H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

May 17, 2011 8:47 PM by Ariel Wesler

SB County considers charging for beach parking

Starting next year, you could have to shell out cash to park at your favorite Santa Barbara County beach.

The county has proposed parking fees at all seven of its beach access parks. Fees could range from $3-$8 per day. The Parks Department estimates that could generate $3-$7 million a year in additional revenue.

The county parks department really sees this as a necessity. Right now, it cannot afford to make repairs to its aging infrastructure. At the same time, the department is seeing dwindling dollars from the county's general fund.

Santa Barbara County has seven beach access parks. A day use fee is already in place at Jalama Beach. Currently, Santa Barbara County is one of the few agencies in Southern California that does not charge for beach parking.

The county is still deciding how fees would be collected. Some options include self pay stations, electronic kiosks, or an attendant. A $3 fee would allow the parks department to eliminate its dependence on the general fund. The director says anything higher than that would go into a reserve fund for emergency maintenance.

The Parks Department will return to the Board of Supervisors in mid-August with further details. If approved, the proposal would head to several other agenicies, including the coastal commission.

The county says the parking fees could take effect as early as next spring.

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