Local News

Jan 6, 2010 1:49 AM by Ariel Wesler

County leaders vote unanimously to raise fees at parks and beaches

Enjoying the outdoors will cost you a little more at Santa Barbara County parks and beaches.

Santa Barbara County leaders voted unanimously tonight to raise user fees at campgrounds, sports fields, and picnic tables. The fee hikes will affect popular campsites at Lake Cachuma and Jalama Beach. The parks department says it's trying to maintain current services while facing a seven percent budget cut.

Fun in the Santa Barbara sun just got a bit pricier.

"I think it's kind of crummy. With the economy the way it is, we try to stay closer to home," said Karen Ebner of Orcutt.

Higher fees are on their way to Santa Barbara County parks and beaches.

Pitching a tent at popular campsites on Cachuma Lake or Jalama beach jumped from $20 to $30 per night. All county campgrounds during the peak season from April to September will cost an extra $5.

"A lot of people are losing their jobs and they just can't afford the cost of living as it is and then with increases, it makes it that much harder to be able to go enjoy camping," said Shelli Stover of Orcutt.

Reserving picnic tables at the parks will run you a flat rate of $60 instead of $45.

"For something like this, it's cheaper than renting out a hotel," Ebner said.

And reserving soccer and baseball fields now costs $15 dollars an hour.

The Parks department says all the new fees will generate around $280 thousand dollars and bring it in line with fees in neighboring counties.

"You either pay it or you lose the parks, and I don't think anyone wants to lose the parks," said Bob Moreno of Santa Maria.

The question remains whether the parks will lose the people.

The Cuyama community pool, which was free since it opened in August, will now charge a $2 entry fee.

The increases take effect immediately. They do not apply to group camping sites, seniors, or the disabled.

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