As you have all seen, the visitors to our beaches have been overwhelming this year – undoubtedly the worst possible year for such an influx. Surveys at Steelhead beach show that over 50% of visitors came from the East Bay area. With Labor Day weekend almost upon us, we are all concerned how visitors to the area will impact our neighborhoods.
Today the teams from District 4 and District 5 (Supervisors Gore and Hopkins) met to discuss solutions with representatives from CHP, Sonoma County Sheriff, Dr Mase and the Health department, Regional Parks, Code Enforcement, and Transportation and Public Works. Unfortunately the meeting was later than planned. It was originally scheduled for last week, but fire priorities understandably got in the way.
Short term we are addressing this challenge with the following:I. working to stop Sacramento and Bay Area tourists with messaging through media and messaging asking that, in deference to the fires and COVID, that they stay home this weekend.II. Electronic signage from TPW reminding people not to trash the river, to wear masks, to keep social distance.II. More rangers in Regional Parks to educate and enforce regulations. We have found that closing the parks altogether simply moves them down into neighborhoods and other access points that have less capacity to deal with them. So while we will have the parks open, we will also have much greater staffing.III. CHP is fully staffed and has added two extra staff specifically for Bodega Bay and the Russian River. Their primary focus will be safety issues such as speeding and drunk driving, and they will also be ticketing illegal parking. If you have a situation where your driveway or a roadway are fully blocked, you can call CHP’s non-emergency number and they will tow. That number is 707-641-8300.IV.
The Sheriff’s office is alert to the problem areas and will be answering calls of trespassing and law breaking.
At the same time we have been working hard, in between disasters, on several longer term programs that will also help the situation.
Parking/Shuttle: Regional Parks had a parking/shuttle service set up to launch this past spring, but it was delayed by COVID. This system will reduce the parking issues, provide for education and facilities for users, and allow parks to space out the users.II. Educational and Engagement: We will be rolling out a program to engage visitors and residents alike in a “Keep Tahoe Blue” type campaign that will educate and engage everyone in better stewardship of the river.III. Residential Parking Permit program with parking enforcement personnel.
All of these should be in place by 2021.
In the meantime, we are fully staffed and what county resources can be brought to this issue will be in force over Labor Day weekend.