WatchSonoma Watch

Pushing ahead for beach fees



Other than the gas they used to get there, Murray and Janice Bruce didn’t have to spend a dime Friday morning to enjoy a spectacular view of Goat Rock near

Steve and Linda Freitas of Atwater questioned the proposed $8 day use fees at Goat Rock State Beach on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. (JOHN BURGESS/ PD)


They said it should stay that way.

“Keep it free,” said Murray Bruce, who lives in Berkeley with his wife. “The more people that come to the coast, the more they will appreciate it and want to protect it.”

California State Parks, however, is still seeking the authority to expand the number of beaches along the Sonoma and Mendocino County coasts, including at Goat Rock, where visitors must pay for parking.

State officials say the new day-use fees, which would amount to $8 a vehicle, are necessary to keep the beaches open and to reopen others as the park system grapples with budget cuts and a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $1 billion.

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, whose district includes the coast, characterized the state’s intentions as an insult to the nonprofit groups and individuals in the public and private sectors who stepped up in the past year to save parks from closure.

“For State Parks to repay the people of Sonoma County with what I think is an excessive charge to access our coastline is downright unacceptable,” Carrillo said.

In Sonoma County, the state parks department wants to implement fees at 14 popular beaches where access now is free: Stump Beach, Russian Gulch, Blind Beach, North Goat Rock, Goat Rock Arched Rock, South Goat Rock, Shell Beach, Portuguese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, North and South Salmon Creek, Campbell Cove, Bodega Head Upper and Bodega Head Lower.

Decision pending

State Parks submitted an application for a county coastal development permit that would allow it to install 15 self-pay machines, or “iron rangers,” at the locations where the fees are to be assessed.

David Hardy, supervising planner of the county Permit and Resource Management Department, said he expects to make a recommendation on the application in a few weeks. It then will be reviewed by the county Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Hardy said the issue boils down to whether charging new fees along the coast represents a change in use that is consistent with the county’s coastal plan.

He said that in his review of the plan, fees are referenced mainly in relation to private beach access points, including at Ocean Cove and Timber Cove.

County supervisors on Aug. 21 unanimously supported a resolution opposing the fees, which also have come under withering criticism from the North Coast’s legislative delegation.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he’s “going to do what I can” to get State Parks to reconsider the fee proposal.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed Huffman’s bill that would, among other things, allow Californians to redirect portions of their tax refunds to a parks “protection fund,” in exchange for an annual state park day-use access pass. Motorists also will be given the opportunity to buy special license plates with a portion of the proceeds going to state parks.

Bill to keep parks open

Brown also signed AB 1478, which provides $30 million to keep parks open for the next two years. Of that, $10 million will come from money discovered in a State Parks operating fund, and another $10 million to match private and nonprofit group donations.

Another $10 million will be allocated through Proposition 84 and spent on deferred maintenance projects for state parks.

Roy Stearns, a spokesman for State Parks, said all this amounts to one-time money that “does not restore the budget cuts of the last many years.”

He said State Parks therefore needs to raise more revenue, hence the proposal to charge new fees along the coast.

“We need to think ahead. Our critical underfunding problem has not gone away,” he said.

But at Goat Rock on Friday, Atwater resident Steve Freitas, no relation to Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, said the new fees essentially would be like taking land away from the people.

“For a certain segment of the population, this is their recreation,” he said.

You can reach Staff WriterDerek Moore at 521-5336 or derek. moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.

16 Responses to “Pushing ahead for beach fees”

  1. R.B. Fish says:

    I’m not creative or smart enough to prepare the following poem or tax list but thought it would be appropriate to post here. Your representatives think if want some small enjoyment in Sonona County life like walking in the sand or watching a sunset you are going to pay for that privelege with a monetary tax in addtion to the following.I think we should add the 0 % A.S.S.tax for assinine liberal tax.

    Tax his land,
    Tax his bed,
    Tax the table,
    At which he’s fed.

    Tax his tractor,
    Tax his mule,
    Teach him taxes
    Are the rule.

    Tax his work,
    Tax his pay,
    He works for
    peanuts anyway!

    Tax his cow,
    Tax his goat,
    Tax his pants,
    Tax his coat.

    Tax his ties,
    Tax his shirt,
    Tax his work,
    Tax his dirt.

    Tax his tobacco,
    Tax his drink,
    Tax him if he
    Tries to think.

    Tax his cigars,
    Tax his beers,
    If he cries
    Tax his tears.

    Tax his car,
    Tax his gas,
    Find other ways
    To tax his ass.

