Green License Plate Scheme Heading to Compost Heap

Open-space projects in California to remain underfunded

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Jan 5, 2010  |  Updated 3:31 PM PDT
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Green License Plate Scheme Heading to Compost Heap

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is having trouble convincing cash-strapped car owners to pitch in for park maintenance.

San Francisco Recreation and Parks general manager Phil Ginsburg might want to rethink his plan to sell commemorative plaques in order to help fund city parks.

Because two efforts to sell commemorative embossed metal displays of your affection for publicly accessible open space in California are coming up short.

For example, the new custom license plates being offered to help the Sierra Nevada Conservancy may not be made at all as motorists cut back on expenses.

Sales of commemorative license plates, which cost an extra $50 with the proceeds benefitting everything from the Coastal Commission to UCLA, are in decline, with sales down two years in a row.

And if 7,244 people to rush out and buy the ones being offered by the conservancy before mid-July, they won't be made at all.

It's lead Bob Kingman, who's overseeing the plate program for the conservancy, to blame a law that restricts the graphics on the plate to a small area, which was passed in response to law enforcement concerns about plate legibility.

Earlier plates, like the plate honoring Yosemite issued in 1993, feature a full-sized graphic. The Yosemite plate has raised $47.9 million for Yosemite National Park.

Turns out Californians don't much like optional taxes to support public amenities, either.

Jackson West is skeptical of "entrepreneurial" approaches to funding basic state services like parks.

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