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By Tim Hunt

News and notes

Uploaded: Mar 20, 2014

Were you surprised that the Dept. of the Interior and the National Park Service released a survey results that touted the economic benefits of the national parks in the Bay Area.
The biggest numbers came from visitors to the Golden Gate National Parks that include the Golden Gate Recreation Center, Fort Point National Historic Site and Muir Woods National Monument. The agencies reported that visitors spent $471 million in communities near the parks and that supported 5,300 jobs. The 17 million visitors were the most of any park in the system.
Somehow, I didn't read how the survey drilled down with more critical questions. I doubt—being charitable—that the Golden Gate parks were the destination of the vast majority of the visitors. It was the bridge that the parks are named for that is the tourist magnet.
If folks are in San Francisco, whether on vacation or business, a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge is on everyone's list if time permits (for the business folks).
The nearby national parks enhance that visit, but are not the reason to make the trip.
Point Reyes National Seashore, north of the Golden Gate parks, drew 2.7 million visits and generated $98 million in economic impact, according to the survey.
"National parks like Point Reyes are not only good for the soul, they are good for the economy," said the Point Reyes superintendent Cindy Muldoon.
The economic claim is stretching it a bit far—no debate about good for the soul and spirit.

Note to commenter: Swalwell equals Stark.
Yes, for the most part—positions on key issues are similar and anathema to the conservatives within the district. The political reality is that Alameda County, particularly along the Bay, is deep blue. The public support from the president, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Dianne Feinstein speaks to what his campaign team believes will help Swalwell in the elections this year.
Swalwell's biggest challenge will be the same one he mounted successfully against Stark—a fellow Democrat. He faces off against termed-out state Senator Ellen Corbett this year.

Signs that the federal government has gotten way too big—the announcement last month that Contra Costa County Fire has been awarded $9.6 million in a federal grant to hire more firefighters. The federal government has no business funding basic local services such as police and firefighters. They are a local responsibility and Job 1 for counties and municipal governments.
The county fire agency has been suffering, as has its cousin in Eastern Contra Costa because of the sharp decrease in property taxes that was brought on by the recession.
Retiring Rep. George Miller touted the grants—he has been good at bringing home the federal bacon—without asking the more basic question of whether it is an appropriate expenditure for the national government.