Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Life’s a beach? California wants to charge for (some) Sonoma Coast access

Photo courtesy of Flickr user The City Project

If California State Parks has its way, spending the day at some Sonoma Coast beaches will cost more than just a tank of gas and a bottle of sunscreen. As reported by the Press Democrat, the parks department wants to charge visitors a fee of $8 a day to park their vehicles at 14 beaches along the Sonoma Coast, including Bodega Head and Salt Point State Park.

With budget cuts and backlogged maintenance deferments totaling north of $1 billion, officials say the daily use fees are a necessity just to keep the beaches open and provide amenities like restrooms and picnic tables, as well as possibly reopening beaches that have been shut down.

"I would hope that eight bucks is reasonable for people to come out and enjoy the parks and to help keep these areas open," said Linda Rath, superintendent of the Russian River District for state parks to the Press Democrat.

The fees would be collected via self-pay stations, which would have to be installed (a notice was sent earlier this year to exempt the stations from the California Environmental Quality Act, since they’d be installed in parking lots). A complete list of the beaches that would be affected include Russian Gulch, Blind Beach, Stump 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.

Stewards of the Coast will be hosting two public meetings next month to discuss the proposed fees as well as other ways to fund state parks. The meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 at the Bodega Bay Grange and Monday, June 11 at the Monte Rio Community Center. Both meetings are 6 to 7:30 p.m.