Opal Cliffs Park opens its gates to the public

Opal Cliffs Park opens it's gates to the public

CAPITOLA, Calif. - While the temps continue to heat up, some are cooling off at Opal Cliffs Park, locally referred to as Privates Beach, especially now that it's easier to get in.

"I heard that Privates Beach was open to the public so I wanted to seize the day,” Kristina Lanpheir of Scotts Valley.

Normally you have to have a key card to enter into the beach, but now until Labor Day, all you have to do is open the gate to get in.

Attorney Mark Massara represents Opal Cliffs Recreation District, a special district which manages the park. He said after many discussions with the California Coastal Commission they decided to waive the $100 annual fee for the summer.

"We're hoping that that will allow an agreement to maintain the annual key card pass in the future so the park will be able to be sustainable financially," said Massara. 

The California Coastal Commission told KION they have an enforcement case against Opal Cliffs Recreation District. They said the $100 dollar fee program is expired and has no authority, and that the beach is public property. But, they applaud the district for taking steps to open the park up to everyone free of charge.

"It should be free, it's the beach," said Lanpheir.

Richard Rodriguez is a key card holder and does not necessarily agree that everyone should be allowed in.

"I think I was for it being a key only, just because I feel like a lot of people will take advantage of it,” said Rodriguez. “I've seen more graffiti since they've had more access down here."

Some cardholders have also been accused of having an elitist attitude. Massara said the $100 annual pass has nothing to do with keeping certain people out, it’s all about keeping the area safe and ensuring money to keep the park open.

"This care, repair and maintenance of this stairway for example, is very costly and the district is responsible for doing that," said Massara.

Masara said the district has applied with Santa Cruz County Planning Department to update and formalize the fee program, which should come to a hearing late summer, early fall. 

ORIGINAL STORY: Opal Cliffs Park, locally referred to as Privates Beach is open this summer without a key card.

Normally you have to purchase an annual pass for $100, but the Opal Cliffs Recreation District who manages and operates the park has decided to waive the rule according to their attorney Mark Massara.

Massara tells KION hopefully this will allow an agreement to maintain the annual key card pass in the future.

KION's Maya Holmes will have the full story at 6 p.m. 

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