Structure of the Commission

The California State Park and Recreation Commission was created as the State Park Commission in 1927. In its current form, nine voting commissioners are appointed to staggered four-year terms. The governor appoints the voting members of the Commission; these appointments require Senate confirmation. State law requires that:

  • three members represent the public;
  • one member have demonstrated expertise in cultural or historic resources management;
  • one member possess a background as a parks professional;
  • one member represent nonprofit or other organizations with statewide policy experience with the State Park System or in operating state parks (via operating agreement or other arrangement);
  • one member represent a statewide conservation organization with expertise in the administration or programs of the department;
  • one member have a background in the recreational industry;
  • one member represent a local business community that has significant and beneficial relationships with state parks.

Commissioners may serve for 60 days after their term expiration date as permitted by law. 

Authorities and Responsibilities

The Commission has specific authorities and responsibilities which are defined in California law (numbered in no particular order for reference only):

  1. Approves general plans for units of the State Park System. (PRC Section 5002.2)
  2. Approves the name and classification of new units of the State Park System. Classification of state marine managed areas requires the concurrence of the Fish and Game Commission. (PRC Section 5019.50) (Commission Policy II.2)
  3. Approves resolutions accepting and naming memorial redwood groves and memorial trails in units of the State Park System. (Commission Policy II.2)
  4. Determines whether proposed concessions for units are compatible with the unit's general plan. (PRC Section 5080.03c) (Commission Policy I.4)
  5. Determines whether proposed concession contracts are expected to involve a total investment or estimated annual gross sales more than $1M are compatible with the classifications of the units in which they will be operated. (PRC Section 5080.20a) (Commission Policy I.6)
  6. Reports annually to the Governor, through the Director, on existing and operating recreational facilities, programs, and activities of the State Park System, and makes recommendations for programs and activities to meet future needs of the state for parks and recreation. (PRC Section 535) (Commission Policy Preamble)
  7. Establishes general policies for the guidance of the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation in the administration, protection, and development of the State Park System. (PRC Section 539) (Commission Policy Preamble)
  8. Formulates and recommends to the Director a comprehensive recreation policy for the State of California. (PRC Section 540b) (Commission Policy I.1)
  9. Recognition of State Park Employees or any persons or organizations that have significantly contributed to the State Park unit or system. This currently includes recognition of retired employees, resolutions, and the Golden Bear Award, the highest award given by the Commission to persons or organizations for significant contributions to the State Park System.
  10. Determines whether hunting in certain State Recreation Areas would threaten the safety and welfare of recreation area users. (PRC Section 5003.1) (Commission Policy III.7)
  11. Provides general guidance to the Director when considering the sales of alcoholic beverages at State Park facilities and to describe the circumstances under which the sales of alcoholic beverages may be permitted within the State Park System. (Commission Policy IV.7)
  12. Concurs in appointments made by the Director to the Columbia City Hotel Corporation (Contract with Hotel Corporation) and by the Director to the California Citrus State Historic Park Non-Profit Management Corporation Board of Directors. (Operating agreement with the Non-Profit Management Corporation). (Commission Policy I.4)