    Tax all he has
    Then let him know
    That you won’t be done
    Till he has no dough.

    When he screams and hollers;
    Then tax him some more,
    Tax him till
    He’s good and sore.

    Then tax his coffin,
    Tax his grave,
    Tax the sod in
    Which he’s laid…

    Put these words
    Upon his tomb,
    ‘Taxes drove me
    to my doom…’

    When he’s gone,
    Do not relax,
    Its time to apply
    The inheritance tax.

    Accounts Receivable Tax
    Building Permit Tax
    CDL license Tax
    Cigarette Tax
    Corporate Income Tax
    Dog License Tax
    Excise Taxes
    Federal Income Tax
    Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
    Fishing License Tax
    Food License Tax
    Fuel Permit Tax
    Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
    Gross Receipts Tax
    Hunting License Tax
    Inheritance Tax
    Inventory Tax
    IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
    Liquor Tax
    Luxury Taxes
    Marriage License Tax
    Medicare Tax
    Personal Property Tax
    Property Tax
    Real Estate Tax
    Service Charge Tax
    Social Security Tax
    Road Usage Tax
    Recreational Vehicle Tax
    Sales Tax
    School Tax
    State Income Tax
    State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
    Telephone Federal Excise Tax
    Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
    Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
    Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
    Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
    Telephone State and Local Tax
    Telephone Usage Charge Tax
    Utility Taxes
    Vehicle License Registration Tax
    Vehicle Sales Tax
    Watercraft Registration Tax
    Well Permit Tax
    Workers Compensation Tax

  2. Juvenal says:


    “A kiosk bonfire sounds like a nice outing at this point.”

    Nice. A poster who claims to be “repulsed by vandalism” promotes arson instead.

  3. Steveguy says:

    Where are the Surfriders ? This proposal goes against common decency, again.

    As for sledgehammers and torches ? Way to bulky, as an insulation foam can will work great, and I lean towards being a conservative !

    Civil disobedience in the face of stupidity by nameless money mongers is OK by me, though I am repulsed by vandalism.

    A kiosk bonfire sounds like a nice outing at this point.

    Like I have said- I don’t mind paying for Doran Beach, Wright’s, the Dunes, etc and do so willingly. Don’t make me pay for Salmon Creek, Bodega Head, and other spots. We have enough pay places that are attractive enough.

  4. Don says:

    Lets keep this simple folks!

    Just start adding people! Where will you come up with thousands in new tax dollars? Payroll taxes up! Fed Taxes up! Sate income tax up! School taxes up! Local taxes up! Look at all the fees(taxes) for fishing, hunting, car registration, park rentals,parking tickets(just add your favorite fee increase).

    I DO NOT have an extra $5000 per year laying around…….do you?

  5. bear says:

    Dear Friends,

    I share your sense of outrage at beach fees. I was especially moved by the comment about charging for access to the final resting places of loved ones.

    But let’s get real. LOTS of nasty things happen at our beaches, and LOTS of unnecessary and hazardous debris is generated on land and at sea by thoughtless pigs. Someone has to clean it all up and keep order, or else no one would want to go to the beach.

    The real questions involve who pays taxes, for how much property and income?

    I’d really love a 14% federal income tax rate, but as a single, unmarried renter I paid double that for decades! I’d love to pay 15% on investment income, but I don’t have any. I’d love to hide my income offshore, but couldn’t afford the accountants and attorneys needed.

    I’d love to be GE, who made $14 billion in profits, paid zero taxes and got a $3 billion refund. I’d love to be an oil company that gets subsidies to make record profits or a corporate farm that gets similar subsidies AND creates the illegal immigration problem.

    I’m ready to talk flat tax, entitlement reform, defense reductions (especially for bloodsucking private contractors) and any other issue you’ve got.

    Is anybody out there willing to honestly negotiate and compromise?

  6. Grapevines says:

    Seems that our Gov Moonbeam II and his legislature live by the poem:

    Tax his land, tax his wage,
    Tax his bed in which he lays.
    Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
    Teach him taxes is the rule.

    Tax his cow, tax his goat,
    Tax his pants, tax his coat.
    Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
    Tax his work, tax his dirt.

    Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
    Teach him taxes are no joke.
    Tax his car, tax his grass,
    Tax the roads he must pass.

    Tax his food, tax his drink,
    Tax him if he tries to think.
    Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
    If he cries, tax his tears.

    Tax his bills, tax his gas,
    Tax his notes, tax his cash.
    Tax him good and let him know
    That after taxes, he has no dough.

