Californians Love the Beach, But Can We Afford It?

Ideally, kids from all over California can enjoy its beaches. Photo: Delphine Ducaruge

The Inertia

You love the beach, right? Of course you do! Well, so does the rest of California. According to a recent statewide survey, nine out of ten Californians say the coast is important to them personally. Even more, three out of four respondents say they visit the beach at least once a year, with many coming much more frequently. But even though a large share of Californians live in coastal metropolitan areas, few of them have easy access to the 1,011 public beaches and parks within California’s coastal zone. In “Access for All,” researchers Jon Christensen and Philip King offer some much-needed advice on how to increase equitable access to our beaches.

First thing first, a little history. In 1976, the state legislature adopted the California Coastal Act agreeing that the coast “is a distinct and valuable natural resource belonging to all the people.” Pushing things further, it stated that protecting our beaches is a “paramount concern to present and future residents of the state and nation.” Sure the beaches are crowded. But the California Constitution asserts that it’s our duty to provide “maximum access” for all people. Pretty democratic of us right? Well, as per usual, this has been easier said than done. Despite decades of efforts by the California Coastal Commission, the State Coastal Conservancy, and many local partners the report’s findings aren’t so sunny. Here’s are the stats:

– 62% of voters think access to the coast is a problem.

– 78% are frustrated by the lack of affordable parking.

– 68% don’t have access to beach-bound public transportation.

– And 75% cited a lack of affordable overnight accommodations, the majority of which were latino and families with children.

View the complete article here on The Inertia.