From East County Today
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) announced on Feb. 3rd a push for more affordable overnight accommodations along the California coast to help ensure that the state’s iconic beaches and shores are affordable and accessible for low- and middle-income residents to visit.
Under Assembly Bill 250, which the Assemblywoman introduced last week, the state agency in charge of preserving the Golden State’s 840 miles of coastline would be required to develop a Low Cost Overnight Accommodations Program in an effort to reverse a troubling trend in which visiting on the coast has become prohibitively expensive for many Californians.
“Our beaches and coasts belong to all Californians, regardless of income,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher said. “We have some work to do to make these public assets accessible and affordable for everyone.”
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.
“This is part of the California experience, and we’re shortchanging ourselves by making beaches 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 introduced on Jan. 30. It will be eligible to be taken up for consideration by policy committee beginning in March.
For more information on AB 250 or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact John Vigna at (916) 319-2080 or (916) 212-0657.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, and Vice Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher visit https://a80.asmdc.org