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Tour buses drop residents in neighborhoods in front of homes.
Tour buses drop residents in neighborhoods in front of homes.

Mitigating Recreational Beach Impacts
in Russian River Neighborhoods

Feb 8, 2020

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By Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council

5th DistrictIn September, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins with Director of Regional Parks Bert Whitaker and his team, Director of Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Johannes Hoervertsz and his team, CHP representatives and your local MAC representatives came together to hear concerns and possible solutions for the adverse impacts of recreational river use on the neighborhoods around Mothers, Steelhead, and Hacienda Beaches. Below is a synopsis of action items developed out of that Fall meeting. 

It seems like we have been in non-stop "disaster mode" with power shutoffs, fires, Joe Rodota Trail issues and more – but the teams above have been working away in the background on solutions to protect our Beach neighborhoods, now and for the long term. 

Top Goals: 

1 - Get buses out of the neighborhoods

2 - Reduce influx of beach parking in the neighborhoods

3 - Provide solutions for trash, floats, and human waste

4 - Longer-term solutions for River overuse

One of the top goals is to find longer-term solutions for River overuse

Actions Underway: 

TPW (Roads) 

1 - Installing new No Parking Signs on both sides of River Road between Argonne Way and Mirabel Road, on both sides of Trenton Road between River Road and Marianna Drive, and Marianna Drive from Trenton Road to 8801 Marianna Drive. We are reaching out to those residents whose properties may be affected by the new No Parking Zones to get their approval. We need to get an ordinance passed by the Supervisors in order to designate these spaces as No Parking Zones and are working on this.

TPW has put up some No Parking signs in the area and many were pulled down. These have since been replaced. Should you find signs missing or down, please report that here so it can be promptly addressed: sonomacounty.ca.gov/Services/SoCo-Report-It/Submit-a-Service-Request/

2 - Adding size limitation signs around the bridges on River Drive by Mom's Beach and the Hacienda Bridge halting use of those roads by oversized vehicles/buses. 

3 - Marking No Parking curbs and Center lines to make parking rules more clear.

CHP (enforcement) 

Another goal is to reduce influx of beach parking in the neighborhoods. Image :Johnsons Beach Yelp business page

Will be ticketing more aggressively, especially at the beginning and middle of the season in order to discourage bad parking behavior.

Regional Parks:

1 - Regional Parks is working to develop a shuttle option that will help keep charter buses from offloading visitors in neighborhoods and while providing new services such as inflation/deflation stations, enhanced signage and public information regarding rules and stewardship of the river and waste management.

  This month, Parks will be soliciting for a private contractor to provide shuttle services, tube rentals, and parking infrastructure. 

  Parks has partnered with the Clean River Alliance to increase the frequency of trash removal this summer in neighborhoods adjacent to park sites along the river. 

  Working to develop and install equipment to inflate/deflate inner tubes and signage talking about single-use plastics, pack it in / pack it out, and other ways to reduce footprint while recreating on the river. 

2 - This is in addition to other strategies we have implemented over the past few years: 

  ~ Alcohol restrictions during summer months at Steelhead, Moms and Sunset Beach 

  ~ Additional portable restrooms at Steelhead and Sunset during summer months

  ~ Park staff and volunteers helping with litter removal in adjacent neighborhoods after high visitation weekends. 

  ~ Park staff providing individuals arriving on charter buses with river safety and stewardship information before they unload the bus (when the bus has a permit and has parked in the park)

  ~ Water Safety Patrols / Lifejacket loaner program

Transportation and Media:  Notify them of the changes and make it clear that buses will not be welcome in neighborhoods, public beach options, and Good Stewardship Practices for use of the river. Working with Sonoma County Tourism and their Sustainable Tourism initiative to bring in the right kind of visitors. Less the "Spring Break Party" atmosphere and more back to a family "stewards of the river" model. Better signage directing people from Roads and from the River on where to find porta-potties. 

Residential Permit Program:  A residential permit program is not available at this point in Sonoma County. Yet it is a frequent request from residents in beach neighborhoods or residents near vacation rentals. Supervisor staff is researching what it would take to establish such a program in Sonoma County. 

These steps will go a long way towards reducing the burdens of recreational users on neighborhoods and are just the most immediate steps underway. Longer-term we are looking at those suggestions that will take time to implement such as changing ordinances for neighborhood parking or purchasing land for parking and service provision. We will keep in touch with the neighborhoods as well as all departments involved to monitor the results of these plans and to stay on top of new issues as they arise. 

Please share these notes with your neighbors not on our list ask for updates. To GET ON THE LIST - Contact:

Elise VanDyne, Field Representative for Supervisor Hopkins

Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins | County of Sonoma  

707-565-2241  |  Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org 

Neighbors impacted by recreational visitors to our Russian River beaches are forming groups to address what does and does not work. Please attend the next Lower River MAC meeting on February 20th when this item is on the meeting agenda.

INFO: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Lower-Russian-River-Municipal-Advisory-Council/ 

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