Senate Committee Approves Bill to Expand Coastal Lodging

 

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June 28, 2017 (SACRAMENTO) California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) today won bipartisan approval of her Assembly Bill 250 by the State Senate panel that oversees natural resources. The proposed law would direct appropriate state agencies to develop plans for creating more low-cost lodging options like campgrounds and cabin rentals for California families visiting the coast.

“Beaches and the coast belong to all of us, but it’s so unaffordable for the majority of families to visit and stay overnight there. Right now, the state isn’t living up to our promise of ensuring public access to the coast,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher said. “We have some work to do to make these public assets accessible and affordable for the middle class.”

Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher pointed to a recent joint study by UCLA and San Francisco State University researchers that highlighted the near total lack of economy lodgings along California’s coast, while illustrating a long-term trend towards luxury resorts that leave millions of Californians unable to afford visiting the coastline their tax dollars go towards preserving and maintaining.

The UCLA/SFSU report, titled “Access for All: A New Generation’s Challenges on the California Coast,” contains a number of findings revealing how low- and medium-income Californians have effectively been priced out of coastal areas when it comes to the cost of lodgings, transportation, parking and other expenses. The report details a decades-long trend away from affordable, economical lodgings in favor of luxury resorts and hotels. In the last three decades, nearly 25,000 economy rooms have been eliminated, and today fewer than 5 percent of coastal accommodations can be considered economy. According to the survey, 62 percent of Californians found lack of affordable access to the coast to be a problem, with 78 percent identifying the cost of parking and 75 percent identifying the costs of lodgings as causes of concern. Additionally, respondents identified the cost of traveling and the lack of easily accessible public transportation to beaches and coastal areas as barriers as well.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher introduced AB 250 to combat these trends that exclude a significant portion of California’s population from enjoying our coastlines and beaches. The legislation will require the California Coastal Conservancy to survey and assess the current availability of affordable overnight accommodations, while also implementing a pilot program to enter into public-private partnerships with coastal landowners to develop new, lower-cost accommodations and to protect existing facilities. The legislation also requires the Coastal Conservancy to develop strategies for increasing the availability of economy lodgings along the coast, and to regularly review and update the Low Cost Overnight Accommodations program to increase its effectiveness.

“Going to the beach is part of the California experience, and we’re shortchanging ourselves by making the coast too expensive for families and working people to visit,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “This isn’t just about protecting access to the coastline for everyone, it’s about giving the next generation the same experiences we had so they will protect and treasure the coastline in the future.”

AB 250 was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on a 7-1 vote. In addition, committee members Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) and Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) agreed to become co-authors of the bill during the committee hearing today.

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