroy biodiversity, erode hillsides and trample cultural artifacts.

Let’s call a spade a spade; livestock production is far more damaging than a few dirt trails winding through the hills on trails designed to avoid cultural and biological treasures.

Then of course these people contend that Tesla Park and the Corral Hollow Canyon have been long known for their historic significance, including the historic Carnegie and Tesla mining district.

The truth is that there were no coal mines on Carnegie only a brick factory where the kilns used locally produced coal and dumped the toxic ashes nearby when it was time to clean out the furnace.

Abandoned coal mines pose serious threats to public health, safety and welfare and degrade the environment. The coal mines and slag heaps along Corral Hollow Creek have never been cleaned up and pose a much bigger threat to the environment than a few off road trails.

The coal mines that once existed in this area are hardly unique. Coal is the major source of energy in the world today – it is also the dirtiest.

5.    Although Carnegie was a private off road Motorcycle Park before it was bought by the state in 1979, because of increased use, increased environmental destruction occurred under the state’s ownership.

Holy Moly. They take away our riding areas and the ones left over get increased use. Who would have ever guessed? And their answer to this problem is closing down another OHV park?

And of course what they describe as environmental destruction a far cry from real environmental destruction. It is a few trails winding through the grass and some fun hill climbs. The really nasty looking scared areas (nasty looking to them) are being restored. The restoration work takes place in the rainy season where plant life can take hold. It is an ongoing project to repair damage that was done years ago before sustainable soil standards were adopted and monitored.

They also like to leave out the fact that the state monitors soil conservation standards and wildlife habitat and closes areas that don’t meet very vigorous standards. The state also protects cultural artifacts located in Carnegie. This is all done in conformity to state law. If Friends of Tesla rode in Carnegie they would see all the new fencing that has gone up – starting years before the lawsuit was filed.

6.    Carnegie SVRA and Tesla Park are located in inappropriate terrain for an off-highway motor vehicle park.

Their argument is that the steep canyons are inappropriate for off road vehicles because the erosion caused by OHV activity goes into sediment ponds which are incapable of catching all the sediment. I don’t know where they have been living in the past few years but I have not seen one single trickle of water in Corral Hollow Creek where it flows through Carnegie for over two years. I ride there almost every weekend. The sediment ponds can hardly be described as overflowing.

Because of the geologic conditions in the area erosion will occur when it rains regardless of off road vehicular activity. The canyon is a result of eons of erosion filling the canyon up to its current dimensions.  I don’t know how deep the original canyon is but I would estimate that it is hundreds, if not thousands, of feet deep.

They once mined magnesium, clay and sand at Carnegie. There was a sandpit in the canyon.

Soil conservation standards and wildlife habitat protections are responsible for curtailing erosion that might otherwise be caused by off road vehicles playing in the hills.

We are not adding to the erosion that would naturally occur in this region and any erosion that does take place does not get into Corral Hollow Creek. The silt ponds take care of any erosion – natural or otherwise. .

Corral Hollow Creek has not run into the Delta since the floods in the early part of the twentieth century which wiped away most of the infrastructure including the railways that transported the coal to Stockton. The stream if it trickles through Carnegie at all is absorbed into the flood plain and then evaporates out in the summer.

7.    Carnegie SVRA has not changed since the lawsuit was filed and is still operating inappropriately.

My only comment here is that someone has not being paying attention to what happened in the lawsuit. It sounds like they are not happy with the result and want to litigate it all over again.

In the beginning it looked like they were going to get their way and the judge closed Carnegie to off road vehicles until water quality standards could be met – based on a flawed study which was done by experts that the petitioners had hired. Then the court’s decision was appealed. The appellate court told the lower court that the state water department had jurisdiction over water quality issues.

The petitioners were referred to the state water quality board who had been working with Carnegie staff on water quality issues for years. They continued to work with the Water Board preparing the appropriate studies and then came up with a Storm Management Plan for Carnegie in order to receive a Small MS4 permit. A Clean Up and Abatement Order was later incorporated into an amended Storm Management Plan due to changes in the law that had been incorporated in the meantime.

Reference to the Cleanup and Abatement Order (CAO) are deliberately misleading.  The State Water Board allowed the MS4 permit to expire in 2008.  They allowed the Regional Boards to continue issuing permits based on the expired program when there was no controversy expected.  In this case the staff met with the regional board and they decided to use the CAO process to issue the permit on a temporary basis.  This was not a punitive action, as the Friends of Tesla attempts to portray.