    If he hollers, tax him more,
    Tax him until he’s good and sore.
    Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
    Tax the sod in which he lays.

    Put these words upon his tomb,
    “Taxes drove me to my doom!”
    And when he’s gone, we won’t relax,
    We’ll still be after the inheritance tax.

  7. Over easy says:

    Wake up people it is time for you to think before you vote!

    Yes I’m talking to you the foolish who vote without any idea of what the heck you are electing or their positions.

    You the lazy and uneducated who are just smart enough to figure out how to start the car to drive to the poles.

    You the selfish entitlementist who haven’t done an honest thing in your half baked life.

    To the rest of you who have been voting with sensibility, thank you and spread the word.

  8. Big Jim says:

    This is simply big Government taking away people’s freedoms. It is a regressive tax and will prevent things like schools from taking children for outings to the beach to discover and learn outside the classroom. Further, it will damage the tourist industry in the area as who will want to stop and see the glorious sea views if every stop costs $8 – better go to Oregon. All to fund the over bloated salaries and pensions of government elites – the managers, college leaders, and public safety workers.
    Join me in calling on the county Permit and Resource Management Department to deny this over-reach. Also, vote yes on Prop 32 to blunt the power of government unions and stop this government grab of every penny and freedom from the people.

  9. Sarkyfish says:

    Sledge hammer anyone; acetylene torch? Wake up California, you now exist to fund the lifestyles of the bureaucracy that controls your life.

  10. Snarky says:

    Keep in mind that the Golden Gate Bridge District has totally eliminated “toll taker” jobs at the toll booths and we will soon be seeing fully electronic tolls.

    IF parking fees are coming, the electronic kiosks that accept debit and credit cards are all that would be needed.

    But keep an eye on the local government types… they will insist on having ANOTHER government employee there to collect cash…. every little parking lot up and down the coast will then supposedly “need” a “ranger” to “monitor” the parking lot.

  11. Frank says:

    Moonbeam continues to make appointments some are per-deim, most salary, so much for solving the budget deficit
    so lets make up for it on our state beachs with fees and lets not forget the props on the ballot almost all are a tax increase
    small sample of his incompetence

  12. Steveguy says:

    The recent proposal to charge for the parking on the Sonoma Coast is appalling to me. There are places that I have paid to enter for decades, and have been glad to do it. To charge for mere parking and a garbage can is an unacceptable response to the Parks budget. Doran Beach, Wright’s Beach, etc are fine with me for charging. I would like to say something about Bodega Head and other ‘parking’ spots.

    Those spots are also the resting place of many loved ones. Besides those lost at sea. You cannot as a civilized person charge someone to grieve a loved one’s last resting place, even be it ashes. Fire everyone involved with this sickening scheme. Besides that how many MILLIONS are being spent to study the death out of our coast. I remember studying it in College in the 70′s. Can we take a portion of the multi-millions in ‘study money’ and have someone pick up the trash ? Please ? Otherwise no dice. They will fail.

    ( sent to the PD as a letter to the editor )

  13. Vinyl Rules says:

    @James Bennett

    Agenda 21? Dude get a grip! Take a deep breath and let go of the fear. You’ll feel good for the first time in a long while.

  14. Graeme Wellington says:

    Again, why can’t our elected officials do their jobs just using the enormous sums of money they already collect? Spend less. You’re getting plenty of tax dollars.

    The beach? Sorry, you’ve gone way too far.

  15. James Bennett says:

    As the oppressive incremental march of restrictions that is UN Agenda 21 continues…

    A charade of “due process” and a “rub” lends credibility to what is A.D.D. (Already Done Deal).

    Not enough money (lie), not enough energy (lie), not enough oil (lie), not enough water (lie), not enough protection for the mating habits of a little bird the locals have never seen (Fortuna).

    This will create an illusion of bona-fide effort.

    “We didn’t want to restrict access to open space and corral people into human settlements, we had no other choice”.

    This propaganda piece is merely planting the seed of intention.

  16. J.R. Wirth says:

    It’s always been strange to pay to see that giant body of water west of us. This is mostly about greed bags that want revenue. However, part of the reason for doing this is to keep undesirables away from the coastal areas. It’s the same reason they ban alcohol on many beaches. Orange county was doing this 30 years ago. They noticed poor inland people using their beaches and started charging to keep them out.

    We live in two states, the coastal people who pay $8.00 like it’s 30 cents and are glad to do it and all those inland people who work at Panda Express. God forbid you get off your job slinging orange chicken for 10 hours and want to see the ocean.