Naming rights raises questions
February 13, 2014In the front page article "Supervisors adopt park naming policy," Joe Naiman covers the recent decision by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to sell naming rights to county park trails and other amenities is covered. The new policy, while innovative, raises some interesting questions for us at the Valley Roadrunner.
First of all it is important to note that during a time when county tax rolls continue to take a beating due to the recent decline in home values, finding other sources of income is imperative for our local government. Creative financing, for lack of a better term, is vital for funding capital improvements and major maintenance. The Roadrunner does not begrudge county leaders for looking at new ways to help fund these projects, but rather applauds them for coming up with a unique way to do so without raising taxes.
It is also important to note that city parks are not affected by this new policy so the only location affected by this new policy is Hellhole Canyon Preserve. Also, by our understanding, the new policy only covers those trails, amenities and natural features that are currently unnamed.
With that said, Valley Roadrunner has to wonder how this policy could possibly affect one of our favorite Valley Center resources.
One concern is definitely the length of time that a name is purchased for. Under the new policy it is conceivable that a single trail could have as many as four different names over the course of 20 years given that five years is the minimum for naming a park, preserve, natural features or facility.
Aside from being confusing for people who frequent these areas, it could also be costly since new park signage, brochures and maps would have to be printed each time a name change takes place. People may soon come to disregard the names of these park features entirely as they are always changing.
Perhaps if the minimum were 20 years it would be more acceptable, but in the midst of our constantly changing, man-made landscape of fast food chains and strip-malls, doesn't the natural world merit something more permanent and reliable?
Another consideration, many of these "natural features" may already have unofficial names that have far more relevance to the people who actually use them. Would anyone ever refer to them as something other than what we have known them as for years? Could this cause confusion for both locals and visitors alike?
These are just a few of the questions that come to mind regarding this policy, but overall, the Roadrunner believes this policy is reasonable for new facilities or trails, but there's something about selling names to well-trod trails that seems both tacky and desperate.
Summing it all up, finding creative ways to fund capital improvements is necessary in our current economic situation. However, selling naming rights to anyone who has the money to purchase them with very few restrictions and still having to foot the bill for signage, brochures and maps just doesn't seem like a wise move to us.