SACRAMENTO — A $48.2-million "pork barrel" package, agreed to by the governor and legislative leaders, restores a healthy chunk of last-minute money for San Diego County park projects originally dropped from the state budget.
San Diego County projects account for $8.6 million of the entire package and include money for major public acquisitions of land ranging in or near the Otay River Valley in the South Bay, the popular Old Town State Park and the Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve in North County.
The entire package, amended into legislation on the Senate floor late Wednesday and expected to be approved by the Assembly tonight, is the product of two months of negotiations among Democratic and Republican leaders and Gov. George Deukmejian's staff.
Basic Accord Noted
Kevin Brett, the governor's press secretary, confirmed that "there is a basic agreement between the governor's office and the legislative leadership" to set aside funds for projects, many of which Deukmejian vetoed in July from the state budget.
In his budget veto message, the governor indicated that he objected to the fact that many of the projects "were inserted into the budget at the last minute and hadn't been reviewed by the state Department of Parks and Recreation."
Brett said the review is now taking place and cautioned that some of the projects still could be deleted from the bill.
In recent years, it has become a tradition of sorts for similar legislation, also known around the Capitol as a "Christmas tree" bill, to be cobbled together in the final weeks of the session. Such bills allow the state's 120 lawmakers to cite specific projects that they won for their constituents back home.
The $48.2 million was split four ways among the Democratic and Republican caucuses of each house, according to legislative staffers close to the negotiations. The funds are from a variety of sources, including the new Proposition 99 cigarette tax revenues, highway funds, the Proposition 70 park bond of 1988 and park bonds from earlier years.
Large Chunk for Old Town
San Diego's slice is a considerable one and restores many pet projects that Deukmejian had axed from the budget. They include:
- $2.75 million to buy the Bohannon Pottery Village near the Old Town State Park. The 1.5 acres, situated between a parking structure and the park, have been sought by Assemblywoman Lucy Killea (D-San Diego) to serve as an entry to the popular tourist spot. If the state had not come up with the money for the village this year, its owner would have proceeded to build a hotel on the property, Killea staffers said.
- An additional $135,000 to build more comfort stations at Old Town.
- $1.5 million to buy and preserve as an open-space park in the Otay River Valley, an area that stretches 11 miles from Otay Lakes to the southern end of the San Diego Bay. The park is expected to have equestrian and hiking trails.
- $1 million to develop 25 acres along Mission Bay's southern shore. This development, the first of an expected 102-acre parcel, is intended to take the pressure off other parts of one of San Diego's prime tourist attractions, which draws an estimated 15.5 million people a year.
- $900,000 to build a ranger's station and visitors center in the Mission Trails Regional Park.
- $1.8 million to buy 2.15 acres near Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve. The scenic property, known as Sunset Del Mar and openly coveted by environmentalists, is owned by former San Diego Charger Lance Alworth and sits between Camino del Mar and Carmel Valley Road.
- $300,000 to build a 1/3-mile extension of a seawall near the Agua Hediona Lagoon in Carlsbad.
- $50,000 to help develop and build the San Diego Filipino Center in National City.
- $100,000 for the San Diego Railroad Museum in Campo.
- $75,000 to fund the San Diego Bay Interagency Panel, a multiagency group convened to solve the problem of contamination in the waterway.
Besides the San Diego projects, one potentially controversial provision addresses the dispute over how to preserve the rare spotted owl and other wildlife without putting loggers out of business.
The proposal provides about $400,000 for a task force to study the impact of cutting timber on the habitat of wildlife, including the spotted owl. Supporters expect the funds to be repaid partly by timber companies, which would use the data to develop plans for logging.
Other big winners in the package are three new museums. The proposal earmarks $300,000 in seed money for a proposed Latino History Museum in the Los Angeles area, which would serve as a showcase for the history, culture and contributions of Latinos in California.
The package also sets aside $200,000 for a Northern California Afro-American Museum and $1 million for an agriculture museum at California State University, Fresno. Another $1.1 million would be for preliminary plans for the California Citrus State Historic Park in the Riverside area.
The lion's share of the money in the legislation is for public-works projects, including grants to cities for parks.