Paul Wellman

The fourth floor of the County Administrative Building got a taste on Tuesday of how contentious a fight over parking fees at beaches and parks promises to be next month.

Igniting the dispute, conservative watchdog Andy Caldwell complained the fee structure was a double standard. Scores of parking spaces are free at Goleta Beach, he said, while beachgoers at Jalama must pay $10. County Supervisor Janet Wolf, who has been a champion of Goleta Beach, noted the California Coastal Commission prohibited the county from charging for parking there. Plus, she said, residents from all over the county use that beach park; many are low-income.

The issue also appears to defy party politics. While Democratic County Supervisor Das Williams argued in favor of some fees in part because it decreases congestion ​— ​“None of this stuff is free,” he said ​— ​Republican Peter Adam contended that if one county park is free, they all should be. Adam joked: “I’m wondering when Williams was going to re-register as a Republican.”

Adam admitted he was feeling “particularly obnoxious” on Tuesday, and he dissented from voting on the item even though it was simply to set a hearing to look at increasing some parking fees, including for Courthouse weddings and the Junior Lifeguard Program. The meeting will be on June 6.


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