WatchSonoma Watch

State renews bid for beach parking fees



State parks officials are likely to face another skeptical audience in Santa Rosa next week over their controversial proposal to increase the number of beaches

Goat Rock Beach (PD FILE, 2010)

Goat Rock Beach (PD FILE, 2010)

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

Tuesday’s public hearing at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors comes nine months after supervisors adopted a resolution opposing the fees.

West county Supervisor Efren Carrillo, whose district includes the beaches where the new fees are proposed, did not soften his stance this week, calling the plan “absolutely unacceptable.”

Nevertheless, state officials will again make their case that additional day-use fees are needed to maintain or restore services on the Sonoma Coast and to fulfill a legislative mandate for state parks to develop new sources of revenue.

The state is seeking permission to install 15 self-pay machines at beaches on the Sonoma Coast. The latest iteration of the plan calls for a flat $7 fee for parking, which is $1 less than what the state originally proposed and is equal to what the county charges at its regional parks.

Roy Stearns, a spokesman for state parks, said the fees would help cover the cost of bathrooms, garbage collection, water treatment and other services.

“It is not unreasonable to collect fees to pay for such services, as the county does, as private business does,” he said.

At a Jan. 17 hearing at the county’s Board of Zoning Adjustments, state officials could not say how much of the money collected from the proposed fees would be dedicated to Sonoma County beaches. The money would go into a state park recreation fund.

The zoning board soundly rejected the state plan, mainly over concerns that the fees would deter visitors to the coast in violation of California’s Constitution and the state’s 1976 Coastal Act, which encourages “maximum access” to beaches.

Sonoma County’s Local Coastal Plan states that the county must take “all necessary steps to protect and defend” those rights “to and along the shoreline.”

County supervisors almost certainly will deny the state’s appeal of the zoning board’s unanimous rejection, likely setting the stage for a showdown at the California Coastal Commission and possibly in court.

“Nobody has really asked the questions of, ‘Can you charge a fee or not, and does charging a fee limit public access?’” said David Hardy, supervising planner of the county Permit and Resource Management Department.

The Coastal Commission, meeting Friday in Long Beach, is considering the state’s application to install automated payment machines at five beaches in Orange County. Commission staff is recommending the plan be approved.

Charles Lester, the commission executive director, signaled his support for such fees in a May 20 letter to Major General Anthony Jackson, director of state parks.

Lester wrote that he recognized state parks’ funding needs and he promised to work “collaboratively” on the issue so long as the new fees are consistent with the state’s Coastal Act and local coastal plans.

In Orange County, the state is proposing a flexible fee program at beaches that could include hourly rates, special holiday pricing or no charge for the first hour of a visit.

The fact the state is seeking a flat-rate fee at Sonoma County beaches may reflect that some of the locations lack electrical power and a phone connection needed for automated machines, Hardy said.

The areas where the new fees would apply include Stump Beach, Russian Gulch, Goat Rock, Shell Beach, Portuguese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, North and South Salmon Creek, Campbell Cove and Bodega Head.

Tuesday’s hearing is at 2:10 p.m. at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa.

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

6 Responses to “State renews bid for beach parking fees”

  1. bear says:

    Pay for what you take, or don’t take it.

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  2. James Bennett says:

    More evidence that you can get away with anything if you do it incrementally.

    This is another step toward the Wildland Project.

    That’s why they are ‘putting aside’ so much open space; with all the regs, they could still protect it in private ownership.

    That’s why rural/ag folks are under assault.

    That’s why they are defunding services and road maintenance in the country.

    That’s why it’s an act of God to rebuild your barn or have a guest cottage.

    That’s why the new ‘alternative energy’ provider plan has an eminent domain provision.

    That’s what the tyrannical One Bay Area Plan is about.

    I a meeting in a couple hours where high-jacked Berkeley cronies will start engaging the public in the Sudden Oak Death Syndrome, California Bay Laurel problem. Have us take samples to submit for testing/confirmation. This is a segway into not letting humans in the country side as we will spread the pathogen with our feet and tires. The trees are REALLY dying from the tons of metals and poison we are being sprayed with from this ‘geo-engineering’ program. Trees are compromised from the spraying making them susceptible to pathogens, beetles, etc..

    How dare they.
    These are National treasures that we have paid for over and over.

    UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development.
    A Plan that would have made George Orwell blush.

    A highly controlled Corpratocracy where we are caged and the critters run free.

    ‘m going toHow cruel would you have to be to spray the Earth with poison, then oppress us under environmental guise?

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  3. Steveguy says:

    Another result of this hair-brained money grab try is the loss of those small turnouts along the highway. The best one is above the Salmon Creek bonfire spot. They can just toss the bonfire to material off the cliff there. There many other picture taking small spots that will have No Parking signs.

    With iron rangers come more sign blight on the coast. I want my coast natural as can be, I don’t want a bunch of NO ! signs all over.

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  4. Steveguy says:

    Does the State know the words ” Hell No !” when it comes to our precious coastal access ? Does the State know that it will never come to pass ? We already have pay spots that we gladly pay for.

    OK, Try charging, but where are the people supposed to put their money when the iron ranger is in the ocean ? Charging at most of those spots is also like charging to enter a cemetery. ( Bodega Head, Goat Rock,Stump Beach, etc, etc.) They will not prevail.

    Which brings me to a related item. The State Parks owns a fancy retreat called the Marconi Center above Tomales Bay. I try to get more real info and facts about it but can’t penetrate the layer. There are conference rooms, condos, fine dining etc, yet I hear of no accounting other than they ‘don’t cost us’… I did some work there decades ago as a contractor and have driven the grounds many times since. Is this a ‘hidden govt party perk’ like the recent and past revelations about extravagant parties masquerading as conferences with us paying the dime ?

    Look at the administration of it and the Coastal Parks for where money is coming from, and where it is spent.. How much tax money is spent ?

    I know that it doesn’t cost much for a few (4) guys and a few trucks to maintain our spots. We should have a great maintenance crew that can deal with volunteers, because there are very experienced volunteers ready and able and have the tools. I know that, as I have done that for decades.

    A fee is for the PERMIT, which means that the Government is PERMITTING you to park or walk on land that we the people own and should be able to occupy at will. I would rather have the tourist visit the many beaches along our coast without the encumbrance of a pay station everywhere. I pay for Salt Point, Wright’s Beach and Bodega Dunes, yet alone Doran and others.

    Then there is a mention of the Coastal Commission and courts- oh my

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  5. JOE DEL RIO says:

    anaother example of gvernment trying to tax us as much as possible. this “LEGISLATIVE MANDATE to develope new sorces of revenue is simply the big brother looking into all of our pockets to see if there is anything left.
    A great example is the thugs that went into a small business and offered protection (services) for a fee. of course if you didn’ pay it, no one could use it and the owner would just have to find a new way to earn a living. Why don’t we as tax payers insist our government (yes the thugs in this case) stay out of our resources and find themselves a way to EARN thier pay?
    Beaches are not the tax mans pocket

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  6. Grapevines says:

    The ever money grabbing Sacramento crowd won’t be satisfied till their even taxing the air we breath. 50 cents for children, 1 dollar for adults, 10 cents for dogs and cats.

    It’s time for another Boston style tea party. Only instead of tossing tea bales into the harbor, lets toss Sacramento politicians into the bay.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

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