By Emily Turner

BODEGA (KPIX 5) — A battle is coming to a head between beach goers and Sonoma County over proposed new fees the county wants to charge people to park at four beaches.

The coastal commission is now finding itself in the middle of a monumental backlash.

The meeting brought such a turnout they had to move it to the Veteran’s Auditorium.

35 miles of beaches have become the battleground between state parks and Sonoma County government.

The parks system wants to charge a parking fee, but the locals showed up in force to make sure it didn’t happen.

“We are a small community and a rural county and we are sticking together side to side top to bottom,” Keary Sorenson of The King River Alliance said.

Hundreds of public comments echoed what the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors already expressed when they previously, unanimously rejected the state parks fee proposal. But, the state moved forward with the proposal to the Coastal Commission Wednesday anyway.

“I think the state is just looking for money for the coffers,” Beachgoer Darris Nelson said.

The proposal includes installation of self-service automatic payment machines, charging a new fee of $8 per day at Bodega Head, Goat Rock, Shell Beach, and Stump Beach.

For the state, it would add up to $1.5 million in revenue. But, where that money would go is the big question. There are only minimal amenities at the sites, and their roads are maintained by the county. Opponents say those eight dollars will add up to a much grander cost – one they say isn’t worth it.

“Before we install and disrupt and do all this stuff, I would just ask that we look at the money we have,” Parks Activist Alden Homestead said.

 

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