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WatchSonoma
WatchSonoma Watch

County supervisors reject beach day-use fees

By DEREK MOORE

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously rejected the state’s plan to increase the number of

Goat Rock Beach (PD FILE, 2010)

Goat Rock Beach (PD FILE, 2010)

beaches on the Sonoma Coast where visitors would be charged for parking.

The outcome likely sets up a showdown at the California Coastal Commission, which on Friday approved new day-use fees at several beaches in Orange County.

Matt Fuzie, deputy director of operations for California State Parks, said Tuesday he assumed the agency will appeal the action taken by county supervisors.

Tuesday’s public hearing in Santa Rosa was marked by emotional testimony about the potential impacts of the proposed fees.

The state is seeking permission to install 15 self-pay machines at beaches on the Sonoma Coast and charge visitors $7 for parking.

The areas where the new fees would apply are Stump Beach, Russian Gulch, Goat Rock, Shell Beach, Portuguese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, North and South Salmon Creek, Campbell Cove and Bodega Head. The state for decades has been charging a day-use fee at several Sonoma Coast parks, including Fort Ross, Bodega Dunes and Wrights Beach.

Darris Nelson of Bodega Bay recounted fond memories of taking her son to the beach. He’s 17 now and drives there himself.

“I hate to think of all the families that won’t have that because they can’t afford that,” Nelson told supervisors.

Nelson was one of 20 people who addressed supervisors, all of whom expressed opposition to the proposed fees.

Speakers included veterans of the “Free Our Beaches” campaign of the early 1990s that was sparked by a similar plan to charge new fees at the coast.

Bev Burton, a Bodega Bay resident who helped lead that effort, told supervisors Tuesday the opposition group back then collected 30,000 signatures in three months.

“We could do that again, but I don’t believe that we have to go that far,” she said.

Fuzie, who gave the state’s presentation, recalled serving as a lifeguard on the Sonoma Coast from 1994-96 and participating in several rescues.

“I’ve been called a hero in this community and no doubt today I run the risk of being called a goat,” he told supervisors.

He said the fees are necessary to offset cuts in the state parks’ budget and to restore services on the coast. He said state parks receives just 29 percent of its budget from the general fund and that lawmakers have ordered the agency to develop new sources of revenue.

He said this year’s budget for the Russian River District, which includes state parks west of Highway 101 to and along the Sonoma Coast, is $4.7 million. He said the district is expected to generate about $900,000 in revenue.

“We are simply asking to put iron rangers in where we provide services,” he said.

Supervisors rejected the argument, mainly on the grounds that they felt the new fees would restrict access to the coast, in particular for the low-income and seniors.

“From our children, to our seniors, to everybody in between, we absolutely have to protect our right to access the coast,” Supervisor Susan Gorin said.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane said that Sonoma County stepped up to keep several state parks open in the face of threatened closure and that residents have “already paid enough.”

Supervisors also acknowledged public criticism of their stance opposing the beach fees, while at the same time the county charges fees at several regional parks and trailheads on the coast.

“there is an argument to be made to remove those fees and provide some consistencies,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, whose district includes the coast.

Caryl Hart, director of regional parks, identified the areas where the county could consider removing the $7 day-use fees as five trailheads at Sea Ranch and at Pinnacle Gulch and Bird Walk, both in Bodega Bay.

She said those areas include no services, only parking, and do not really generate “a lot” of revenue for the county.

She said other coastal parks run by the county, such as Doran Beach and Stillwater Cove, offer services such as campgrounds and rangers.

County staff contend that the decision to charge fees at several regional parks was made prior to the county’s adoption of a local coastal plan, which states that the county must take “all necessary steps to protect and defend” those rights “to and along the shoreline.”

California’s Constitution and the state’s 1976 Coastal Act encourage “maximum access” to beaches and make no exceptions for financial hardship on the state’s part.

State parks officials, however, argue that a 1994 case — Surfrider Foundation v. California Coastal Commission — found that installing iron rangers for fee collection did not did not have an effect on coastal access.

Spencer Nilson, chairman of Sonoma Coast Surfrider, told supervisors Tuesday that the legal case was dated and did not set a legal precedent, and that state parks has no baseline data to compare the impact of instituting fees on the Sonoma Coast.





7 Responses to “County supervisors reject beach day-use fees”

  1. James Bennett says:

    Soft pedal indoctrination to plant the seed.

    This is part of the Wildlands Project, the U.N.s plan to consolidate humans into small designated areas as outlined in The Biodevesity Treaty.

    The deliberation charade creates an illusion of genuine process.

    The process is to implement globalist directive through an alphabet of coalitions, agencys and hijacked groups.
    Namely ICLEI who is tasked with imposing Agenda 21 on a local basis.

    If anyone has any doubts about ICLEI’s role or if we are adherent, you are mistaken.

    Do your homework.

  2. Steveguy says:

    More on the Marconi Conference Center:

    I believe that the State Parks Department uses the Marconi Center as a private retreat to abuse their positions and go along to get along. With other Agencies included ( wink, wink) . This is their version of an IRS or GAO partay.

