Several ways to support Torrey Pines park


By Gordon Clanton

Torrey Pines State Beach and Natural Reserve, a green and orange wonderland of sandstone bluffs against the sea, is a regional treasure now threatened by the state budget emergency.

One way locals can support the park is by purchasing an annual pass. The pass allows 12 months of auto access to the upper parts of the park and the trailheads.

The same pass allows you to park free in the beach lot, a great benefit when you want to park by the ocean but all the places on the strand are taken.

The same pass allows you free day use and parking at most of the 279 state parks and beaches. Hearst Castle is excluded. San Diego County has 14 state beaches and parks, including Cardiff State Beach, Border Field State Park and San Pasqual Battlefield.

Best of all, the annual pass is a great way to support our local park in this time of reduced financial support from the state.

Until recently, the cost of the annual pass was $125. Beginning Aug. 17, the cost will be $175. The charge for day-use parking will rise from $8 to $10 per visit.

This unfortunate rate increase is part of the blowback from the state budget mess. Along with our schools, colleges and social services, the state parks system is at risk. Politicians pledge, “no new taxes,” but user fees go up. For the first time ever in California, some state parks almost certainly will be closed. State park attendance fell by 9 million over three years following fee increases in 2004.

The pass is still a good deal. Having a pass will get you out into the park more often. You will bring your kids, friends and house guests.

Of course, you also can support the park directly with a contribution to the Torrey Pines Association or the Torrey Pines Docent Society. The docents are always looking for new recruits. Beach and bluff-top venues are available for weddings, memorial services and the like.

Visit the Web site:

Visit Torrey Pines Park soon.

Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University and writes about politics and environmental issues in Del Mar and the North Coast. Contact him at