Board of Supervisors supports Parks recommended changes to beach access and Park fees

The board unanimously approved ordinance amendments related to parkland dedication, or in lieu, fees, park impact fees and trail and coastal access dedication. The fees, lower than that of neighboring jurisdictions, have failed to meet the rising cost of acquiring parkland and construction for more than 20 years. The fees are used to develop new or existing parkland facilities to accommodate the county’s growth, Gaffney explained in his report. Because the fees have not been increasing with the costs, the county’s Capital Improvement Program in this fiscal year identified more than $94 million in unfunded projects that could aid mitigation of increased population and, therefore, increased park demand. In terms of trail and coastal access dedications, the word “beach” will now be changed to “coastal access” throughout and the minimum public shoreline access easement width is increased from 5 feet to 10 feet. It appears that easements for current beach access paths for Public Parks will be widened from 5 to 10 feet, to access costal beaches. This would impact beaches such as Twin Lakes, Blacks Beach, and Moran Lake.

FOWLER PACKING COMPANY et al. v COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION

Petitioners are five property owners with a private driveway easement on Geoffrey Drive,
Santa Cruz, located on a bluff above Twin Lakes State Beach. Petitioners challenge the Coastal
Commission’s jurisdiction to (1) reverse the County’s exemption determination on their
application for a Development Permit to install a gate and fence on their easement; (2) require
Petitioners to either remove the gate and fence or apply for a Coastal Development Permit
(CDP); and (3) impose civil penalties if Plaintiffs refuse to remove the gate and fence to allow
public access to Twin Lakes State Beach. The CA Superior Court ruled that the CA Coastal Commission does not have the authority to impose unreasonable fines and fees to an approved application for Coastal Development Permit, after it has been approved by Santa Cruz County in accordance to it’s approved Local Coastal Plan.