Beach stickers are cheaper for Westporters than non-residents. (Photo/Mark Marcus)

CT - Legislative Alert: New Bill Would Impact Beach Fees

The Connecticut House Planning & Development Committee will discuss House Bill 6650: “An Act Concerning Public Access to Coastal Resources.” The bill would limit p[parking fees charged to non-resident beach visitors

In a nutshell, this proposal would limit the fees a municipality can charge for town-owned beach parking to not more than twice the fees charged to residents. Click here for the full text of the bill.

Last summer in Westport, residents were charged $50 for a seasonal beach pass; non-residents paid $775 (or $375, for Westonites). The Parks & Recreation Commission met last night, to discuss lowering the out-of-town, non-Weston fee to $545.

If the state legislature bill is adopted, the fee for non-residents would be capped at $100 for the season — or not more than two times whatever residents pay, if Westport changes that fee.

If the bill is adopted by the legislature, there are obvious implications regarding both revenue and parking access for residents.

At the same time, our beaches will be more accessible to people who can’t afford to park there now.

As a state, how do we strike the right balance between ensuring access for residents whose tax dollars pay for significant investment to maintain and improve our coastal resources, while ensuring that people who lack the resources for a $775 annual pass or costly day pass can still go to the beach with their families?

While in Westport, the train station provides free parking that’s walkable to Compo on the weekend, many other towns in the state lack this infrastructure.

Please consider sharing your thoughts with the legislature. But do so quickly. You must register to testify by 3 p.m. today (Thursday, February 16) in order to provide verbal testimony either via zoom or in-person. Submitting written testimony as soon as possible is also recommended.

Click here for a guide to signing up to testify. Click here for the “Bulletin” referred to in the link above; then scroll down to view the Planning & Development Committee meeting on Friday, February 17 in order to register.

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