The National Park Service has backed down from its plan to impose parking fees at Stinson Beach and other lots in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The proposal to begin charging visitors drew significant backlash from local officials and community members who voiced concerns over equitable access, crowding and public safety. 

“The park and regional N.P.S. staff are still assessing the comments we received, but we have heard the concerns from our community loud and clear,” G.G.N.R.A. spokesman Julian Espinoza said. “As a result, we are removing coastal parking lots from consideration of this fee proposal for now.”

Still under consideration are new fees for evening tours at Point Bonita Lighthouse and the northwest commuter lot at the Golden Gate Bridge. The recreation area had announced that it would begin charging $3-an-hour fees for parking at Stinson Beach, Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands and Baker and China Beaches in San Francisco, citing high operating costs and dramatically increased visitation. The fees would have been capped at $10 per day and were intended to pay for necessary maintenance, including a new lifeguard tower at Stinson Beach. The recreation area does not charge entrance fees. 

Locals were quick to respond to the proposal. Congestion is a problem in Stinson Beach, especially when the free public parking lot fills up on weekends and beachgoers look for spots along the town’s roads, often blocking emergency access. A parking fee would only exacerbate this problem, many residents feared. 

Eight representatives from the various fire authorities, utility districts and village associations in Stinson Beach and Bolinas signed a letter urging the park to reconsider its fees and extend the 30-day public comment period. “Any implementation of parking fees for the Park will force visitors to seek free parking in the adjacent communities, leading to a dramatic increase in vehicles blocking emergency vehicle access and parking in high fire danger areas,” Stinson Beach fire chief Jesse Peri wrote.

The public comment period on the plan ended without an announcement, but on Oct. 4, United States Representatives Jared Huffman and Jackie Speier signed a letter to the recreation area’s superintendent, Laura Joss, calling on her to drop the proposal. 

“As noted by many of our constituents, access to public lands for people of all income levels is important for social equity and public health,” the members of Congress wrote. “While a parking fee may seem nominal to some, it would be a barrier for others.” 

Reps. Huffman and Speier wrote that they were “taking note” of the park’s financial challenges but could not support parking fees as a means of addressing them. 

“I think it’s a good result,” Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said of the decision. “I hope that it’s good news, I hope that it means [the representatives] will support more funding for the park system, too.”