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PD Editorial: Who charges beach fees?

  • Cars lined up to pay entry fee at Doran Beach, a Sonoma County park. (The Press Democrat, 2001)

“Just get away from the shady turf, and baby go catch some rays on the sunny surf.”

— “Catch a Wave,” The Beach Boys

There's nothing like a Beach Boys tune to set the mood for a day at the coast.

And we're thinking about a road trip on Tuesday, which is shaping up as landmark day for visitors to the Sonoma Coast.

You see, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up an application to install parking kiosks at Bodega Head, Salmon Creek, Goat Rock, Russian Gulch and a half-dozen other state beaches in Sonoma County. The parking fee would be $7.

Stick with us, here.

It isn't the pleasure of feeding 28 quarters to a parking meter, or the anticipation of discovering whether the meter will read debit cards, that has us humming surf tunes. You see, the county zoning commission already gave this plan a Bronx cheer, and the supervisors are expected to do the same.

State parks officials will point to fees at other state beaches — $15 at some spots and soon headed to $20 on holidays. Then, there's that legislative mandate to collect authorized fees at parks and beaches.

But, Supervisor Efren Carrillo declared, “You absolutely have to draw the line and protect what I'm describing as a fundamental interest of the people of California, which is access to public beaches.”

That was back in December when the proposal surfaced. Carrillo's district includes the Sonoma Coast, and his resolve hasn't changed. Asked about the state application last week, he told Staff Writer Derek Moore: “Absolutely unacceptable.”

His sentiment appears to be shared by his board colleagues.

So we're quite confident that as soon as they dispose of the state's application, the supervisors will move forthwith to rescind their own $7 fee for using county beaches — Doran Park in Bodega Bay and Gualala Point Park, just north of The Sea Ranch, as well as the Black Point Beach, Pebble Beach, Pinnacle Gulch, Shortail Gulch and Stengel Beach access trails.

The people have a fundamental interest in those beaches, too, don't they?

Surf's up. See you at the beach.

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