The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal to implement beach parking fees with a 5-0 vote on Tuesday after the SB county Parks Commission voted against the recommendation in August.

Though parking fees could potentially bring in between $1.58 to $2.48 million in annual revenue, opponents felt that the proposal would decrease beach accessibility and inconvenience companies operating on beachfront property. The proposal’s rejection maintains free parking at Rincon Beach, Loon Point, Lookout Park, Arroyo Burro Beach, Goleta Beach, Ocean Beach and Guadalupe Dunes Park.

Several South County residents felt that parking fees would create a fiscal hurdle for families to regularly use the beach for recreational, community-centered activities. A number of speakers were angered by the proposal, arguing that it discourages them from visiting the beach and that free parking is what makes the community unique.

Officials charged with fashioning the proposal hoped to implement a tiered rate structure that would require anyone visiting one of the county’s seven beaches to pay an hourly fee. The system was based on various models already implemented by local state and city beaches.

In order to gauge public opinion, the commission held three public workshops throughout the summer, during which 86 community members spoke out against instating the fees, citing issues such as income discrimination, overflow parking, damage to local businesses and lack of accessibility. No residents argued in support of the proposal, encouraging officials to explore other methods of raising county funds.

— Staff Report