County park user fees climbing

Just two months after a broad range of user fees at Flood Park were approved, park officials were back before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday asking for more — and getting what they want.

Fee increases will now apply in parts of Loma Mar’s Memorial Park, namely the Jack Brook Horse Camp area. The site’s baseball field reservations, firewood and filming and maintenance fees will see a cost-of-living boost beginning July 1, county Parks Superintendent Gary Lockman said.

Nearly a dozen fees at the site will increase anywhere from $2 to $20 and hit many of the park’s 124,000 annual visitors in the pocketbook.

Baseball field reservations for adult practices will creep up from $64 to $67, with game reservations going from $125 too $130. Youth practice costs will increase from $23 to $25 and game prices will rise from $45 to $50.

Changing a camping reservation will now cost $10, up from $5. Commercial filming costs will increase $20 to $640, while still photography will cost $217, up $7.

Collectively, the increases will bring in about $3,700 in additional revenue for county parks, which saw a 5.9 percent cost increase in its $7.9 million annual budget in the last year, Lockman said.

The fee increases are needed to keep up with higher prices for maintenance materials and staff salaries, Lockman said. Since 2004, the county Parks and Recreation Department has struggled to meet park users’ needs with 55 workers, just two-thirds the staff it had three years ago, Lockman said.

San Carlos Mayor Tom Davids, a regular weekend hiker who leads groups on weekend walks around many of the county’s open spaces, said the modest increases won’t rile park visitors. That sentiment was shared by Julia Bott, executive director of San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation.

Regular incremental increases targeting specific parks is the only way for the county to recover costs, especially after a failed attempt to pass a one-eighth-cent parks sales tax last November, Davids said. The tax would have raised an estimated $15 million a year for parks maintenance and upgrades throughout the county.

ecarpenter@examiner.com


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