By Jennifer Savage | Published 2017/03/21
For immediate release: March 20, 2017
Contact: Nicole Lampe, Resource Media, 415-341-4521
Coastal cabin bill sails through Assembly Natural Resources Committee AB 250 Would Expand Coastal Access by Providing More Affordable Lodging
Sacramento, CA – Today, Assembly Bill 250 (AB 250), sponsored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee with a 7-1 vote. AB 250 would help Californians of all incomes and backgrounds access the coast by increasing the supply of cabins and other lower-cost overnight accommodations.
Coastal access is guaranteed to all Californians by the state constitution and the 1972 Coastal Act, but rising costs are making it difficult for some families to visit the public beaches and parks along the state’s 1,100 mile coastline. The Coastal Act requires “Lower cost visitor and recreational facilities be protected, encouraged, and, where feasible, provided,” but current efforts are not keeping pace with the need.
“Everyone deserves a chance to play in the sand, and breathe fresh salt air. But rising hotel costs are pricing many California families out of the chance to experience these simple pleasures,” said Marce Gutierrez-Graudins of Azul. “I thank Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher for her leadership to make sure this democratic commons is truly accessible to all Californians.”
A recent study by the UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability identified the rising cost of overnight stays as a significant barrier to coastal access. In a statewide poll, UCLA found that 75 percent of respondents identified a lack of affordable places to stay as a problem, especially those who must travel from places like the Central Valley or Inland Empire. A 2016 Coastal Commission study found that 24,720 coastal economy rooms have been lost since 1989, and now comprise only 5 percent of available lodging. The Commission’s study found that the average cost of a coastal economy room during the summer ranges from $135 to $260 a night, far more than many Californians are willing or able to pay.
AB 250 would establish a program at the State Coastal Conservancy for proactively investing in projects to build affordable cabins, hostels, and campsites at state and local parks and other publicly owned lands. It would also authorize the Conservancy to create a pilot program to test ways of making privately owned coastal accommodations more affordable, in partnership with willing owners of privately owned hotels, motels, and other accommodations.
The Conservancy’s program would focus on making supported projects available to low-income and middle-income families, as well as to nonprofits and public entities that provide young or at-risk populations with education, service learning, and similar outdoor opportunities. Projects could be supported by funding from a variety of sources, including philanthropic funds and other private sources.
“In my role at Outdoor Outreach, I have seen time and again how life changing a visit to the coast can be for kids,” said Ben McCue of Outdoor Outreach. “There are opportunities for applied science, learning, and service, of course, but it’s the sense of wonder that stays with people. I appreciate Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher’s efforts to make sure every kid in California has a chance to experience that wonder.”