The parties negotiated a settlement based on the permit issued by the Water Board.  In effect Carnegie is working to implement the Carnegie Storm Abatement Plan and the allegations in their website are just a recycling of the allegations contained in their failed lawsuit. They are dissatisfied losers.

8.    The pollution at Carnegie SVRA is not caused by the historic Tesla coal mine and Hetch Hetchy tunnel which are up stream of Carnegie SVRA but by OHV activity which was proved by the expert they hired to win the lawsuit.

The expert the Petitioners (the parties that brought the lawsuit) hired found that water entering Carnegie was not contaminated and that water quality problems in Corral Hollow Creek were caused by off road vehicular recreation. He also found increased turbidity from when it flowed into Carnegie until it flowed out of Carnegie. The conclusion drawn from this one sided study is that pollution cannot be caused by upstream sources and had to be caused by bikes riding in the hills at the time he was taking his samples. See: https://carnegiejournal.com/2011/04/19/29/

Any attorney worth his or her salt would hire an expert ready to testify to facts that help his or her client win their case. In fact, in California a lot of civil trials turn into a contest of which expert the jury believes. We collected samples and looked at turbidity (the amount of suspended solids in liquid) in the water entering Carnegie and in water exiting Carnegie. There was more sedimentation in the water entering Carnegie.

Anyway; they did not win the lawsuit. Come on… They can do better than that.

9.    Carnegie uses threats of trespass as justification for OHV use at Tesla and damage to a sensitive natural and historic/cultural area that should be managed as a natural and cultural preserve.

How does Friends of Tesla come up with this stuff? I have never heard Carnegie staff –even on their website – use threats of trespass as justification for opening Tesla for off road recreation. The main justification for opening up Tesla for off road use is the need to expand Carnegie because we need more trails.

Friends of Tesla may have gotten that impression by reading parts of the Public Resources Code:  “The Legislature finds that off-highway motor vehicles are enjoying an ever-increasing popularity in California and that the indiscriminate and uncontrolled use of those vehicles may have a deleterious impact on the environment…” This is the justification given by the legislature for creating effectively managed areas for OHV recreation to protect the environment and maintain sustained term use.

Since the creation of state OHV facilities trespass is no longer a problem now that we have legal places to ride. However that does not prevent Friends of Tesla from blaming the OHMVR Division for failure to enforce laws at Carnegie SVRA and properly managing the park. How is this related to trespass or the threat of trespass?

Friends of Tesla contend that Tesla should be managed as a natural and cultural preserve. However, the Public Resources Code says that in California land acquired for OHV use cannot be set aside as a preserve or as a wilderness area. That would defeat the purpose of providing OHV recreation on public land purchased for that purpose.

10. OHV use remains among the least important outdoor recreation uses for California residents when compared with other non-OHV outdoor recreation uses.

 According to our opponents cursory look at the findings of a state survey OHV use remains a relatively small proportion of total outdoor recreation demand in California.  Based on the 2009 California State Parks Department study, and consistent with prior year’s studies, our opponents found that  OHV use remains among the least important outdoor recreation uses for California residents when compared with other non-OHV outdoor recreation uses. See: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/795/files/2009%20spoa%20complete%20findings%209_28_09.pdf

However in my reading of the 2009 Survey on Public Opinions and Attitudes on Outdoor Recreation in California (SPOA); I concluded that OHV use is indeed quite popular.

In the top 20 recreational activities that Californians would like to participate in more often: OHV recreation was more popular than swimming, outdoor photography, wildlife viewing, jogging fishing, paddling and backpacking sports. See: http://carnegieforever.org/?s=ohv+is+more+popular+than+fishing (see also SPOA page 31,Table 25)

Out of seven California districts where surveys were taken; in four of the districts OHV is in the top 10 of 40 different preferred activities. In the Central Valley OHV was the fourth most preferred activity. In Southern California OHV was the third most preferred activity and in San Francisco OHV was seventh most preferred activity. Remember that is out of forty different activities which includes activities that we all enjoy such as picnicking and walking. (pages 159 -160, Table 140 (a))

It was also noted in the 2009 survey that in the Central Valley; although only 15% of residents participated in OHV recreation, a full 50% of respondents wanted to partake in OHV recreation more often. This is more than most other activities except things like bicycling on paved surfaces (51%), walking for fitness and pleasure (52.5%) and camping (55%) These are activities that we all enjoy. (pages 159 -160, Table 140(a)).

