Soapbox

Working Californians deserve a day at the beach, too

Surfer Mike Maestro Paolo surveys the ocean before going in the water Aug. 1 at Huntington Beach.
Surfer Mike Maestro Paolo surveys the ocean before going in the water Aug. 1 at Huntington Beach. The Orange County Register

While many Californians cooled off at the beach this summer, that classic experience is out of reach for a lot of hardworking families.

Soaring real estate prices on the coast have driven many families further and further inland. The cost of a trip to the beach – gas, parking and food – quickly adds up. In a recent UCLA statewide poll, 90 percent said the condition of the coast is important to them personally and 62 percent said that limited public access to the coast is a problem.

 
Opinion

That is why we are championing a package of bills for beach access for all. For decades, officials have worked to take down fences and gates. Now we must turn our attention to the equally important but less visible barriers posed by high costs and inadequate transportation.

Senate Bill 5 and Assembly Bill 18 both propose bonds to generate funds to build coastal access and recreation projects, as well as local and state parks, with an emphasis on serving working class communities and communities of color that lack access to nature that many of us take for granted.

State parks make up a third of California’s coastline with 1,011 public beaches and parks. It’s critical that agencies like the Department of Parks and Recreation and State Coastal Conservancy have the resources and community partnerships they need.

AB 250 would create a program to support more affordable overnight accommodations in state and local parks on the coast, including campgrounds, cabins, hostels and motels, while protecting the natural and scenic resources.

Our public coastline is a jewel. Our predecessors in state government had the wisdom to designate the coast as public land. Now it is our job to fulfill that promise, and ensure working families from all over the state can enjoy the beach.

Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat, represents Senate District 40 and can be contacted at Senator.Hueso@senate.ca.gov. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a San Diego Democrat, represents Assembly District 80 and can be contacted at Lorena.Gonzalezfletcher@asm.ca.gov.

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