Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 8:23 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Letter to the Editor: Beach Parking Fees Not a Fair Solution

In representing two organizations, we many times find ourselves supporting common positions, which is the case for opposing the proposal to charge fees at our county beach parks.

The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County now has 10 sites with more than 5,000 youth members and their families attending yearly. The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce has close to 400 member businesses and organizations with an estimated 15,000 employees in southern Santa Barbara County.

The Boys & Girls Clubs provides field trips to county beaches throughout the year, from Carpinteria to Lompoc, as a free service to these youngsters. In some cases, this opportunity is the only time they will visit our California coastline and experience what comes natural to most of us.

If the Boys & Girls Clubs would have to pay daily for our trips to enjoy Mother Nature, we would not have the financial needs to support. And passing on the fee to our members is not possible. Close to 60 percent of these member families are at or below the poverty line. If I could put this in real terms, we charge a nominal $20 a year for membership. Some of these families can’t afford these fees and work it off or pay monthly, as it is a true hardship to their limited finances.

We also know that a lot of our families do try to enjoy their county beaches within their communities on both weekends and weekdays. As Santa Barbara city lots and state beaches continue to charge fees, and are unaffordable to many, the beauty of having our county parks is the legacy of great locations, family amenities, and free and ample parking.

This common theme transcends all individuals and families, including our employee base represented by all the chambers of commerce throughout our county. The feeling of a pride of ownership prevails for all who have enjoyed the benefits and have already paid for the privileges that we have entrusted to our government to manage these pubic assets.

To even consider asking those that can least afford it to scratch together money that they don’t have; or ask our taxpaying citizens to pay again for services already baked into our societal cost, is questionable. The citizens didn’t produce this imbalanced budget, but do feel they entrusted elected representatives to balance all goods and services of county government with a sustainable revenue budget.

Don’t continue to raise the cost of living on the backs of all working citizens as the path of least resistance. Please go back to the drawing board and find common solutions that work for common folks.

Michael Rattray
CEO, United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County
Chairman, Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce

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