Shelling out more to go to the beach
The city of Half Moon Bay is moving to a flat-rate charge for parking at Poplar Beach that will bring in more revenue in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis. Photo courtesy Steve Maller

The city of Half Moon Bay is adjusting some of the fees it charges residents and visitors for services. In some instances, higher fees will be charged, beginning in August.

Users will have to pay more through a flat rate fee for parking at Poplar Beach or when they use the newly renovated kitchen at the Ted Adcock Community Center. Professional dog-walkers will have to buy a $200 permit.

The city’s current user fees and deposit amounts were set and approved by the Half Moon Bay City Council after a fee study in 2017. The majority of fees were set to ensure 100 percent cost recovery to the city. At the June 16 City Council meeting, relatively small changes to the fee schedule were approved for fiscal year 2020-21.

One of the city’s well-used sites is the parking lot at Poplar Beach. Under the approved fee changes, parking fees will change from a $2 hourly rate to a flat rate fee of $10 to $15 depending on the size of vehicle. Vehicles or trailers will be allowed to park for a 12-hour period except during the hours of midnight to 5 a.m.

“We had a concern that we do not want to promote camping in the parking lot,” City Manager Bob Nisbet said. “We thought prohibiting parking between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. is a good way to prevent camping.”

Since December the city has been leaving the gate to the parking lot open 24 hours a day to relieve the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office of its duties to open and close the gate daily.

“The beach is open 24 hours a day so it’s better to have people parking in the lot than in the neighborhoods,” Public Works Director John Doughty said.

Mayor Adam Eisen suggested the city could raise fees even more, to $20 per vehicle. Doughty said raising fees more than $10 to $15 would run contrary to the goal of keeping the coast affordable for all, according to the California Coastal Commission. City officials said they modeled the flat rate fees after what California State Parks charges for its parking lots.

In addition to the flat rates, the city is also offering residents two permit parking options. Half Moon Bay residents could already purchase a 12-month permit, which will now cost $165. They can also purchase a 9-month permit for non-peak months for $90.

Other notable updates to use fees include the use of city owned recreation facilities. The Ted Adcock Community Center recently underwent renovations. It now has a working kitchen available for use for events. People renting rooms at the community center will be required to pay an increased security deposit and added fees to the use of the kitchen or additional staff to run an event. Due to budget constraints this upcoming year, city staffing levels have been reduced.

“We’re looking at how to recoup fees to staff these events,” Administrative Services Director Lisa Lopez said.

While many of the fee updates were not surprising, a few were added to address staffing and maintenance issues. For instance, as of Aug. 15, professional dog walkers in Half Moon Bay will be asked to apply for a $200 permit. Doughty said he’s seen people walking seven or eight dogs at a time, creating problems at city parks and open spaces. That means the city has to clean up afterward.

“It will cost us more to manage and deal with, but this is a start,” he said.

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