Friday, December 27, 2013

January Coastal Commission Meeting, January 8-10, 2014


Here is a map showing the locations of items on the agenda of the January 8th-10th California Coastal Commission meeting.  In each place mark is a link to the agenda item staff materials.  Here is a link to the full map site: January 2014 Coastal Commission Agenda Map

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December California Coastal Commission Meeting, Dec 11-12, 2013


Here is a map showing the locations of items on the agenda of the December 11 & 12th California Coastal Commission meeting.  In each plaemark is a link to the agenda item staff materials:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

California Coastal Commission, Nov 13-15th, 2013


We're always trying to find ways to help publicize the actions of the California Coastal Commission.  Here is a map of California, showing the locations of actions being considered at the Commission's meeting on November 13th to 15th in Newport Beach.

If you have difficulty seeing the map, clicking on the following link will take you to it directly - CCC Meeting Map

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sonoma County Iron Ranger Letter to the Board of Supervisors


Here is a letter sent to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors opposing the instalation of iron rangers on the Sonoma coast.

June 12, 2013

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 100 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

RE: State Parks appeal regarding Iron Ranger placement at the Sonoma Coast

Dear Chair Rabbit and Supervisors:

Coastwalk California, a 30 year old statewide 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, was initially founded to support public access to our coastline as called for in Proposition 20 and the California Coastal Act.  The first "Coastwalk" was actually a protest march along the Sonoma coast with a goal of calling attention to coastal public access issues. This first "coastwalk" was so much fun that the participants decided to hold "coastwalks" every year, inviting the public on coastal camping expeditions that would educate participants about coastal preservation and public access.  In keeping with our commitment to public access we feel compelled to express our concern about State Parks permit applications  for installing "iron rangers" at various sites along the Sonoma Coast.

Coastwalk is a big supporter of State Parks and the State Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR). We consider State Parks to be one of our most important partners.  We understand that State Parks has been directed to identify revenue sources that will help restore its fiscal health and long term sustainability.  So, we do not want to seem obstructionist when it comes to supporting the agency's path to financial redemption.  However, from a long term policy perspective, we believe that State Parks should be reversing the trend toward ever higher fees, particularly in the coastal zone, and moving back toward policies that will eventually make State Parks properties, which are owned by the public, more financially accessible.  Specifically, the Coastal Act calls for free access to the coast and the substantial parking fees facilitated by the installation of "iron rangers" negate free access.   Perhaps, given the State's current fiscal situation, fees may be a short term remedy, but current policies should be set with an eye to the long  term goal of ensuring free access.  Ever rising parking fees have been implemented in Southern California, pricing many people off the beach.  Setting the president of charging fees in Sonoma County, where fees for State Beaches have never been charged in the past would seen to establish a trend that goes in the wrong direction.

Coastwalk believes that parking fees are a very real barrier to public access, particularly to the large population of low income residents living in inland areas. This is a social justice issue and a public access issue. Public transit to coastal beach destinations is very  limited.   The primary viable method for arriving at the beach is the automobile - so, charging to park at the beach is, in effect, charging to access the beach.

Parking fees are in reality a very regressive tax.  Lower income individuals, and the middle class, are paying a much higher proportion of their income to access public property (the beach) than those who have greater means. Additionally, in most area of California,  those of greater means are more likely to live near the beach and therefore will not need to use parking facilities. Parking fees, in effect, ensure that lower income people do not go to the higher income neighborhoods where many beaches are located. The parking fees charged in recent years, which can no longer be called "modest", ensure that the beach has ceased being a "low cost visitor serving facility".
Parking fees also place an undue burden on surrounding neighborhoods, municipalities and jurisdictions.  When fees are high at State Beach lots, many beachgoers choose to park on side streets and elsewhere.  This creates a cost to local government for law enforcement  and a nuisance to homeowners.  Business owners may also be negatively  impacted by beachgoers monopolizing  customer parking. Environmental damage will likely occur from people parking on the road in rural areas and walking through sensitive habitat to access the beach.  Local government is very short on resources.  There simply are not enough county personnel to adequately police the areas impacted by the predictable changes in coastal user behavior should these fees be implemented.

The word "fee"  implies that it is offsetting a specific cost.  Are parking "fees" actually tied to the cost of capital investment in parking lots and facilities, or to the operation of the parking lots.? Are the fees offsetting the cost of restrooms or the availability of lifeguards?  Fees are being charged indiscriminately regardless of amenities available at a site.  Additionally, if the fees are actually levied to support amenities other than parking, then the few  beach-goers who are able to use transit to arrive at the beach  are not shouldering their proportion of the burden of operating these amenities, so therefore the fees are arbitrary in nature. Coastwalk hopes to see these issues examined by the new Parks Forward Commission as it works to develop policies that will sustain our Parks System while hopefully enhancing access for all of the public.  In the Parks Forward Commission's  mission to make our Parks system more relevant to California's changing demographics, the issue of financial barriers to access must be addressed.

In the long run, significant parking fees may be needed to motivate beachgoers to forgo using their cars and motivate them toward using transit in the future.  We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as is called for by State policy.  However,  motivating beachgoers toward transit requires that an affordable and viable transit system be available.  Viable transit means that beachgoers be able to get to the beach from inland areas in a reasonable amount of time.  Affordable and viable transit is not available along the coast in most areas of California at this time.  Until a robust affordable transit system exists, significant parking fees constitute a substantial barrier to coastal public access since there is not a reasonable alternative to accessing the beach without an automobile.

The people of California voted for the Passage of Proposition 20 in 1972 largely in support of beach access. They envisioned free access to their public property, our beaches and coastline.  Taxpayers expect access to the properties and amenities that their taxes have paid for.  Access to free recreation is vital to our health, both physical and mental, and creating financial barriers to it gives rise to more costs than savings in the long run.  Beach access is a huge positive economic driver.  State Parks deficit is small relative to the State's as a whole AND relative to the economic activity generated by access to our coastline and the recreation opportunities provided by the State Parks system. Public support of common infrastructure does generate private economic benefit therefore publically owned assets need not be treated as profit centers that must generate fee based revenues since their positive economic effect is realized in private economic activity and its resulting tax revenue.

For all of these reasons, we find it totally unacceptable for these collection devises to be installed.  Please uphold Sonoma County's long tradition leadership of supporting coastal public access by just saying no to iron rangers! 

Thank you so much for considering our comments.


Una J. M. Glass
Executive Director,  Coastwalk California

Friday, May 31, 2013

Google CCT Map Project


Several years ago, I promised Don Nierlich that I would carry on his dream of improving Coastwalk's Online California Coastal Trail (CCT) Maps. Almost 500 detailed maps had been created, identifying the locations of public access points for the CCT, and including photos and information related to public amenities. Visually stunning at the time of their development, current challenges are to add more content, improve their quality, and make them more accessible online.

Innovations by Google in Google Maps and Google Earth have provided an opportunity to link our map database to customized presentations residing on our website and blogs, and to utilize the information within our current program to support the California Coastal Trail Association.  Using the public access points as the online homes of important content all along the Trail, we can support the efforts of CCT activists in local government, Coastwalk California chapters, and the general public.

The Prezi embedded below describes the online architecture of our initial structure of the data and its presentations.  We encourage your thoughts through this post's comments feature on how we might improve the project's design.