The proposed implementation of parking fees at county beaches won’t be happening, the Board of Supervisors said emphatically Tuesday morning. Estimates showed the proposal could have generated between $1.6 million to $2.5 million annually, depending on the amount charged and the type of fee collected. But when the idea was most recently floated in July, the public voiced its concerns loudly and often, noting, among other things, the impact to surrounding neighborhoods, less overall access to the beach, and the loss of recreation for low-income families. Over the course of three Park Commission meetings, 86 people spoke in opposition of the fees.
Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf — whose district is home to two of the county’s most frequently used beaches, Goleta Beach and Arroyo Burro Beach — has been adamantly opposed to the idea since it was raised several years ago to help generate revenue. The proposal, along with the idea of charging fees for county parks in general, is done for now. “I don’t believe that the county or my constituents take either of these lightly,” she said. “The outpouring of angst, and … incredible disappointment that we would be considering this was incredibly evident.”
Still, how to generate more revenue remains a central question for the county. Earlier this year, the supervisors decided not to pursue a possible oil tax, and at a separate meeting, they also decided not to raise the county’s hotel bed tax. The county currently charges 10 percent, two percent less than many of the other jurisdictions in the area. The oil tax would have raised between $1.8 million and $3.3 million a year, while the bed tax increase would have brought in an additional $1.1 million annually.