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Officials want Silver Strand State Beach more accessible to low-income San Diegans

New overnight camping options are being considered at Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego’s South Bay. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says it's part of a statewide effort to make camping more accessible to people with low incomes.

With help from an online survey, California State Parks officials are exploring new camping options at Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego's South Bay.

They’re working with local organizations such as City Heights CDC to spread the message.

“There’s no way for folks to stay there overnight to camp there unless you have access to an RV, so we see that as an equity issue. Not a lot of folk can afford RV's — to own them or to rent them,” City Heights CDC’s Randy Torres-Van Vleck said.

The survey is part of a study called "Lower Cost Coastal Overnight Accommodations." State officials are aiming to make it easier for low- and moderate-income households, youth-serving organizations and others with limited opportunities to camp at the state beach just south of Coronado.

“Whether it’s financial barriers, transportation, economical barriers or just geographically where they're located, they may live here and have never experienced the beach before," Urban Surf 4 Kids executive director Roxanne Avant said. "Just because they don't have the means to be able to safely experience or even get to the beach."

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Matthew Bowler
A sign at Silver Strand State Beach shows prices for overnight RV stays, July 21, 2022.

Avant's San Diego-based organization works with youth in foster and at-risk communities. She said the survey asked about nontraditional approaches to camping.

“It does address an area that's focusing on the financial costs. It asks the survey taker: ‘Do you need gear? Do you need tents and sleeping bags?’” Avant said.

Currently, camping is available year-round in RVs or in trailers, and tent camping is available at two group campsites from June through August. The new plan could include cottages, trailers, and hike and bike camping.

“We see it as a multipronged strategy,” Torres-Van Vleck said. “We want to create those local experiences where communities like City Heights can have a park to go to, canyons to go to. But we also want to open up those regional assets like Silver Strand and Pacific Beach and other places via transit, walking, biking.”

The 20-minute survey has to be completed by the end of day on July 27. The new accommodations would be developed over the next several years.