Sonoma County Regional Parks Proposes Elimination of Coastal Trail Fees

February 25, 2016 in News

Board of Supervisors Asked to Discontinue Parking Charges at Sea Ranch, Bodega Bay public trails

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on March 1 will consider eliminating day-use parking fees at six coastal access trails.  Sonoma County Regional Parks is asking for Board approval to rescind the $7 fee immediately at the Pinnacle Gulch coastal access trail in Bodega Bay and five public coastal access trails in The Sea Ranch.

After reviewing the amenities and service levels at the trailheads, the county has determined fee collection is inconsistent with the spirit of the California Coastal Act of 1976 and the Sonoma County Local Coastal Plan, both of which emphasize the importance of public access to the coast.

“The California Constitution guarantees maximum public access to the state’s coastline,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, whose Fifth District includes the Sonoma Coast. “Our responsibility is to protect and defend that right. Removing parking fees at our beach trails is the correct thing to do.”

Trailhead parking fees generate about $34,000 in annual revenue. That income helps offset the cost of operating and maintaining the trails and parking lots, which include restrooms, trash collection and some drinking fountains. Regional Parks is asking the Board of Supervisors to make up the revenue loss by increasing the county’s general fund contribution to the department.

Regional Parks will continue to collect day-use parking fees at its beach parks (Doran Beach, Westside, Stillwater Cove, and Gualala Point.)  Unlike trailheads, the parks include on-site staffing, campgrounds and major capital investments, making fee collection consistent with Coastal Act and Local Coastal Plan interpretations.

“We support the hard-won legacy of coastal access established in Sonoma County,” said Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. “These coastal access trails lead to truly beautiful and iconic landscapes, and we look forward to making them even easier to visit.”

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