Supervisors OK increases in park fees
Fees for camping, boat rentals, group picnics, and fishing at county parks will be increased in 2009 and beyond.
The fee increases approved on a 4-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote, with Ron Roberts absent, cover increases effective Jan. 1. In addition, County Department of Parks and Recreation can adjust fees within a category’s range without approval from the supervisors.
The supervisors’ approval also included direction from District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob to have county staff analyze discounts for nonprofit groups.
Many of the fees have been raised to at or near the top authorized amount. Fee range authorization allows for adjustments based on marketplace and seasonal fluctuations, but increased operating and maintenance costs have forced the new fee ranges, reported county staff. Over the past five years automotive fuel costs increased 137 percent, structure maintenance costs increased 76 percent, and utility charges increased 55 percent.
“Visitors appreciate clean restrooms, safe trails, well-maintained campgrounds,” said Doug Goad of the county’s Parks Advisory Committee. “These fees will maintain that high level of service.”
In August, the Parks Advisory Committee unanimously approved proposed changes. The increased fees that will take effect on Jan. 1, will generate an estimated $165,000 of revenue for Fiscal Year 2008-09 and $330,000 of additional revenue for Fiscal Year 2009-10.
During Fiscal Year 2007-08, the Department of Parks and Recreation collected approximately $2.4 million of user fees. Fiscal years go from July 1 through June 30.
“This is a minimal fee adjustment,” Goad said.
Camping site fees per unit vary depending upon season, location and improvements. Existing rates range from $15 to $25 per night while the existing authorized range is between $6 and $25.
The new fees will vary from $17 to $28 per night and the authorized range will allow for fees between $17 and $40. Cabin rentals, now between $30 and $45 per night, will increase to between $30 and $50 per night. Authorized range changes, now between $25 and $50, will go from $30 to $70.
Extra vehicle fees per night, now $2, will be $4.
A new category for extended site occupancy beyond standard checkout time was created. The initial fee will be $5.
Left unchanged were the $5 reservation fee and its $3 to $5 authorized range, the $5 cancelation fee and its $3 to $10 range, and the pet fee of $1 per animal per night along with that fee’s $1 to $5 range.
The county resident camping discount cards that waive reservation fees and provide a $1 camping discount for all sites were unchanged, and the senior or disabled resident discount card remains at $15.
Among other changes approved, organized youth and school group camping areas’ $25 per night fee will go to $40.
A nonprofit discount of 25 percent for all but the lowest fees.
Janis Shackelford, co-president of the Lakeside Historical Society, said that members of nonprofit organizations pay parking fees as well as picnic reservation fees.
“It is going to cost our members too much simply to get into the park,” she said.
While the picnic reservation fee is based on the number of people, the parking fee is per vehicle, so carpools will reduce the fees paid.
“This will be a good incentive,” Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said.
Although neither the current $3 parking fee nor the $2 to $10 range will be changed, commercial bus parking will increase. The annual parking pass fee remains at $40.
There will continue to be no charge for an annual parking sticker for senior and disabled county residents.
Revisions have created discounts for midweek fishing and boating fees.
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