    I have had suspicions for decades, from when I did an estimate for the bathrooms and the ‘conference’ at the time was more like a big party of mucky-mucks. Then other estimates and look-sees ( I fished in Marshall).

    To continue— The Marketing Plan is this :

    ” It is understood that effort has been focused on producing more business from Government Agencies, in particular the State of California and it’s various Agencies and Departments.”

    That is THEIR quote, not mine..

    The extensive study shows that the Marconi Center is used as a resort for public agencies and encourages that. However they also recommend opening it up to tourists when nobody is there. The Marconi Center is TOO careful to show a $10,000-$20,000 ‘profit’ a year. What do the State Park parties cost ? $100,000 ? What do they all cost ? $500,000 ?

    I have studied this document, the Operations Analysis April 1998:

    ftp://ftp.parks.ca.gov/pub/Marconi%20Hotel%20HSR/Marconi%20Operations%20Analysis.pdf

    The Marconi Center can provide income for the coastal beaches and parks, but the powers that be want to keep their private resort. Plain and simple.
    Can someone else please look into this ? I offered it to the PD. Maybe I can try a Close to Home, but I want who stays there and the costs involved with the complete story. The Marconi Center could help ” Save our Coast” if managed properly as stated in the Analysis.

    They must be laughing at us. Maybe that is where they ‘planned’ to put iron rangers up !

    Steve Mosher

  3. Steveguy says:

    I found a local State Parks and Agencies scandal- Too much for one post it seems. It relates. Bear with me please:

    Lost in this coastal parking fee attempt is a semi-secret local State Park called the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall. It is a retreat/resort for State Parks officials to be pampered. They advertise to Government Agencies as a mission statement in order to make their budget while a comprehensive study recommended that transient occupancy was a preferred option. The powers that be want the place for public perks meetings when any City Council Chamber is empty 95% of the time, and the food they get is to die for ! Public Servants with servants , gotta love that.

    The Marconi Conference Center is a small resort. 40 rooms from one source with an almost 100 person capacity as some of the ‘rooms ( more likeA ‘secret’ resort.

    Here are the rates- http://www.marconiconference.org/rates.html

    High class? You bet ! Get pampered !
    condos) sleep 3. With a big staff, with great food, service and with great tight lips. The Conference facilities can get your drunk on just seeing them. Many local politicos know about and have stayed there for free. Not free, at the taxpayer expense. The State Park’s budget expense.

    How do I know that the State Parks have great weekend parties ? By the Marconi Center’s own website. I’ll give you the whole page of ‘testimonials’ the State Park one is here :
    “Thanks for letting us be ourselves – exactly what we needed.”
    California State Parks, General Planning

    http://www.marconiconference.org/testimonials.html

    Read the others- The Coast Guard needing a conference place when they have Two Rock ? What ? Why does the ‘ US Fish and Wildlife’ deserve luxury resort settings ? Why ? I sure would like to hear the Who, ( we know the Where) but we don’t know the When. Yet. Get the schedule.

    I can’t find a recent accounting of the place, and would love to expose this resort for what it is. Sure, they get some private company business, but the occupancy rates are very low due to no tourist lodging. I suspect that the powers that be do not want to see their private hangout exposed. A look at the last 2 years schedules and occupants could be very interesting.

    End of part one

    Steve Mosher

  4. R.B. Fish says:

    Fuzie sounds like a jackass more than goat. What about us taxpaying property owning citizens who just visit these beaches for maybe a hour or two. We’ve paid for it taxes already. Did someone say surfers…paying $8 for an hour of surfing. They park on the side of the road and walk.
    Get rid of illegal immigration and use the money from those savings to fund this and other projects. It would create more jobs for citizens that use the beaches and also pay taxes.

  5. Steveguy says:

    The ‘Plan’ is to get the Coastal Commission to force the issue. Or the Courts.

    The public’s ‘Plan’ is to cut off the iron rangers and have kiosk bonfires if they somehow succeed. By normally law-abiding, caring and respectful citizens.

    Charging for a cemetery will never stand.

  6. Dan Drummond Sr says:

    Free just seems so much more American. Did anyone suggest trying voluntary donations first? I’m sure the “Iron Rangers” wouldn’t mind, unless vandals pinch them to use as boat anchors.

    Suggest a $7 donation, but allow a visitor to pay what they can afford. Residents that feel they have “already paid enough” can keep their money.

    Who knows, maybe a wealthy Sonoma County resident who truly appreciates one of these resources will make a large donation.

    Free or not, use them or lose them. Nice story deadlinederek.

    One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~William Shakespeare

  7. Grapevines says:

    Somebody tell Matt Fuzie that his “Iron Rangers” make great boat anchors. Just saw them off at the bottom and attach a chain to them. If you lose one, no biggie. Just pull into another beach and grab theirs. Chances are the people there will be glad to assist in the “donation.”

    State Parks are becoming infected by the “Bug of the Sacramento Politician.” Just wanting more and more funding to waste.