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State continues push for Sonoma, Mendocino beach parking fees

  • Murray Bruce of Berkeley stopped to take in the view at Goat Rock State Beach on Friday, September 28, 2012. State parks are proposing an $8 day use parking fees for California State beaches.

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 Jenner.

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.

<b>Decision pending</b>

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.

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