The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is considering putting parking fees in place as the national parks to lighten the skyrocketing operations expenses as it records crowds of visitors.
The Presidio, Marin Headlands, and Stinson Beach are covered by GGNRA.
But the proposal asking for a parking fee of $3 per hour or $10 per day at eight sites in Marin County and San Francisco is opposed by the members of the Congress, a dog advocacy group, as well as around 900 letter-senders. For a long time, parking fees in these sites, where Baker Beach, China Beach, Rodeo Beach, and Lands Ends were covered, did not charge anything.
Despite the disapproval, GGNRA told The Chronicle on Thursday that they are looking into the proposal but would resist charging at least in some areas.
Those who are against the proposal cite difficulties for visitors to spend their time at GGNRA, especially the need for open spaces which was highlighted with the current pandemic.
“It’s a terrible time to raise fees like this,” according to Rep. Jared Huffman. “During the pandemic, I think we’ve really gained a new appreciation for how access to the outdoors and these public places is so critical. Surely we ought to be able to find a way to keep these places accessible without pricing people out.”
But the crowds for GGNRA and several national parks trigger difficult problems. It entails traffic congestion and puts heavy load on ranger staff, emergency responders and maintenance personnel. Also, more visitors result in the wearing off of historical and natural landmarks.
From 281 million, annual visits to national parks increased to 328 million for the 2010 to 2019 period, pushing park officials to think of options to minimize the impacts.
According to GGNRA officials, charging parking fees would give them an annual $300, 000 for each site to handle operations and facilities expenses. The amount that will be generated will go to the park, which gets 80 percent; and the remaining goes to Washington, which will then be reallocated across the park system.