Under “Activities Youth Respondents Would Like to Participate in More Often” 43% of young people said that they would like to participate in OHV activities more often. OHV was the 8th most popular activity for kids out of over forty activities. This shows a glaring need that isn’t being met (pages 109-110 Table 74).

So even though OHV recreation is relatively popular in California, that doesn’t mean that if it were less popular, OHV users needs should be ignored especially when they pay fees and taxes to support their favorite activity as well as paying general taxes that support other (non-OHV) parks.. What that is called is tyranny of the majority.

11. Rather than operate Carnegie SVRA in a sustainable manner, the response by the OHMVR Division is that they need to expand Carnegie SVRA into the virgin Tesla Park land.

This argument is predicated on the fact that Carnegie is not being operated in a sustainable manner (where they have not enforced laws on where users can ride or maintain sustainable trails). I thought that the law suit was settled. These allegations are just a rehashing of allegations in the lawsuit where a stipulated settlement concluded that so long as Carnegie was implementing the Carnegie Storm Management Plan the park was being operated on a sustainable manner in compliance with the Public Resources Code.

I ride Carnegie almost every weekend and from a rider’s viewpoint they are definitely restricting where we can ride. A lot of the old trails are off limits now. They keep putting up new fencing. They are maintaining the trails (when conditions permit) in the way that is required pursuant to the Carnegie Storm Management Plan.

Friends of Tesla also claim that Carnegie has not applied reasonable capacity limitations on the number of users let into the park. Their conclusion is that the land is overburdened and the only reason we want to open Tesla is to take the strain off Carnegie. From a rider’s perspective that is patently false. I seldom see other riders as I ride through the park. The new highly maintained two way trails would be very dangerous if Carnegie was being run outside of reasonable capacity limitations. I have not found that to be the case even in the winter time when there are more people riding on the trails.

We need Tesla because although there are about fifteen hundred acres all together in Carnegie, we only have about one thousand acres where we can ride because of all the closures. The reason we want to open Tesla is because we would like more trails. This is especially true for four wheelers who have very limited space where they are permitted to ride at Carnegie.

Tesla Park is hardly a virgin park. There are still talus piles from the coal mines that used to operate there. There are trails that wind through the hills where the coal was once mined and transported. There are foundations of buildings that once housed laborers who worked in the mines. There are eroded hillsides near where the town used to exist. How is that virgin?

The wildlife and flora is similar to species found throughout the eastern flanks of the Coast Range in Alameda and San Joachim counties. In fact these species are protected within Carnegie SVRA and are not unique to Tesla Park.

And get this:

“ All parks have limits. Two-cycle jet skis have been banned from Lake Tahoe because of unacceptable impacts on water and air quality. Hiking and camping in wilderness areas is limited by permit so as not to over-burden pristine natural resources.  Camping sites require reservations. Hunting tags for many types of game are limited.  SVRAs and OHV use is no different. SVRAs must operate within limits and cannot expand into areas that are unsuitable for OHV use just because users want more riding areas.”

Carnegie is one of only 8 State Vehicular Recreation Areas in California where we can ride our OHVs legally. We are not one of the 272 other state parks (non-OHV parks) where we can’t ride our OHVs. We are not a Wilderness area. We don’t kill wild animals (we leave that to our neighbors). And so the point is?

From where I live in the Bay Area there are hiking and biking trails within a five minute walk from my house. They go all the way from Richmond to Castro Valley. Within a ten minute drive from my house there are at least five golf courses –where water and chemicals are applied and where native fauna is replaced by European grasses. But to go to the closest place where I can legally ride my dirt bike I have to drive sixty miles which is an hour and a half drive. I think that represents reasonable limitations.

