Park fees will go up in the new year

December 26, 2002 11:00 pm

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

Campers in California's state parks will pay a little more for sites in 2003, as Gov. Gray Davis increases fees in an attempt to whittle away the state's $35 billion deficit.

Still, the rate hike is less than what campers paid each night in 1999, before the booming economy prompted Davis to cut charges in 2000.

Day use fees will jump $2, and camping rates will rise $1, except during peak season when they will shoot up $3 or $4, depending on the site.

That will put most developed campsites in the $8 to $13 range for one night.

Annual passes will almost double, from $35 to $67.

The increase will take effect Jan. 1 and is predicted to raise $9 million during the upcoming budget year.

In 1999, visitors at most parks paid $3 more than they pay now, when annual passes cost $75.

With the new increase, visitors will still pay a dollar less than they did in 1999.

Chuck Hahn, chief of staff for assemblyman David Cogdill, R-Modesto, said Cogdill hasn't taken a position on the increase, and wants to talk to park employees before he does so.

"They're the ones in the trenches," Hahn said. "We like to get their opinion before we finalize any decision."

The new park fees are just part of a long list of laws that will take effect Jan. 1. Included among them are:

Some of the new California laws that take effect Jan. 1:

• Embryonic stem cell research will be explicitly allowed in California.

• Law enforcement agencies will be able to get roving wiretaps that monitor multiple cell phones or Internet communications without seeking separate court orders.

• Domestic partners will be able to inherit their partner's property if he or she dies without a will.

• Children of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be able to attend the University of California, California State University or community colleges without paying tuition.

• Victims of sexual abuse will be able to sue the organization or association where the abuser worked or volunteered.