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Old    CAwakesk8r (hatepwcs)      Join Date: Mar 2002       08-28-2003, 9:55 AM Reply   
8/28/2003
Patti Rasmussen [Signal Staff Writer]



In the continuing game of political hot potato over the maintenance of the Castaic Lake State Recreational Area, California’s attorney general has issued a strong warning to the county: If the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation breaks its 50-year contract and walks away from its responsibility to maintain the facility, it could result in a lawsuit.
County officials have told the state they no longer have the money to maintain the facility and will walk away from it on Sept. 7.
Deputy Attorney General Todd Valdes wrote in an Aug. 22 letter to county attorney Helen Parker that any failure on the part of the county to perform under the agreement, signed by the county in 1969, would be “improper (and) constitute a material breach of the operating agreement,” in addition to harming the public and exposing the county to liability.
The letter also states that since the county collects all fees for service at the lake, rates could be raised to make up for revenue shortfalls.
The lake was on the county budget-cut list and scheduled to close on Labor Day. But Los County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich designated $50,000 from his discretionary funds to keep the facility open another week.
Officials from both the state and county parks departments met last week with local residents at a Castaic Area Town Council meeting. Both agencies claimed they would not accept responsibility for the lake.
Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, has been vocal about the need to keep the lake open, and for the county to honor its contract obligations.
He said many people at the state level are displeased with the county’s decision to abandon the lake.
“Castaic Lake is not only a valuable recreational resource for the community, it is an economic engine for the surrounding area,” Richman said. “It is critical for the state, county, (Castaic) Town Council and the city of Santa Clarita to work together to ensure that the lake remain open.”
Town Council President Bob Lewis said the council is open to meeting with anyone.
“That was the whole purpose of the Town Council meeting last week,” he said. “We will go anywhere and meet with anybody to keep the lake open.”
No one from the county attorney’s office or the state attorney general’s office returned phone calls. Antonovich was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Old    chuck kober (onealrep)      Join Date: May 2002       08-28-2003, 10:15 AM Reply   
Kinda good news I suppose, at least someone is taking a stand.

Here's hoping that if this does end up in the courts, that the gates aren't locked pending the outcome. Court cases aren't exactly speedy, it could be in court for years.
Old    Jonathan French (rock_n_boardin)      Join Date: May 2003       08-28-2003, 10:22 AM Reply   
Lame thing is they will spend millions fighting the lawsuit. When obviously they could use the money to keep it open.

“improper (and) constitute a material breach of the operating agreement,” in addition to harming the public and exposing the county to liability."

Or when the lose the lawsuit there mignt be damages that add up to a lot more too. Duuuhhhh Spend a twenty to save a dollar, figures.
Old    Flux (flux)      Join Date: Jun 2003       08-28-2003, 10:22 AM Reply   
Good stuff Chris. For those of us who boat in Northern LA County, this is huge. Essentially, we lose the largest of the three lakes in the area. In the big picture, it's just another small decline of the quality of life in LA County.

Hopefully Valdes & Richman will continue to pressure the county to keep this lake open. The revenue shortfalls could be lessened by not only raising the gate fee, but by adding a campground and marina/store as well. I have been to several lakes in Kern County that have campgrounds and marinas and they are fun places to spend a weekend messing around on the lake. We always end up filling our tank at least once in the Marina.

There must be a precedence for keeping a lake financially stable. Kern Co. manages to do it, why can't LA County??
Old    Jason (jonori)      Join Date: Oct 2001       08-28-2003, 11:11 AM Reply   
Not that I want them to raise the fees or anything, but their pricing structure is a lot different from other facilities. For example, I spent the last four years riding at Lake San Vicente in San Diego, CA. They sold no yearly passes. They charge $5 per car, $5 per boat, and $5 per person per day if you are going to wakeboard. They also charge $10 per 4 hour pass to the ski/wakeboard course, where they sell 12 or 24 of those a day (I think they may have added a course since I left). So on an average day, I was dropping at least $15 to $20. I felt that was a fair price because I didn't really have a choice. On top of that, they sold beer for I think $3 per can, bait for the fisherman, and snacks.

At Castaic it is much different. I bought a yearly pass for my vehicle for $90. I will go to the lake, on average 2 days per week for the entire year. That's a wopping $.86 per day. The yearly pass on the boat is about the same, $90 per year. So an avid boarder, or fisherman for that matter, is paying about $1.72 per trip, vs. $15 at San Vicente. That doesn't even take into consideration that that $1.72 included me and a crew of 4 other people. So you are really talking about $.34 each for a crew of 5 that go twice a week to Castaic vs $7 each for a crew of 5 to go to San Vicente. If you want to add the use of the cove, Castic riders are paying $.94 each time out, while San V riders are paying $9 each time out.

Another issue is that Castaic allows no Alcohol (which is a county rule I believe) and they do not have a store for snacks and such.

Like I said, I don't want them to raise the prices, but I would rather pay more than to have them shut the lake down.

(Message edited by jonori on August 28, 2003)
Old    Flux (flux)      Join Date: Jun 2003       08-28-2003, 1:05 PM Reply   
A good analysis Jason. I think 5 bucks for each car, each boat, and each person is not too bad. So a group of 4 riders needs about 7.50 a piece to get on the lake.

How about 50 or so campsites at 20 or 25 bucks a night. Lot's of lakes do it and they make a friggin killing on the weekends. Give campers first shot at the lake in the morning. Open a little store and marina with not so cheap gas and make some coin to support the lake.

There needs to be a balance between a virtually free lake run on tax dollars, and a recreation area run a little bit more like a business. It seems fair.
Old    Joe Balint (supersport)      Join Date: Dec 2001       08-28-2003, 2:55 PM Reply   
Raise the access rates. The county can even allow some wakeboarding/water skiing events on the lower lake and add more revenue. That lake is mis-managed!
Good take Jason.

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