The recent legislative winning streak of first-year Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) came to an end last week when Gov. Gavin Newsom declined to sign Assembly Bill 1086, which proposed giving the state the option of selling a piece of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) located southeast of Livermore to either a local government or nonprofit entity for conservation purposes.
The bill, which was co-authored by State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), attempted to address an ongoing battle for nearly two decades between the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division and State Parks and local environmental advocates concerning off-highway expansion plans. Sales proceeds would have been mandatorily deposited in an Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division Trust Fund for future use at other sites identified as more appropriate for off-roading activities.
In a statement this weekend, Bauer-Kahan said she was “extremely disappointed” by Newsom’s veto of AB 1086, which “was crafted to be permissive” by not requiring a sale of the land.
“We have seen a huge decline in use of the current off-highway vehicle park, and after 20 years of litigation and non-use of the expansion area, there proves to be no need to see this land decimated,” Bauer-Kahan said. “Instead we will continue to see money wasted with state resources drained into endless litigation, and this biological treasure left open to future abuse.”
Newsom said in a veto message that there was no reason to sign the bill because the state has been doing its job just fine. “There is no evidence that the department has failed to conduct sufficient study of this property or is mismanaging this state resource,” Newsom said. “The park was purchased for the benefit of all Californians and should remain a state park.”
Glazer and his staff could not be reached for comment as of press time, but Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, stated that Newsom “missed an opportunity to help solve a long-festering problem.”
“The Tesla area has been closed for decades because it is not suitable for off-highway use and has been embroiled in legal and other challenges,” Phillips said. “At a time when Californians are asking for more places close by where they can hike and enjoy nature away from the sounds of motorized vehicles, it’s hard to understand why the governor has vetoed this bill.”