Crystal Cove State Park adds Pay Stations

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New automatic pay stations in Crystal Cove State Park let visitors choose to pay by the hour instead of a flat day-rate, but the California Coastal Commission has not yet granted permission for those pay stations, according to a review of the application and other documents.

The pay stations are currently in place at the Moro, Reef Point and Pelican Point lots, and offer visitors parking at $5 an hour. Day-use parking fees currently are $15, which increased in 2009 from $10 per day.

The park ultimately would add five pay stations in five lots, according to documents filed at the California Coastal Commission’s Long Beach office. On holidays, parking would be completely flat-rate and cost $20 a day, the documents said. Holidays would include the weeks of Thanksgiving, Winter Breaks, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, President’s Day weekend, spring break, July 4, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The park’s original application was filed on May 29 and stated that public access to the park would be improved by allowing visitors to pay hourly or by the day, as well as by letting them use cash, credit or debit cards to pay.

“This project changes the mechanism of collection but does not increase the fees,” the park’s application said, although on holidays the fees in fact would be higher, according to letters included in the application file.

The California Coastal Commission sent the park a notice of incomplete application on June 26, asking for information about the machines’ locations and whether they had been installed and were operational. The notice also asked for clarification on the parking fee schedule. The fee schedule states the hourly rate would be $4, although the machines currently are charging $5.

State parks, according to another letter included in the Coastal Commission’s file, said that the legislative and executive branches of the California government require the park “to be entrepreneurial in how it collects revenue.”

The Orange Coast Parks District, one letter said, “believes it is adequate to provide the Coastal Commission the highest price point fee which may be used at these park units and describe what a floating fee schedule is, however it should not be the Commission’s decision to dictate what fee schedules will be adopted by State Parks when coastal access and view shed issues are not diminished.”

Similar applications have been submitted for San Onofre State Beach, Doheny State Beach and San Clemente State Beach, as well as throughout the state.

The machines in Crystal Cove were installed earlier this year and activated Oct. 1, said Brian Ketterer, a State Parks district superintendent. So far, he said, public reaction has been positive, particularly about having the option to pay by credit or debit cards, and park visitors have increased.

Coastal Commission staff analyst Jeffrey Rabin declined to comment on the application other than to say he was continuing to evaluate whether it was complete.

Once the application is complete, a public hearing will be scheduled, possibly at the Coastal Commission’s February meeting.

By Amy Senk | Reprinted with permission from

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