Some residents oppose name change of Lake Tahoe state park

TAHOMA, Calif. (AP) -- The name of a popular state park on Lake Tahoe's west shore has been changed, and some locals are unhappy about it.

Earlier this month, Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation renaming Sugar Pine Point State Park after late Assemblyman Ed Z'berg, D-Sacramento, who fought to protect Tahoe.

The park now will be known as Ed Z'berg Sugar Pine Point State Park.

"I think it's appalling," said Suzanne Buswell, a park neighbor who led the fight against the name change. "It takes away from what the park really is."

Resident Ed Miller said he feels slighted by the system. The name change was inserted in a public resource bill without notice after the state Parks Commission voted against the change in April.

"The commission said parks should not be named after people," Miller told the Tahoe World newspaper. "What happened between then and now? What kind of extraordinary power does this family have?"

The name change was added to the bill by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, who served in the Assembly with Z'berg and supported the Z'berg family's campaign to rename the park.

"Burton wanted to recognize Z'berg for his long-time support of parks and outdoor activities," said Ray Sotero, a spokesman for Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza. She chairs the Assembly Budget Committee, which introduced the legislation.

Z'berg's grandson, Matthew, said Burton was angry at the commission for rejecting the name change.

"He said he would just put it in a budget bill and there's nothing they can do after that," Z'berg said.

Burton, D-San Francisco, didn't return phone calls.

The battle between the Legislature and commission over the name change dates back nearly 30 years.

In 1975, shortly after Z'berg's death, lawmakers passed a resolution urging the commission to add his name to the park.

The commission rejected the request, saying it went against its policy of naming most parks after geographic locations.

Instead, a section of the park -- the Z'berg Natural Preserve -- was named after him.

Since then, park policy has changed as several state parks have been named in honor of leading Californians.

Buswell disagrees with the policy change, saying state parks should not be named after politicians.

"Z'berg didn't do what he did for that reason, for recognition," she said.

During his 17-year tenure in the Assembly, Z'berg authored bills to protect open space, regulate logging and fund state parks. Sugar Pine Point was one of his favorite areas.

Sugar Pine Point is best known for the 11,073-square-foot Ehrman Mansion and a scenic stretch of shoreline.


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