12. Carnegie SVRA does not have approval to expand into Tesla Park.

Right and that is why we are trying to get an Environmental Impact Report. They admit the Draft EIR is expected to be issued in summer 2013. Again this seems pretty lame. We don’t have an EIR yet (after 15 years) and so we will never get permission and should give up. In their dreams…

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6 Responses to THE ALAMEDA/TESLA EXPANSION PROJECT AND WHY FRIENDS OF TESLA ARE MISTAKEN

  1. Ken Clarke says:

    Very good rebuttal to the lies of The Friends of Tesla! The one thing you have left out is the other side of OHV recreation such as SUV’s, 4×4, Dune Buggies & Side x Sides. The is very little space for these types of OHV’s at Carnegie, the closest opportunity for this type of OHV’s would be Hollister. The expansion of Carnegie will allow for all OHV’s to recreate close to the east bay.

  2. Kevin Moore says:

    “Tesla Park” is the biggest whopper! It was never a park! This is used to confuse people into thinking the once coal mining area, then cattle range, now OHV recreation area was ever a park.

  3. Kevin Moore says:

    Here are numerous links to Tesla area of the Carnegie OHV area.

    MTBR conversation with links.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/california-norcal/what-going-tesla-property-814879.html

    Tesla, California – nonpartison historical look
    http://www.teslacoalmines.org/Tesla.html

    Tesla location – Tesla Coal Mine (Corral Hollow)
    http://wikimapia.org/1787312/Tesla-Coal-Mine-Corral-Hollow

    A look at the cattle ranch across the highway. Look for numerous cattle trails and creek dam.
    I like ranchers. Not to happy with the Carnegie neighbors that pretend like OHV use impact is greater than their area impact.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Tesla+Road,+Livermore,+CA&hl=en&ll=37.644944,-121.577663&spn=0.003254,0.006877&sll=37.269174,-119.306607&sspn=13.38188,28.168945&oq=tesla+road&t=h&hnear=Tesla+Rd,+Livermore,+Alameda,+California+94550&z=18

    Come shoot an elk at the neighbors ranch for $11,000
    I have no problems with hunting. Just don’t let the neighbors think they are “peace-niks”.
    http://www.mumwildlife.com/Connolly_Ranch.html

  4. Diana Mead says:

    Thorough and well written. Thank you,

  5. Oldman says:

    Excellent article. It takes their arguments point by point and presents the facts that counter their position. But, just as in past OHV issues, the OHV community is reacting to their offense. Until we go on the offensive, they will set the tone and the message. The rebuttals usually draw less press and therefore both sides of the story are never heard.

    Until the OHV community goes on the offensive and we control the message, we will continue to be at a disadvantage. We need to contact the press and give them this information that exposes the blatant attempt to sway uninformed public opinion by the use of selective misinformation. We need to raise doubt in the public’s mind that when the green message makes news, the public realizes that they are only hearing one biased side of the story.

    This article provides the detailed information that can (hopefully) open the eyes of the uninvolved public so that they don’t blindly support something that sounds bad but really isn’t.

    We have to take the battle to them or we will continue to loose land and call it a victory when we only loose 50% of what they were trying to take away. After about four cycles of these kind of “victories”, we won’t have anywhere to ride and will be overcrowded where we can ride.

    Good luck and tear ’em up.

  6. Oldman says:

    How to take the battle to them?

    The media, TV or print, loves controversy. Keep that in mind. That may be the reason for them to listen our side of the story.

    * Provide the media with a copy of this article or link this article in a letter to the editor. They might just print it.

    *Invite the media personally to these meetings where they can hear both sides of the story- not the just the talking points of our opposition.

    *Make mention to your media contact (personal or letters to the editor) that it seems like the media is being used as a tool by our opposition. Perhaps they will respond in an effort to show they can be balanced.

    *Talk to TV investigative reporters and stress how one sided the message has been to date. The media doesn’t have to take a side- just provide info so the public will see the media as fair and will let the public decide.

    *Paint the opposition as private parties pushing their own special interests at the expense of state $ and manipulating laws by using frivolous and unwarranted litigation and then ignoring rulings not in their favor.

    *Ask property owners among the opposition if they have opened their own land to the public for the same use that they want our land to be used for. It will show their actions as self centered and not really for the good of the public.

    *Ask board members and the public if you would want your next door neighbor telling you how to use your property. Even when you are complying with all laws and zoning requirements? Why should that happen here when it doesn’t happen in their own neighborhood?

    *Use the Garamendi link. They manage to work it in their position statements. We could point out that a certain member of the Garamendi family doesn’t play by the rules and ignores court decisions made against their position. Create some internal pressure.

    Just some thoughts. Some workable, some perhaps not. But it allows us to control the message.

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