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."