Recent Comments:



  • "What the APCD ultimately agreed to was essentially what State Parks and Mayor ("mitigate don't litigate") Peterson suggested in the first place - work cooperatively to address the problem and don't require a permit. The voting majority on the APCD board decided otherwise and now we're stuck in this expensive mess. Not exactly government at its finest."

    Mike Byrd commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-08-01 07:24:34
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  • "Like many political type people you avoided the real issue...... "Do not submit comments containing large blocks of text, lists" it is as a courtesy to others, but as often happens one thinks as long as I get to do what I want, to heck with others, but I will make a reply that does not address the real issue to avoid it."

    kayaknut commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-08-01 07:08:15
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  • "Here we go again. Another group that thinks it is special. The rules really don’t apply to us. We will use a fracture line to sink a well, that won’t draw at all from the depleting water table. What are they smoking, or what do they think we are smoking. Also, Atascadero means “muddy water”. The lake was a mud hole over a 100 years ago and natural evolution is that it should return, but you are special and it is really for the communities best interest to protect this elitist and artificial feature."

    wineguyjc commented in:
    Atascadero residents trying to refill lake on 2014-08-01 06:41:28
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  • "Yes, the down winders get dust and always will, ORV's or not. If this is a serious health hazard, as claimed by the APCD, there should be a required disclosure on every real-estate transaction within that defined area. Disclosures are required for every known negative impact."

    Jorge Estrada commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-08-01 06:27:22
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  • "Press releases can be submitted to the email's to the right, an excerpt and link is customary and acceptable "Do not submit comments containing large blocks of text, lists, the text of long court filings, copyrighted song lyrics, and such from any source, an excerpt and link is customary and acceptable.""

