Parking Fees and Social Justice

Tomorrow the California Coastal Commission will take public input on the California State Parks proposal to charge $8.00 to park at several coastal access points in Sonoma County.

State Parks took the commissioners on a bus tour to the sites in question. I expect that State Parks will point out that Sonoma County charges parking fees in County parks, coastal and otherwise.

County Park Fees 4:12:16

Sign at a County Park Entrance Station


But to me, it is beside the point.

The point is that charging fees for parking at coastal access points is socially unjust. It is the wrong way to fund coastal access, particularly for the State which ought be funding parking facilities on the coast through general funds.

Citizens in Sonoma County fought hard to keep our California coastline accessible to the public. We have placed key properties in the care of the California’s State Park system to safeguard the hard-won free public access.

Charging $8.00 to park in a world where the hourly minimum wage is $10 puts an unjust financial burden on exactly the people whose outdoor recreational options other than state parks are limited.

Bodega Head 4:12:16

Bodega Head Parking Lot April 12, 2016

For people working at minimum wate, parking the car will cost about what they earn in a hour. If you make more income than minimum wage, please consider what it is like for them.

Suppose you make twice minimum wage, $20/hour. Would you like to pay $16 to park your car and use the pit toilets common in these facilities?

Shell Beach Sign 4:12:16

Shell Beach 4/12/16

Or suppose you make four times minimum wage, $40/hour (about $80,000 annually). Would you like to pay $32.00 to park your car at Goat Rock?

Goat Rock Parking

Goat Rock Parking Lot 4/12/16

I would not like to pay that much.

The Commission is meeting in Santa Rosa tomorrow to take public input. My hunch is that they’ve already made up their minds and will vote to impose fees to park at these locations.

But that won’t stop me from speaking out. State Parks coastal parking lots should be funded out of general funds. All California coastal access parking lots should be free—statewide, from Oregon to Mexico.

Details about the meeting are in the previous post.

The latest word I’ve heard is that public input will start at about 3:00 PM. Still it’s a good idea to arrive by 1:00 just in case.

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