Sharing Economy Embraces Camping

The San Benito County Supervisors on June 18 unanimously approved a low impact camping ordinance—a move that proponents say will allow rural landowners the chance to host small-scale camping on their properties. 

The ordinance, which will go into effect later this month, will expand access to outdoor recreation and camping in the backyard of Pinnacles National Park, says a press release from Hipcamp. 

“There’s only so far you can get on cattle,” said Tim Borland, owner and operator of Bar SZ Ranch, Hipcamp Host, and Vice President of Visit San Benito. “Taxes aren’t going down. We need every opportunity to diversify revenue, and agritourism and hospitality has been a game changer for us on our ranch. Hosting campers is a way to welcome visitors to our community and introduce them to San Benito County’s agricultural heritage, and it gives my family a chance to generate income that helps us keep and invest in our land.”

The low impact camping ordinance helps advance California’s conservation and outdoor equity goals, says the press release. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Outdoors for All strategy prioritizes collaboration between local governments, private companies and landowners to expand recreational access on private lands.

“San Benito County just took a major step toward helping California achieve its goal to provide equitable access to the outdoors while promoting conservation,” said the Director of the California Outdoor Recreation Partnership (CORP), Lexie Gritlefeld. “San Benito County is following the lead of Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire, who is working to promote low-impact camping on private land. This ordinance is a model policy that other counties across California can and should consider implementing in their own regions.”

Rural recreation helps farmers and ranchers stay economically viable, according to Hipcamp. Of the 1.9 million U.S. farms estimated in the 2022 Census of Agriculture, 1.5% reported being engaged in agritourism and 6% had direct-to-consumer offerings. Data shows these activities are a significant source of income, accounting for combined receipts of more than $4.5 billion in 2022.

San Benito County partnered closely with local landowners, Visit San Benito and Hipcamp to create the new land use policy.

“This is a win-win for San Benito County and our broader community,” said San Benito County Supervisor Angela Curro. “Camping on private land makes sense here. There’s no one better than local landowners to introduce visitors to our community in a safe and responsible way. This policy will expand outdoor access in San Benito while allowing residents to benefit from the growing demand for camping around Pinnacles National Park.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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