Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, July 28 @ 3:50 p.m. / Community, Our Culture

Del Norte Will Urge State To Add Permanent Recreation Facilities At South Beach

In addition to working with Crescent City to address jurisdictional concerns at Preston Island, Del Norte County officials hope to start conversations with the state — and take advantage of its budget surplus — to establish permanent recreation facilities at South Beach.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Hemmingsen brought the issue to his colleagues on Tuesday, saying he was hoping for a permanent restroom and garbage facilities along the beachfront area of U.S. 101 south of Crescent City.

Hemmingsen and his colleagues on Tuesday were near-unanimous about asking staff to initiate a “two-by-two” with California State Parks to establish a public use facility at South Beach. District 5 Supervisor Susan Masten was absent.

Assistant County Administrative Officer Randy Hooper said the county has provided temporary restroom facilities and dumpsters in the area over the summer, but officials want to explore a partnership with state agencies like California State Parks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife or Caltrans.

California’s budget surplus has reached a record-high of $97 billion, Cal-Matters reported on June 17.

“From a budget perspective is it worth exploring whether a partnership with a state agency is worth having for the development for what is an underdeveloped heavily used recreational asset in the community,” Hooper told the Outpost. “It could be public restrooms, ADA beach access an informational kiosk, parking improvements into the integration of the coastal trail. And those partners could be maybe even the Harbor District.”

As with Preston Island — which straddles the Crescent City-Del Norte County line along Pebble Beach Drive — jurisdictional boundaries at South Beach are nebulous. According to Hooper, there’s the Crescent City Marsh Wildlife Area, managed by CDFW, to the east, county property on the west and the state highway — managed by Caltrans — bisecting the area.

On Tuesday, Hooper pointed out that South Beach serves as the community’s gateway and is a heavily used, but “roughly developed” recreational asset. He grew up surfing on South Beach. But because of the lack of resources, especially in the summer, it’s become hazardous.

“It’s all kind of disorganized with the way people get on and off the highway and how they park in the parking areas,” Hooper told the Outpost. “So what can we do? We’re looking at it holistically and hope to build partnerships with all different potential partners at the state and local level.”

County residents have complained in the past about people parked along South Beach leaving behind trash and even human waste because of the lack of restroom facilities.

Linda Sutter, who lives in the fifth district, has routinely complained about RVs parked along U.S. 101 in the area. But on Tuesday, she asked if supervisors forgot about sea level rise.

“There are certain high tide times where Caltrans has to sit and monitor debris coming over the roads because of the ocean breaching the roads,” she said. “So I don’t know where you want to put this facility. I think it’s just going to add to more problems.”


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