    Moderator commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-07-31 21:42:05
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  • "*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE VENTURA — Yesterday, the Second Appellate District Court in Ventura rejected the consent decree proposed by SLO County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and State Parks intended to resolve litigation of APCD's Rule 1001—the "Dust Rule"—filed by Friends of Oceano Dunes January 4, 2012. The Court denied a joint motion made by APCD and State Parks to dismiss the litigation and repudiated the proposed consent decree, ruling as follows: "We deny the joint motion to dismiss and request for approval of the consent decree filed by respondent San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution District and real party-in-interest/appellant California Department of Parks and Recreation. We vacate our previous order staying further proceedings in this appeal. California Department of Parks and Recreation's opening brief is due 30 days from the date of this order." [Link to court docket: http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/dockets.cfm?dist=2&doc_id=2046152&doc_no=B248814] The Court also lifted a stay imposed to delay proceedings while APCD and State Parks negotiated together with the California Air Resources Board (CARB). On March 26, 2014, APCD distributed a press release announcing its "Board took action to sign a Consent Decree with California State Parks to jointly petition the Court of Appeal to approve the Consent Decree and dismiss all appeals in the pending litigation related to implementation of Rule 1001 (APCD’s Oceano Dust Rule)." The joint motion and consent decree was the product of months of closed-door negotiations between APCD, State Parks and CARB which excluded plaintiff Friends of Oceano Dunes. Those negotiations took place after APCD and State Parks moved for a stay of the proceedings in a motion filed September 20, 2013. (See ATTACHMENT, "Joint Motion for Stay of Appeal".) Denial of the consent decree and vacating the stay now opens the door for Friends of Oceano Dunes to resume litigation against APCD's Rule 1001, the "Dust Rule." [Press Release: http://slocleanair.org/images/cms/upload/files/Press_Release_26Mar_Consent_Decree_Rule_1001%281%29.pdf] [SLO Tribune: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/03/26/2991498/slo-county-air-board-state-parks.html] THE FAILED CONSENT DECREE The rejected consent decree contained three major aspects (below). One of the main points of opposition Friends of Oceano Dunes took against the consent decree is that it illegally altered Rule 1001 without the required legislative action of the APCD Board. Cities, counties and the state pass laws via their legislative bodies (councils, supervisors, and state congress). Similarly, the APCD has a Board. The consent decree essentially changed law without any legislative vote, public comment, notice or hearings. The consent decree was decided in closed-door meetings without any public input at all! 1. PERMIT REQUIREMENT ERASED The proposed consent decree would have erased the permit requirement of Rule 1001 which was hotly debated when Rule 1001 was adopted by the APCD Board on November 16, 2011. The proposed consent degree states, "State Parks will not be required pursuant to this Consent Decree to obtain a 'Permit to Operate.'" At the November 2011 board meeting, nearly three years ago now, State Parks Division Chief Phil Jenkins testified that the operating permit requirement would actually hamper State Parks from putting dust mitigations in place quickly, stating, "...our concern about an operating permit, is an operating permit could potentially put constraints on us. We don't feel that's appropriate." [ATTACHMENT: Board Transcript, at p. 153, lines 21-24.] A State Parks letter, dated November 2, 2011 stated, "The APCD may not impose a requirement to obtain an operating permit for an indirect emission source." The non-profit organization, Friends of Oceano Dunes, also opposed the permit requirement. A November 2, 2011 letter from Friends' attorney proclaimed, "SLO APCD is exceeding its authority by attempting to impose regulatory controls on a permittee for natural events which are not 'emissions'." 2. BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (BMPs) EMBRACED The proposed consent decree also would have established "...an iterative process of mitigation actions, evaluation, and revision to achieve the immediate goal of meeting the PM standard..." This is a precise description of "Best Management Practices" (BMPs), a phrase coined by the forestry industry meaning implementation of methods that consistently show superior results by evaluating current results to evolve and adopt improved techniques as they are discovered. State Parks, Friends of Oceano Dunes, and APCD Board members Ed Waage, Roberta Fonzi, and Frank Mecham all asked for BMPs under cooperative agreement at the 2011 board meeting. Instead, the APCD refused the offer of cooperation and opted for the heavy-handed "Dust Rule" which rejects BMPs and imposed the contested permit to operate requirement. APCD has continually postured and castigated State Parks as uncooperative when, in fact, State Parks has always cooperated with APCD and made numerous documented concessions. Parks Chief Jenkins testified on September 28, 2011 in front of the APCD Board, "We really feel quite strongly that the rule should be looking instead at best actions to take and since there are no clear Best Management Practices for the dunes at this point, we're going to have to come to those together. And that's where -- and we concur with what Larry [Allen] was just saying, that it needs to be an iterative process." [Transcript, Sept 28, 2011. at p. 72, lines 19-24.] Director Frank Mecham opined, "I'm very uncomfortable with a Fugitive Dust Rule... So I'm really concerned about where this would go from a Fugitive Dust Rule. At this point I'm looking more at the Best Management Practices." [Transcript, Sept. 28, 2011. at p. 135-6, lines 13-14, and 4-9.] Director Roberta Fonzi commented, "Best Management Practices are something that we have all dealt with as city officials or county officials, and we're very familiar with how they're put into place an know that they can be tweaked and made to work better than a hard statistical or numeric standard... I feel more comfortable with the concept of looking at putting the Best Management Practices into place." [Transcript, Sept. 28, 2011, at p. 134, lines 3-12.] Director Ed Waage stated, "I like the idea of the Best Management Practices..." [Transcript, Sept. 28, 2011, at p. 132, lines 20-21.] Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham, in a November 3, 2011 letter, wrote, "...cooperation is more likely if the draft rule is modified to require a Best Management Practices program instead of the punitive measures as currently written." Friends of Oceano Dunes wrote in a November 15, 2011 letter, "The district has failed to allow the implementation of alternative methods of emission reduction, emissions monitoring, or record keeping through State Parks' implementation of best management practices." 3. SPECIAL MASTER The proposed consent decree further contained a mechanism to resolve disputes without litigation. It called for appointment of a "special master" who would act as a mediator. APCD CHOSE LITIGATION OVER COOPERATION State Parks stood ready to implement Best Management Practices, including undertaking immediate dust mitigation actions in 2012. It was APCD who refused to cooperate and took a hard-line stance instead. APCD chose litigation along with the ensuing delays and expense. In spite of all the 2011 support favoring Best Management Practices and opposing a permit requirement, the APCD Board narrowly voted to approve Rule 1001 in a 7-4 vote, with Grover Beach Councilmember Karen Bright abstaining (despite having been directed by her Council and Mayor John Shoals to oppose Rule 1001 during a November 7, 2011 city council meeting). [See Grover Beach council minutes, Item 8.] Friends of Oceano Dunes had delivered clear notice that it was their intent to litigate if Rule 1001 was passed as proposed. San Luis Obispo resident, Kevin P. Rice, also conveyed intent to seek judicial review of the passage of Rule 1001, if passed. APCD passed the rule and Friends filed suit on January 4, 2012. Rice filed suit on January 17. APCD REVERSES AFTER 2-1/2 YEARS OF LITIGATION The consent decree proposed by APCD and approved by unanimous Board vote in March this year, reverses and goes back to exactly what State Parks, Friends of Oceano Dunes, and the minority Board members were asking for in November 2011. The permit to operate requirement was removed, and Best Management Practices embraced. After 2-1/2 years of litigation, the APCD Board has agreed to go with what was asked for in the first place! At what cost? GROVER BEACH MAYOR PETERSON OUSTED FOR BEING RIGHT Meanwhile Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson was placed on the APCD Board in 2013, replacing Councilmember Karen Bright who failed to vote on Rule 1001 as her council led by then Mayor John Shoals directed in 2011. Peterson adopted a "Mitigate, not litigate" position, essentially supporting the four existing APCD Board members who had voted against Rule 1001. Also in 2012, Supervisor Debbie Arnold replaced former Supervisor Jim Patterson. The addition of Peterson and Arnold to the APCD Board caused the de facto 2011 seven vote board majority to be reduced to six—an even split, which upset politicians and activists supporting Rule 1001. Because all county supervisors automatically sit on the APCD Board, Arnold's position is untouchable until the 2016 election. Thus, activists targeted Peterson and pressured Grover Beach City Council to remove her from the APCD Board. Peterson vocally opposed Rule 1001 along with several other board members. However, she was falsely cast as an outlier, standing alone. Peterson supported Best Management Practices, oversight and replacing the inflexible permit requirement with alternative measures that would be more in line with common practice and would protect the APCD from court action. At the same time, she raised the ire of fellow Councilmember Bill Nicolls when she was voted into his long-held seat on the South SLO County Sanitation District, replacing him. The Sanitation District was flailing financially. Peterson initiated a major turnaround and the Sanitation District budget is now well into the black for the first time in years—district spending was reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Despite this major change for the public good, Nicolls was irate and seeking retribution. Nicolls eventually moved that Grover Beach remove Peterson from the APCD board, and with the political manipulation of Supervisor Adam Hill, the Grover Beach council did just that. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/07/16/2585688/oceano-dunes-petition-spawns-dust.html http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/10387/peterson-gets-punted-from-the-apcd-board/ Debbie Peterson became the front page story of the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-grover-beach-dust-20140312,0,6168543,full.story The ironic outcome, however, is the APCD consent decree adopted the exact same positions Mayor Peterson had fought for: Elimination of the permit to operate requirement, and implementation of cooperative mitigation—"Mitigate, not litigate." Peterson was right, and the APCD board unanimously endorsed her positions in the proposed consent decree. WHAT NOW? MORE LITIGATION. The Court's rejection of the consent decree and vacating of the stay of proceedings now restarts Friends of Oceano Dunes' litigation against Rule 1001. The APCD and its board has to do better. To fulfill its role of protecting air quality, it must not continue its hard-line stance, inviting litigation, and squandering resources and money in court that should be directed cooperatively toward public health. APCD was pleaded with in 2011 to work cooperatively. A bare seven vote majority of the APCD Board—there are twelve members—adopted Rule 1001 over the opposition of the minority members, State Parks, Friends of Oceano Dunes, several local government councils, and hundreds of members of the public. It would be irresponsible to say that Friends has won at this point. Nevertheless, Friends appears to have won certain issues. It seems the permit to operate requirement has been conceded, and Best Management Practices destined to be employed. These wins are enough that Friends may eventually be considered the "prevailing party" when litigation finally ends some unknown date in the future. If that occurs, Friends could seek repayment for their legal costs under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. That could cost the APCD and the public major dollars that should have been conserved for cooperative solutions. The APCD chose litigation. They chose badly. It's been three years and counting... # # #"

