Coastside beaches to be closed in budget deal


Posted by on Tue, July 21, 2009

CORRECTION: The original SF Gate story is out of date. We’ll post the correct, final list when it becomes available.

San Mateo’s state beaches, and the Montara lighthouse, are on the list for closure by the state, along with a host of parks in Santa Cruz county, as part of its current budget deal. From the Tom Stienstra in the Chron:

San Mateo County

Half Moon Bay State Beach: Protected beaches span four miles north, with the Coastside Trail extending all the way to Pillar Point Harbor.

Butano Redwoods State Park: Campsites nestled in redwoods, including the least-known trail camp in the Bay Area, along with outstanding hiking (redwood trails) and mountain biking (Butano Rim) make this one of my personal top favorites.

Others of note: Portola Redwoods State Park, Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Montara State Beach, Pescadero State Beach, Point Montara Light Station, Pomponio State Beach, San Gregorio State Beach, Bean Hollow State Beach.

Santa Cruz County

Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve: This is home of the largest mainland breeding colony of elephant seals on the Pacific Coast. One of the best easy wildlife walks in the state.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Here is the No. 1 year-round hiking park in California, with the prettiest series of waterfalls outside of Yosemite, outstanding campgrounds, including backpack sites, and the heart of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. Again, there’s no way anybody is going to keep me out.

Castle Rock State Park: Add it up: Goat Rock’s climbing and views, Castle Falls, Trail Camp, trailhead for Skyline-to-the Sea, picnic sites, views of Big Basin Redwoods and beyond to Monterey Bay. What more could you ask for?

Wilder Ranch State Park: This is the best mountain biking park in California, with a terraced foothill landscape that provides flat spots amid climbs (along with trail along ocean bluff). Access extends to UC Santa Cruz.

Others of note: Año Nuevo State Park, Burleigh H. Murray Ranch, Castro Adobe (Rancho San Andres), Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Lighthouse Field State Beach, Manresa State Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, New Brighton State Beach, Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, Seacliff State Beach, Sunset State Beach, the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Thornton State Beach, Twin Lakes State Beach.


I’m not sure what to say.

We all know that vital services are being cut for real people by this budget. And oil drilling is set to begin off the coast of Santa Barbara.  It seems selfish to complain about closing state parks under the circumstances.

I don’t think anybody knows at this stage what it means to close a state beach. Then there are all the other parks where closure means just that: you won’t have any meaningful access at all.

This calls into question just how protected state land is.  This process is far from over. How long before the Republicans in the legislature call for selling off, or leasing to private operators, our state parks?

This is not just about the state parks. Its time for every one of us to think about what Proposition 13 is doing to our state and the lives of our neighbors.

Today’s email from CA State Parks Foundation says,
>The details are not yet in print, but several sources are confirming that $70 million of the park system’s General Fund allocation will be eliminated, with $62 million backfilled by other funding sources on what appears to be a one-time basis. This leaves the state park system with an $8 million gap, and is expected to result in park closures.  At this time, there is not a list of certain closures, we do not know how many or which parks may be closed as a result of the budget deal.<

Stienstra’s article is dated June 11, 2009—old and hopefully outdated news. Here is an email update on the budget and the parks that I just received from the Calfornia State Parks Foundation

“As you may have heard, last night the Big 5 (Governor Schwarzenegger plus the Democratic and Republican leaders in the State Senate and Assembly) announced they have reached a deal on the state budget.  The details are not yet in print, but several sources are confirming that $70 million of the park system’s General Fund allocation will be eliminated, with $62 million backfilled by other funding sources on what appears to be a one-time basis.

This leaves the state park system with an $8 million gap, and is expected to result in park closures.  At this time, there is not a list of certain closures, we do not know how many or which parks may be closed as a result of the budget deal.

Considering where we started just 8 weeks ago, this outcome is better for state parks than most people could have imagined. We are not finished – the Legislature still needs to approve the budget deal by the end of the week and more details need to come out regarding the parks that will close – but the fact that we’re looking at a much more scaled-down version of park cuts than we started with is welcome news.  It is certainly a testament to the Save Our State Parks Campaign, the tens of thousands of Californians – like you! – who stood up for their parks, and the efforts of all of us that we’ve stared down such a draconian proposal.

In terms of next steps, the deal must be agreed to by 2/3 of the Legislature, and they’re expected to vote on it on Thursday or Friday.  As you can imagine, there are plenty of pieces in this agreement for all sides to hate, but let’s hope there is the will to at least get this passed now, to keep the state moving forward. 

Traci Verardo-Torres
Vice President, Government Affairs”
(California State Parks Foundation)

As a State Parks Volunteer, I am hoping our extraordinary San Mateo coast and redwood parks will not be closed. But as Barry said, it’s not clear exactly what that would mean for beaches etc.


Even if they barricade parking, a lot of the beach property listed is either hiking or biking accessible from my home. A lot of areas are accessible via residential or commercial parking. How will they keep people out? Will they have rangers citing people who simply walk in? Can they afford to patrol the property? Will they bother? I don’t suppose anyone has these answers right now, but it seems like much of this will be an exercise in futility.

Hi Barry,

I’m very disappointed that you posted a ten day old article when there is breaking, up to date info available on such a critical topic.

