Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


Cody Nesper


This Comment posits that parks that serve urban communities, such as the SF Bay Area state parks, are of particular importance due to the implications of open spaces for the health and well-being city dwellers. The consequences of legislation like AB 42 in urban environments are different from those in rural areas, and an awareness of these differences is necessary to draft effective legislation. For instance, parks serving urban areas frequently give rise to environmental justice concerns of wealth and poverty as reflected by extensive, well-appointed parks in more affluent communities compared to neighboring communities with less social and economic capital. Moreover, for those who live in urban centers or surrounding metropolitan areas, access to open space and nature is more restricted compared to those living in rural areas; parks, therefore, take on greater significance in urban contexts. For these reasons, this Comment will be focused on a discussion of parks in and around the SF Bay Area and how AB 42 might affect these parks.

Part II provides an overview of the practical and theoretical context that led to AB 42 and the landscape into which the new law enters. This Part presents a brief survey of current thinking surrounding public land and its management, explores the particulars of AB 42, and provides a survey of SF Bay Area state park units and nonprofits that are likely to be affected by AB 42.

Part III explores some of the possible pitfalls of AB 42. Part IV suggests ways in which the law might be improved and contends that partnerships with private nonprofits, on their own, will never be sufficient to sustain California’s state parks. Part V looks beyond AB 42 toward other solutions for California’s state park funding. Finally, the Conclusion urges the reader to closely monitor the successes and failures of AB 42 to better inform decisions to renew, repeal, or amend the law, and to reaffirm California’s commitment to an outstanding state parks system.