I was in discussions with California State Parks over the last few days. Given that their new earmarked funding source was defeated in the last election, they are facing cuts next year. A number of parks will again face closure. As I have many times, I said that I could easily keep many of these parks open under our operations using only the gate fees and no public subsidies.
For the first time, someone explained to me why they could not entertain my proposal. It is illegal in California to replace any function performed by a public employee with a private contractor. The only way they could consider private operation of a park is to allow it to close, lay everyone off, let it sit closed to the public for a while, and then possibly reopen it with private management. And even that approach will likely be challenged in the court. The public employees unions are committed to allowing parks to permanently close rather than establish the precedent of private management.
More on public-private partnerships in recreation and how private management of public recreation works, here.