Cost of state beach parking increases

Annual vehicle parking passes will go up to $195 starting May 1. The increase will affect six beaches in Orange County.

April 25, 2012|By Michael Miller

For some, living near the beach in Orange County is a priceless luxury.

But actually going to the beach — by car, anyway — is about to get a little pricier.

The California Dept. of Parks and Recreation announced this month that annual vehicle passes at state parks will increase from $125 to $195.

Among the locations affected are six in Orange County: Crystal Cove State Park and Bolsa Chica, Huntington, Corona del Mar, San Clemente and Doheny state beaches.

The department announced April 12 that it would raise the price of several annual passes, including those for vehicle use, on May 1.

The cost for single-day use and camping fees will remain the same in most areas, although some regional superintendents may adjust fees for specific parks, spokesman Roy Stearns said.


The department cut $11 million from its budget last year and expects an identical cut this year. The higher charges are meant to curb some of that loss.

Stearns said he hopes the increased fees will bring in between $1 million and $1.5 million in added revenue. The state was set to close 70 parks in July, although donors and partners have come through with funding to keep 16 of them open.

The funds from the higher annual pass fees are meant to alleviate the burden on some of the parks remaining open.

"This is truly one more way to achieve some additional revenue," Stearns said. "Is it enough to keep a park from closing? No. It's a small amount of money, but we're hoping to mitigate the number of service reductions we've been doing all across the state."

The department, he said, has reduced bathroom cleaning, open hours, garbage pickup and other services.

None of the parks slated for closure are in Orange County. The area's coastal parks are among the state's most profitable, according to Stearns.

"SoCal beaches get some of the highest visitor-ship, therefore some of the highest revenue," he said. "Those places come closest to breaking even."

Marty Bounds, a manager at Jack's Surfboards in downtown Huntington, said many of his customers have annual passes. The increased fee might prove difficult for some, he said, but some might be willing to shell out if walking to the beach was the only alternative.

"If you're going to Huntington State Beach, you'd have to park at, like, Edison High School," Bounds said. "And for Bolsa Chica, you can't park anywhere. You'd have to park up Warner [Avenue] in Sunset Beach, where the water tower used to be. That's far."

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