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Puzzling Approach to Park Fees

September 27, 1987

One of the more puzzling approaches government is fond of using to justify imposing taxes or fees is to cite what other taxing agencies charge for similar public services.

Orange County's Environmental Management Agency used that bureaucratic rationale when it presented a plan to the county Harbor, Beaches and Parks Commission to increase fees at county parks. If approved, the increases would treble the cost of an annual park pass for senior citizens and handicapped visitors and raise the daily rate from $1.25 to $2 by 1989.

To justify the proposed increases, the EMA said park fees would still be less than those charged by the state and neighboring counties. It could be that the others are less efficient in running their parks. If that's the case, why compare rates with them and use their fees to support an increase here?

We agree with Commission Chairman Sally White who doesn't think that the county should be competing in raising fees if it can hold the line. Higher park fees hurt too many people, like senior citizens, teen-agers and young families with tight budgets who rely on public parks for low-cost recreation.

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