Sep 22, 2019
by Vesta Copestakes
5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins called a meeting to gather neighbors negatively impacted by visitors to Russian River parks each summer. She invited Regional Parks director Bert Whitaker and his staff, Public Works director Johannes Hoevertsz, and our local CHP officers who patrol the Russian River corridor in weekends when the impact is greatest. Residents gathered at the Hollydale Club to listen to what is being done, and add their own ideas about what can and should be done to mitigate impacts.
Last summer's traffic increased dramatically and overwhelmed parking lots at Russian River parks and beaches. People came from all over the Bay Area in cars and on tour busses with floaters and coolers filled with food and alcohol. They parked along main roads and deep into neighborhoods that line the river, blocking access to driveways, clogging roads so that passage was difficult, and leaving trash and human waste behind.
Regional Parks increased their parking lots as much as they could but still more people came,far beyond the capacity of these parks. Because behavior was negatively impacted by alcohol, Regional Parks established an alcohol ban at Steelhead and Sunset beaches, the largest parks with the most facilities. Park rangers confiscated alcohol this summer and at least that seemed to improve behavior issues. But overflow parking, trash, human waste, crowding and traffic jams continue to be issues for neighbors.
Tour buses were encouraged to drop passengers within park boundaries and both Sunset and Steelhead beaches provided parking for tow tour busses each, charged the bus companies access fees and were able to instruct visitors on rules of behavior and river use. But two buses per park is nowhere near the number of buses that come every weekend to dro their customers along the road outside beaches.
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