At the last minute the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on May 22, 2014 came up with an agenda that includes limiting the expansion of Off Highway Vehicle Parks and recalculating the amount of gas tax revenue used to fund off highway recreation.
The idea that they can sneak legislation limiting the use of the Alameda/Tesla Expansion to Carnegie SVRA in a budget bill is hitting the public below the belt. It is a retroactive law that cannot pass legal muster. This is another example of the hideous tactics used by the enemies of the Carnegie expansion in their never-ending attempts to take away the legitimate expansion to Carnegie SVRA .
To wit see page 3 which I have copied below in italics:
“3790 DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
VOTE-ONLY ISSUE 1: OFF ROAD HIGHWAY VEHICLES
The Subcommittee will consider limiting the expansion of Off Road Vehicle parks and recalculating the amount of gas tax revenues that should be used for that purpose.
Currently the Off Road Highway Vehicle Account has a balance of $43 million. Because this fund has such a large balance, there is pressure to acquire and expand existing off-road vehicle parks.
These parks are funded with a portion of the gasoline tax revenue that is attributed to the use of such fuels for off-road activities. However, the formula has not been re-evaluated in recent years.
The Subcommittee could consider adopting placeholder trailer bill language, which would do the following:
• Require Caltrans, in cooperation with the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Motor Vehicles, to study, and adjust if appropriate, the percent of Motor Vehicle Fuel Account being allocated to the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund, (as per Sec. 8352.6 of the Rev&Tax Code)
• Place a moratorium on any further acquisitions and/or expansions of State Vehicle Recreation Areas pending this adjustment.”
Placing a moratorium on already legitimately purchased expansions of State Vehicle Recreation Areas in Carnegie SVRA (and Octilla Wells SVRA) is not warranted by any future reallocation of fuel taxes allocated to the OHV Trust Fund. It is a retroactive and an illegal maneuver dreamed up by the enemies of the Alameda/Tesla Expansion of Carnegie (and the Octilla Wells expansion) who will stop at nothing to get their way.
In California State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRA) are run solely by The Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Division of State Parks (they are not State Parks). The SVRAs are financed by OHV riders with fuel tax money from gas used off road, registration fees and use fees which funds the OHV Trust Fund which finances the eight SVRAs in California.
The OHV Division is responsible for the planning, acquisition, development, and management of the eight State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRAs), and a statewide financial assistance program. OHV trust fund revenues support law enforcement, operations and management, education and safety, environmental protection, and repair and restoration and drawing up a new general plan.
Fuel taxes are generally collected at the refinery or terminal level and distributed to benefit the users of the fuel being taxed. They go into the Aeronautics Account, Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund, Department of Food and Agriculture Fund, Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund and Highway Users Tax Account.
Throughout the years the calculation for fuel used by off-highway vehicles has been adjusted to reflect changes in the popularity of off road recreation. These adjustments affect the amount of fuel tax money transferred to the OHV Trust Fund. The legislature makes periodic changes on how that amount is calculated.
When the Alameda/Tesla Expansion was purchased it was purchased with OHV Trust Fund money which partly consisted of fuel tax money transferred to the OHV trust fund carefully calibrated at the time to measure the portion of fuel used by off highway vehicles.
OHV Trust Fund money was appropriated by the legislature and given to California Department of Parks and Recreation to buy the Alameda/Tesla property to be run and maintained by the Division of OHV Recreation (The Division). The Alameda/Tesla Expansion is not just any old public state park. It is an expansion of Carnegie SVRA and belongs to the Division of OHV Recreation, not state parks which was only responsible for purchasing the land for the Division.
Recalculating the amount of fuel tax money transferred to the OHV Trust Fund should make no difference to property already legitimately purchased and appropriated for off road use. The Division has been drawing up a general plan for Carnegie and the Alameda/Tesla Expansion using public input and utilizing the best practices as set out in the Code to balance off road recreation with conservation and resource management.
Retroactivity in the law is the application of a given norm to events that took place before the law was approved. The courts are guided by the general principle of irretroactivity of law, which severely restricts this kind of ex-temporary application, i.e., placing a moratorium on legitimately obtained expansions of State Vehicle Recreation Areas pending a future fuel tax adjustment.
A moratorium on the proposed expansion is unnecessary because any intent to recalibrate the amount of fuel tax transferred to the OHV Trust Fund in the future does not affect property already legitimately purchased and appropriated for Off Highway Recreation.
In fact it is retroactive and is clearly an illegal maneuver to stop the ongoing general planning process leading to the adoption of an of an Environmental Impact Report and the opening of the Alameda/Tesla Expansion by the Division of Off Highway Recreation (same for Octilla Wells).
If you want to fight this proposed moratorium please contact the Sub Committee Members and Governor and complain this is punitive action targeted only against OHV recreation. Here is a link to members of the sub committee. Unfortunately they will only accept comments if you are in their district.
Also contact your state Senator and Assembly representatives. Send them this italicized provision of the budget amendment because most of them have no clue about what is going on.
It won’t take long but we have to stick together on this anonymous attempt to reallocate fuel tax and the related moratorium and don’t forget to vote in November. We have to support the organizations that are fighting for our rights outside of the public eye.