According to major news organizations, the former home of the King of Pop could become California's latest state park under an idea being floated by California state lawmaker, Mike Davis. Last month the Assemblyman said he believes it's worth studying whether the California Department of Parks and Recreation should take over the Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, allowing fans from around the world would visit Michael Jackson's former estate.
Jackson's 2,500-acre estate once housed amusement park rides and a zoo with tigers and snakes, but many of the estate's attractions were dismantled or sold after his death in 2009.
The property is now controlled by a Santa Barbara-based private equity firm, which took control of Neverland in a venture with Jackson after he nearly lost the estate to foreclosure. Jackson signed over control of the estate to Colony Capital for $35 million in 2008. The question, of course, is how cash strapped California could possibly pay for this type of property.
Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed closing 220 of California's 279 state parks to save money, but later backed down. Instead, he and lawmakers agreed to close half the parks on certain days and reduce services.
In November, Californians will vote on a ballot initiative that is designed to provide stable funding to state parks by imposing an $18 surcharge on vehicle license fees. If it's approved, vehicles with California plates would get free park admission.
I guess the voters will get the final say -- not about Neverland, per se -- but at least about their collective willingness to support our parks as we register our cars. Oh, what the heck? PARKS MAKE LIFE BETTER!