Montara State Beach has “poor attendance” according to state

Posted by on Tue, July 28, 2009

Montara State Beach is one of the state parks with the lowest attendance in the Bay Area. This will be one of the factors in determining which parks are closed, reports the County Times.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation is not releasing a new list of sites that may be on the chopping block to avoid pointless speculation and panic among parks lovers, said spokesman Roy Stearns. The $9 million in cuts — $8 million to the department’s operating budget — will likely translate into 30 to 50 park closures across the state.

Had Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original proposal to cut $70 million not been averted by drawing on new funding sources at the last minute, 220 of 279 state parks would have been closed and hundreds of parks employees laid off. ...

Any remaining park closures will be based at least partly on attendance as a major criterion, Stearns said. Bay Area parks with comparatively poor attendance include Portola Redwoods State Park and Montara State Beach in San Mateo County, Eastshore State Park in Berkeley, Angel Island State Park in Marin, and Henry W. Coe State Park in Morgan Hill.

This story is based on a report of state park attendance acquired by Julia Scott at the County Times. Here are the numbers for Coastside parks:

San Mateo Coast Sector Paid Day Use Free Day Use Camping Total Class
Año Nuevo SNR 61,730 86,234 0 147,964 State Natural Reserve
Año Nuevo SP 333 9,128 0 9,461 State Park
Bean Hollow SB 0 294,466 0 294,466 State Beach
Big Basin Redwoods SP 111,647 623,145 98,543 833,335 State Park
Burleigh H. Murray Ranch 0 14,371 0 14,371 Unclassified Historic/Cultural Park
Butano SP 17,606 57,725 15,666 90,997 State Park
Castle Rock SP 9,524 66,668 2,140 78,332 State Park
Gray Whale Cove SB 0 38,290 0 38,290 State Beach
Half Moon Bay SB 108,554 826,044 55,808 990,406 State Beach
Henry Cowell Redwoods SP 85,251 578,004 48,134 711,389 State Park
Montara SB 0 81,534 0 81,534 State Beach
Pescadero SB 7,170 383,721 0 390,891 State Beach
Pomponio SB 9,772 203,750 0 213,522 State Beach
Portola Redwoods SP 12,464 410 33,759 46,633 State Park
San Gregorio SB 50,637 377,316 0 427,953 State Beach
Thornton SB 0 0 0 0 State Beach
Totals 474,688 3,640,806 254,050 4,369,544


I’m interested as to how you record the number of visits to an unmanned State Park with no paid parking. 81,534 seems a very precise number. So Montara Beach looks like it will be on the chopping block after all.


Anyway, we beat Thornton SB in attendance at least. I also wonder what the Sate Parks would consider to be good attendance for Montara, each Park is different in size etc, so it’s not really apples to apples is it?


It appears, according to Paul Keel as reported by the San Mateo Times, that beaches and other parks may be seasonally closed rather than closed outright. I’m sure that all the parks get more use in the summer time, including the local beaches.

For example, even though HMB State Beach gets almost 1M visitors annually, very few of them are on Monday through Thursday in months from October through March (surfers excepted) by my guess. And I am out on the beach almost every Sunday afternoon.

It would sure make sense to simply reduce the staffing during the low use times than try to ‘close’ a park and try to keep folks out.

The busiest visitor days bring in a lot of revenue to local firms. It would be self defeating to close any parks then. But when no one is there anyway except some locals, why carry a full staff?

I know this won’t go over very well with some of my Ranger/Lifeguard friends, but they are in a difficult predicament in any case.

The state parks budget issue is getting far more attention than its relative importance in the budget cuts, which makes me believe it is simply part of a game top siphon off attention from larger money issues. This may also be part of the long-time right-wing push to monetize the parks with more user fees and even by selling off some park land or extracting resources (logging, mining, etc.) from some of the parks.

The question of how the annual use figures are generated is…hmm…interesting.

I have no idea what the totals are for any of these parks, but I do have some impressions on comparative use. Pomponio at 2 1/2 times Montara? No way. I also doubt all of us using Montara Mountain (an inland extension of Montara State Beach) regularly for hiking and biking and the many additional others who use it for the same activities on weekends are counted at all.

The daily average of 223 for Montara probably works for weekdays, but per day usage on weekends is a multiple of any weekday figure. Then there are the hikers and bicyclists on the mountain who park at Grey Whale Cove. Are they accounted for?

Carl, right you are on the park cuts being a cover for the lack of cuts in certain other programs. The Parks Department will need to cut its budget however it sees best and we don’t have a clue yet how it will decide to do that.

Those park/beach use numbers are way too precise to be real. Please note that some parks don’t collect parking fees and that will surely change. They will either start charging or will lose staff support.

It is interesting to think about the State Parks Foundation’s role in cutting the budget. They are a pretty substantial lobby.

At Montara Beach what State Parks presence/expense is there besides servicing the bathroom (assuming any capital projects are not going to be happening at this time anyway)?

Could County Parks take over servicing that bathroom?  I wonder what level/organization of local resident support it would take to convince the State to let us adopt this beach and keep the parking lots open?

I wonder how State and Local government and interested groups will communicate about possible cutbacks or closures, so some creative solutions might be found, or whether announcements will just be made, and barriers put up.

Hi Lisa,

Let’s hope that the State Parks looks at this as a budgetary problem and makes rational decisions about what and where to make the cuts.

I suggest that you contact the State Parks Foundation and to Supervisor Paul Keel whose office is in HMB at the Ranger Station.

If keeping Montara Beach open ‘only costs a small amount’, then not much is saved by closing it and much could be lost.