Patrick Sikes / For Hearst Connecticut Media

CT - Lawmaker Wants to Prevent High Beach Fees for Non-Residents

A New Haven lawmaker is trying to stop municipalities from imposing exorbitant fees that restrict many out-of-towners from using public beaches.

Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, introduced a bill that also would prevent communities from barring beach visitors from other towns on grounds that this would prevent COVID-19 spread.

“It doesn’t surprise me that every approach that any of these communities take is to limit who can access public beaches,” Lemar said, calling these measures akin to the racially restrictive land covenants and exclusionary zoning policies that bar many poor Black and Hispanic residents from affluent suburbs.

Connecticut’s shoreline and beaches are “a core asset” that have benefitted from millions of dollars of public investments in clean air and water and park development programs, Lemar said, adding every resident should have an opportunity to enjoy them.

But some shoreline communities say that simply isn’t realistic.

Parking is limited at municipal beaches, and residents should have priority over visitors from out-of-town, some leaders said.

Westport, an affluent Fairfield County community, made headlines three years ago when local officials set the prices for a seasonal beach parking pass at $50 for residents — and $775 for visitors from most other towns. Residents of neighboring Weston pay $375.

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