California Resort Dealt Another Blow
Soon the quirky enclave of private trailers huddled at Lawson’s Landing near Tomales Bay, Calif., may pack up its porches and move on.
The Marin County Planning Commission laid out the details of what it will take for the popular RV campground up the coast from San Francisco to finalize a master plan during a public hearing on Aug. 11, according to the Point Reyes Light, Inverness, Calif.
“The commission is moving toward eliminating our means of income, while adding in a lot of things that cost more money,” said Willy Vogler, one of the owners of the property. “They said that they aren’t concerned about the economics – but I am.”
The commissioners said that they have no choice but to follow the letter of the law. This means prohibiting any camping activity within 100 feet of the property’s abundant wetlands; eliminating all residential trailers except for those housing employees; and requiring a team of scientists to manage the natural resources in perpetuity.
Ongoing controversy surrounds the campground, which has operated without permits for four decades. Efforts to bring the popular recreational spot into compliance with current regulations have been slowed to a snail’s pace by a decades-long series of stalls, snags and environmental concerns.
The 900-acre property supports wetlands, endangered plants and animals and a rare sand dune habitat – as well as one of the largest RV campgrounds on the California coast that has been prized by generations of vacationers for its low-cost waterfront access.
Environmental advocates who have been actively pushing for natural resource protection and traffic regulation are now cautiously hopeful. “They were getting the message that they will actually have to apply county laws to the project,” said Catherine Caufield of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “I was happy with the instructions that were given, but that doesn’t tell you what will be in the plan.”
The useable camping area will be radically curtailed if wetland protection buffers are enforced. Campsites are reduced from 1,000 to 600 in the currently proposed plan, which removes campers from wetlands. Eliminating buffers as well could decrease that number by as much as two thirds.
“They want what they want, and they want what they’ve always had,” said Randy Greenberg, commission chair. “Our policies have been out there for years, and yet the applicants only looked to their traditional camping areas. It was not at all a creative plan.”
Vogler disagreed, saying the choice of where to put campgrounds was limited by the scope of the environmental review and guided by the Dillon Beach community plan.
In an additional blow to the campground and the people who want it to remain as it is, the privately leased residential trailers that provide roughly one third of the campground’s income are likely to be outlawed, as current zoning prohibits residential uses.