The first of three County Park Commission meetings on the possibility of beach parking fees revealed what most already knew: The public is very much against the idea. About 40 people showed up Thursday morning, with roughly half telling the Park Commission they are against the idea. Residents of Alan Road, near Arroyo Burro Beach, already see a lot of traffic from beach-goers. They expect it will only get worse if beach visitors have to pay to park. Currently, the idea is general, and whether it’s an hourly fee or a fixed flat rate — or whether fees are recommended at all — remains to be seen.
Summerland residents spoke of how parking spaces have already been recently lost, and beach parking fees would only increase the spotlight on how little parking there is in the tiny town. “Please don’t do this to our community,” said Jeff Melnick, who said he was speaking on behalf of downtown Summerland business owners. “We have already lost enough.”
“The county should be expanding opportunities for beach access, not limiting them,” said resident Alan Howard. Adam White, who along with his father operates the Boathouse, said parking fees could have a huge impact on their business. “We’ve put our heart and soul, as well as our livelihoods, into these restaurants,” he told the board. The next two meetings are August 16 in the County Planning Commission hearing room at 5:30 p.m. and August 23 at 9:30 a.m. in Santa Maria. The Park Commission is planning to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors at its August 23 meeting.