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Zoe Siegel

Big Win: Tesla Park Protected From OHV Expansion

After two decades of advocacy efforts, finally, the site known as Tesla Park in eastern Alameda County will be protected. In early September, Governor Gavin Newsom, the Legislature, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation reached a $31 million agreement to protect the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area from off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation on the land.

With the mobilization of a coalition of organizations, led by the Save Tesla Park campaign, Greenbelt Alliance helped fight this battle for Tesla Park—and won. The land has rare ecological value and contains an abundance of highly sensitive natural and cultural resources. Learn more here

This agreement is part of the Natural Resources Budget Trailer Bill AB 155/SB 155 which will end plans to expand the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) into the 3,100-acre Tesla Park and offers the resources to reallocate this high environmental impact activity to a different, more appropriate location. 

Historic Fight

For over 20 years, Tesla Park has been at risk of becoming a destructive off-highway vehicle/motorized recreation park as an expansion project for the Carnegie SVRA. In 2019, Governor Newsom vetoed legislation that would have preserved Tesla Park and this June threatened to line-item veto a Tesla Park protection item in the budget if not removed.

Now, this land will become a new state park, under control of State Parks and the Parks and Recreation Commission closed to motorized recreation and open to the community for low-impact recreation activities, such as hiking. A planning process will be conducted to determine the classification of Tesla Park as a unit of the park system and its management and use plan, with $1 million allocated to the planning process in this year’s budget. 

The state will reimburse the off-highway vehicle fund $18.3 million for the estimated current value of the land, plus $2.4 million that the fund used for planning the current park’s expansion. Another $11.5 million will be set aside for planning and construction of an alternative off-road park, while $1 million will go toward transitioning the Tesla property into a non-OHV park.

This is a big win for climate resilience in our region because converting Tesla Park to motorized recreation would have not only destroyed the natural environment on the ground but also led to increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and particulate air pollution. These lands are critical to preserving rare ecosystems, biodiversity, and open space that provides wildfire resilience in a region threatened by heat and drought.

Greenbelt Alliance would like to thank Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan and Senator Glazer and their staff for remaining committed to Tesla Park’s preservation. While the work is not over, this agreement represents a major victory for climate resilience in the Bay Area.

With information from Friends of Tesla Park.

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