Beginning next month, fees will be raised for certain facilities and services in Marina del Rey and Los Angeles County operated beaches, including recreation programs such as youth water sports camps.

The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, August 18th to approve fee increases for various services and parking lots in Marina del Rey and the RV lot at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey. The parking fee hikes additionally require California Coastal Commission approval and could become effective by October 1st, while all other increases will take effect Tuesday, September 1st.

The raised fees are expected to create $1.35 million in revenue for the county in 2009-10 and an additional $2.3 million in future years. The additional revenue was initially planned to go toward the county’s general fund, but the supervisors approved an amendment introduced by Supervisor Don Knabe to ensure that the revenue is used for the specific facilities where they are collected, Knabe spokesman David Sommers noted.

The county Department of Beaches and Harbors recommended the fee hikes after reviewing which fees were comparable to the market rate and as a way to help offset increased operating costs, department Deputy Director Kerry Silverstrom said.

“We think that the rates are still fair and are within the market. They will assist us in meeting additional obligations,” Silverstrom said.

Among the approved increases are raising the Dockweiler Beach parking lot fees from $7 during the summer weekends to $10, and the fees for Marina Lot 4 near the launch ramp from $5 on the summer weekends to $10. Fees for the Dockweiler RV Park will be raised from $45 for the front row hook-up to $65 and from $43 for the middle row hook-up to $60.

All fees for the youth Water Awareness, Training, Education and Recreation (WATER) program camps, which consist of sailing, surf, Dolphin and ocean sports, will be raised to $165, a minimum $15 increase.

Beaches and Harbors officials pointed out that many of the fees have not been raised for 15 to 20 years. Sommers also spoke of the length of time since the fees had been increased and said they will enable the county to maintain the quality of its services.

“The fees are going to ensure that we can continue to provide the services that the people expect,” Sommers said.

When the county Small Craft Harbor Commission addressed the proposal at a meeting in July, the commission recommended that no fees impacting access to the beach or Marina be raised due to the economic climate, which could discourage the public’s enjoyment of the amenities. The county Beach Commission also expressed concerns with the fee hikes but supported the proposal with its request that concerns be raised if the fees result in less public use of the facilities.

Knabe wanted to ensure that the increases are as equitable as possible and chose to back the new fees to ensure that certain beneficial services were maintained rather than eliminated, Sommers said.

“We would rather have the programs kept open than shut down,” he said.

Silverstrom said department officials understand the financial struggles people are currently facing but they believe that their rates are among the most reasonable in the region.

“We think these are reasonable fee increases,” she said. “We recognize that people are hurting right now but we think we offer one of the cheaper forms of entertainment.”

In regards to the WATER program hikes, the department applies a “sliding scale” that enables families of all incomes to be able to take part in the recreation activities. The department also offers a variety of free programs for the public, including the Summer Concerts and Movie Nights at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey.

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