    Kevin Rice commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-07-31 17:30:07
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  • "Not exactly accurate. State Parks isn't suing. They were named as a "Real Party-In-Interest", meaning they have the right to weigh-in on the lawsuit. Initially, State Parks took the side of Friends of Oceano Dunes (during the local superior court trial). Since the suit was appealed, State Parks negotiated the "Consent Decree" and won concessions from APCD---that has caused them to take the side of APCD during the appeal (since they got some of what they wanted---no permit requirement and Best Management Practices)."

    Kevin Rice commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-07-31 17:24:07
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  • "Our wonderful APCD needs to fine Mother Nature because she's the one blowing the sand (mostly) and dust (much lesser amount) into Nipomo. You can see this when you drive northbound on the 101 through Santa Maria on very windy days. In fact the particulate matter blowing into Nipomo isn't any greater on the weekends when there are much more ATVs and dune buggies playing in the dunes."

    MarkGB commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-07-31 17:11:33
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  • "It sounds as if the Cuesta trustees and administrators are still viewing things through Rosenwasser-colored glasses... Cuesta needs to exhibit financial frugality and reform before they can be trusted with any bond money. Even the $275M number shows how far detached from reality they are..."

    SamLouis commented in:
    Cuesta places $275 million bond on ballot on 2014-07-31 16:07:09
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  • "This is truly a WTF scenario. One governmental agency (APCD) suing another governmental agency (State Parks) with another governmental agency (Appelate Court) deciding the outcome. Guess what folks? You know who funds all of these entitiesand the legal wrangeling? Thats right folks ..... its us the taxpayers. This is a circus at best............... Step right up, folks And see Little Egypt do her Famous dance of the Pyramids She walks, she talks She crawls on her belly Like a reptile Just one thin dime One tenth of a dollar Step right up, folks"

    TacomaRose commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-07-31 14:33:35
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  • "Way to go Friends, Kevin, et al. Put this worthless APCD in their place. Good grief! Paying that chump Larry 200k+ to send out press releases on windy days saying theere might be dust in the air?! APCD, IWMB, and all the rest of those useless unelected organizations filled need to be disbanded now!"

    Perspicacious commented in:
    APCD ordered back into court over dust rule on 2014-07-31 14:20:02
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  • "Perspicacious, the proof of your bet is in the pudding. Look at our most recent June 3rd County election and the number of complacent residents who made a choice to NOT cast a ballot. The despicable voter turnout exemplifies the indifference of many SLO County registered voters who must not have a "clue" that they are the government. We hope in November people who understand the detriment of over-taxation via the approval of bond measures, will VOTE NO on anything/everything that will dip in and further deplete our personal finances."

    Mariposa commented in:
    Cuesta places $275 million bond on ballot on 2014-07-31 14:18:39
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