This is not a matter of taking money from parks to support social services. That would be swallowing the Gov’s frame.

The real situation is that a bunch of no-tax diehards, including the Gov, are making a huge monetary goof. As noted in the comments, this is true unless the Legislature is planning to privatize the parks and I don’t believe this for a minute.

You can’t just close parks. The public will continue to use them and without supervision, the damage to the parks will be more costly than their current bare-bones budget. Someone is just making a statement, picking on a program with broad public support. I haven’t heard which programs are not going to be
cut, like those supporting big business.

We need facts, not 10 day old rumors. We need to hear from Yee and Hill on what exactly is going to be voted on and whether it could pass. We need to be prepared to go to Sacramento to make our voices heard.

This shall not stand!

Dennis Paull

People are still going to use the beaches.
So if the parking lots are locked that means way more on - street parking headaches.  In addition there are safety, security,and trash collection concerns.  We, as a community, are going to have to address these.  Thank you Sacramento!!!

Apologies for posting this without checking the date and thanks to everyone for catching the error.

I’m going to leave this up, because it’s bad form to remove already-posted stories and because the discussion is worthwhile. I’ll correct the story.

Maybe ppl will start to learn that voting yes and any/every “feel good” proposition with $100M+ price tags, will bounce the proverbial checkbook. Maybe we can borrow a page out of the Wash DC rulebook… just run the park system through the deficit (shoot, tha pesky statehood makes it impossible).

And a shocker (sarcasm) to see a bunch of Republican name-calling and Schwarzenegger this-and-that in this thread/website. Lest you forget, the state legislature is going on it’s 40th year in a row of Democrat rule (sans one year in between). You reap what YOU sow. Ya’ll just keep checking the box for incumbent w/ the big “D” never seeking accountability, and “Yes on ___(insert any number/letter here)____” never asking yourselves who’s going to pay for it.

Maintained parks is about #47,166 on the list of things to be concerned about at this point.

Michael shoots a lot of weddings on those beaches, and the bridal couple pays the state a fee to use the beaches for that purpose. If the beaches are “closed” (that won’t stop people from using them, of course), does that mean that the state will no longer be offering the Small Beach Application permit (charging fees) for weddings to be performed there? Isn’t that lost revenue for the state of California?

The implications of this story reach far & wide.  One of the reasons that people travel here are the beaches & parks.  Will that mean fewer visitors to our area?  I think Dennis is right - people are going to use the parks & beaches, regardless. They just won’t be kept up as they are now.

You can dress it up and dance it around the room as many times as you like, but the bottom line is, Schwartzenegger is responsible for this fiasco!  He was so arrogant and so cock-sure that he had ALL of the answers!  HE was going to show the democrats how it should be done in governing the state of CA.  We are worse of now than we’ve EVER been!  The budget could/should/would have been taken care of long ago, but he was SO determined to make sure that HIS personal/pet issues were addressed.  And each time the democrats presented a new budget, he would reject it because it STILL didn’t cater to his ego enough!!  Now, we ALL must pay for his arrogance!

Political Agendas aside, there are so many different impacts these closures with have, each (ex)Park will have its own unique set of issues. I’m interested to find out if the Governor and his team have really thought this through beyond the $ signs. For instance I see Año Nuevo State Park is on the list, what about the elephant seals? So the public will be locked out of the park? How? Imagine unsuspecting visitor wandering onto the beach during breeding season, bull elephant seals will charge kill humans if seen as a threat.

My general concerns for all closed State Parks are as follows (I know some of these have already been raised):

1. Will the public be kept out, if so how? Difficult on all our beach parks, what about access for surfing and fishing etc?
2. If the parking lots are closed people will just park on the streets, that will be a dangerous situation, particularly along Highway One.
3. No lifeguards, we all know the consequences of that one.
4. Trash collection, will the county now be responsible? Will the existing Park trash cans be removed? The fallout of this will be devastating to the environment, people will just leave trash in piles to rot.
5. Will existing warning and safety signs remain or be removed? Again, dangerous consequences.
6. Who will have Jurisdiction, The Sheriff?
7. Without control some of our beaches could become party places, fires, trash, fireworks, and unregulated camping.
8. With no State control vehicles on the beach will become a problem, 4x4s, ATVs, Motocross bikes tearing up the beach and bluffs.
9. Fire control, unregulated fires will be a problem particularly in our wooded Parks.

I could go on and on, the point I’m making is you can’t just ‘close’ a State Park, we need a plan. and I want to know what that plan will be after the parks are abandoned, because I see none at the moment.


Kevin, this is a Republican budget.  There is nothing in this budget that the Democrats would have done if they had been able to pass a budget with a majority vote.

The correct way to do this would be to put the Democrats in the hot seat and let ‘em pass what they wanted and have the Gov sign it and let the voters decide if they liked the result.

The Republicans are ruling from the minority because of the 2/3 requirement and the fact that they hold the Governorship. The current 2/3 requirement is a right-wing pseudo-populist measure that is designed to make the state ungovernable, and serve the wealthy at the expense of the helpless. it’s fundamentally undemocratic and will ultimately lead to chaos.

None of this should be taken as approval of the Democrats in Sacramento, who have only distinguished themselves by being less corrupt and cynical than the Republicans. But democracy continues to be better than the alternative.