Yosemite National Park closed

Renee Lucas, a visitor from Indiana, takes a picture of a closed gate to Yosemite National Park. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times / October 2, 2013)

If a national park in California is closed, does it make a sound? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of howling going on in places like Yosemite these days from businesses that depend on tourism. And it’s beyond me why Sacramento is turning a deaf ear.

Everyone knows that Park Service employees have been furloughed during the government shutdown and so the national parks are closed. But on Thursday, the Interior Department offered a way out: It would reopen parks if states agreed to pick up the tab.

Utah jumped at the chance. But California? It has decided to give its businesses the cold shoulder.

Here’s from my colleagues Melanie Mason and Hugo Martín:

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for California’s Department of Finance, said “the state has no plans to front general funds in order to reopen national parks.”

“While our budget is balanced, it is balanced by a narrow margin. There are a number of risks or pressures that could move things in the wrong direction,” he said, including the effects of the government shutdown and potential damage if the debt limit is not raised.

Palmer said another factor for the state's decision is the lack of guarantee that it would be reimbursed once the shutdown ends.

Seriously?

You know, I’ve never bought the claims that California is unfriendly to business. Sure, it’s costly here, but we also have a big population base, a great climate, we’re the home of Silicon Valley and Central Valley agriculture and on and on.

But Sacramento’s decision in this case has me wondering. This non-response is just plain shortsighted and wrong. If there had been a natural disaster, politicians would be tripping over themselves to push for aid. But this is a disaster — albeit a man-made one — for many small businesses throughout the state. People’s livelihoods are being threatened. And the state can’t spare a few lousy bucks — money it would probably get back from the federal government anyway — to help them?

That’s beyond cheap. It’s stupid. And wrong.

Our tax dollars go to both Sacramento and Washington. We already pay for these places. What real difference does it make which tax barrel the money comes out of to keep the national parks in this state open?

So, c’mon, governor. Get on the ball. Talk sense into your bureaucrats. Don’t let them give us excuses and technicalities and dodges. Reopen those parks. Do it for the tourists whose vacations are being ruined. Even do it for yourself when and if you want to be reelected.

But most of all, do it for the little guys who have bills to pay.

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