County pushes back against state's plan for user fees at beaches

  • 10/2/2012: A1:
    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. Bruce says he is against it.

Sonoma County charges day- use fees at several beach parks and access trails. So how can officials be justified in their opposition to the state seeking to do more of the same?

That question has put county officials on the defensive as they push back strongly against the state's plans, which include charging new day-use fees of $8 at beaches up and down the Sonoma Coast.

That's only a dollar more than what the county currently charges at Westside Park, Doran Beach, Stillwater Cove and several other coastal parks and trails.

Supervisor Efren Carrillo said Friday that he "fully understands" why some observers are perplexed by the county's stance.

But he said the county is right to oppose the proposed fees because, he said, there's no guarantee the money collected by the state would stay local.

"When you look at the regional parks, those revenues stay in the county," he said.

California State Parks applied for a county coastal development permit to install 15 new self-pay machines at beaches on the Sonoma Coast. The application does not spell out any fees, but parks officials previously said they plan to charge visitors $8 for parking.

The beaches where the new fees would apply include 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.

The county Board of Zoning Adjustments is scheduled to take up the state's permit application Jan. 17.

Philip Sales, who was Sonoma County's chief park planner from 1988 to 2006, is among those who have pointed out what they view as flaws in the county's argument against the new day-use fees.

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