Facing a $33 million budget shortfall, the state parks department wants to charge visitors at some Sonoma County beaches $8 a day to park their vehicles, prompting a flurry of criticism from those who say that access to the coast should be free and open to all.
The state agency is focusing on Goat Rock in Jenner, Bodega Head, Salt Point State Park, Stump Beach, Portuguese Beach and several others beaches, according to an article in Tuesday’s Press Democrat.
The move is aimed at closing the budget shortfall and generating revenue for park operations and maintenance, according to the Press Democrat.
But opponents, including veterans of the "Free Our Beaches" protests in the early 1990s, argue that charging for parking could limit access to beaches.
"You can't charge people to breathe the ocean air and to see the sunset. It's an unconscionable act," said former Sonoma County Supervisor Ernie Carpenter, who helped lead the effort to defeat the state's plans two decades ago.
Two public meetings will be held to discuss the proposal along with other ways to fund state parks. The meetings will be on Wednesday, June 6 at the Bodega Bay Grange and Monday, June 11 at the Monte Rio Community Center. Both meetings start at 6pm.
Then tell us, do you support the state charging $8 to access beaches?