Senator McGuire stands in strong opposition to Sonoma County beach fee proposal; pushes for long-term State Parks funding solution

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire continues to be adamantly opposed to State Parks short-sighted proposal to enact fees on some of Northern California’s most cherished public beaches. Today, he submitted a letter urging the California Coastal Commission to deny this latest proposal and focus on revenue measures to bring long-term stability to the State Parks system which has been starved of funds for years now.

“The plan deters public access to some of the most cherished public beaches in Northern California. We should be in the business of opening up our coast to all residents, no matter their socio-economic background and this plan stifles many who live paycheck to paycheck from visiting our beloved coast,” Senator McGuire said. “Rather than taking a piecemeal approach, which this plan is, we should be introducing a statewide funding proposal that would eliminate the need for any beach fees to be established.”

The Coastal Commission will make a decision on the diversity and access issue on Wednesday in Santa Rosa when the beach fees proposal comes to a vote. Coastal Commission staff has recommended denying the proposal, and Senator McGuire agrees with the staff summary that states: “The program not only reduces (as opposed to maximizing) coastal public access parking, it also equates in some ways to a prohibition on beach access at these locations unless you can pay a fee which disproportionally impacts persons of low income.”

Like many coastal regions north of the Golden Gate, the Sonoma Coast is isolated due to the lack of public transit. Adding yet another barrier will hurt visitor numbers, and it will have an impact on the local economy. Several Coastal Commissioners have said they want visitors who enjoy the coast to be more diverse, and Senator McGuire believes enacting fees on the Sonoma Coast would have the opposite effect of their stated goal.

“Californians deserve a park system that is open to all,” Senator McGuire said. “Rather than continuing this tired battle which is inconsistent with the Coastal Act, let’s work together on a plan that will bring financial stability to our beloved parks for generations to come.”

Senator McGuire represents the entire North Coast from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, including all of the state beaches where, if approved, fees would be charged at eight parking lot facilities limiting access along 35 miles of the Sonoma County coastline.

Senator McGuire’s letter to Coastal Commissioners is attached.