Oceano Dunes air pollution study released

February 22, 2010

The long-awaited study by the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) on the Oceano Dunes has finally been issued and the first public workshop is scheduled for next week.

The report, released Monday, suggests that the high levels of dust being blown across the Nipomo Mesa stems from a lack of vegetation cover and the disturbance of the sand dunes by the off-highway vehicles.

The year-long APCD study reached the following conclusions:

Particulate matter on the Mesa does not originate from an offshore source.

Neither agriculture fields nor the Conoco-Phillips refinery is a significant source of pollutants.

The bulk of the particulate matter is fine sand blown onto the Mesa by strong winds.

The primary source of these sand particles is the open sand areas of the dunes.

Vegetative areas do not emit wind-blown particles.

Open sand dunes where off-highway vehicles are ridden emit significantly greater amounts of particulates than the undisturbed sand areas.

The APCD will host a public workshop about the new study on March 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the South County Regional Center, 800 W. Branch St, in Arroyo Grande.


The APCD is on of the biggest waste of tax dollars around. It took them a year to figure this out? What a bunch of morons. These folks are the perfect example of what’s wrong with CA as far as budget shortfalls. If I were gov., they would be the first to go. Obviously, with more dune buggys there is more pm being put into the atmosphere. Limit the number of users each weekend period. Simple. Done


Cindy, CEQA has nothing to do with this. CEQA only comes into play when there’s a project being proposed. I don’t recall any accompanying project at the Dunes that requires a CEQA review, so why would there be one in the first place. APCD took this upon themselves to study, and look at the conclusion – that riding in the dunes kills plants and kicks up dust, Well, duh!

I didn’t see any study on whether the Nipomo Mesa residents are any less healthy than anywhere else.

CEQA guides review of a project to ensure that environmental protections are in place or that mitigation for impacts is required. By itself CEQA doesn’t kill projects, though it can make them too expensive to undertake. Under CEQA there are no impacts that cannot be mitigated for.

This study makes no recommendations that I can see, doesn’t identify mitigations either, as a CEQA document would be required to do. Didn’t follow the procedures for CEQA reviews either. It just tries to identify the source of dust in the air.

PM-10 for the most part gets filtered by the hairs in your nose and sinuses. It’s the PM-2.5 that is too small to be filtered and gets into the lungs. AND PM-10 is an all-encompassing term and can be anything from wood smoke to car exhaust to tree pollen to dust. And isn’t necessarily toxic. And unless the law has been changed, California has no standards for PM-2.5, and just lumps it in with the PM-10 limits, which used to be 50 parts per million.

That said, it doesn’t mean there won’t be lawsuits filed. Indeed, I’d bet a Wall Street bonus that lawsuits are already being prepared. And it’s taxpayers that will pay, not the dunes rats.


Paperboy – I’m simply pointing how serious high levels of PM are considered to be hazardous (not necessarily toxic). The fact that such lengths are taken during construction to control PM10 is an indication of the extent that the state will mandate control over these releases into the immediate environment. It doesn’t really matter what the catalyst for the EPA report was. The report is comprehensive and appears to be scientifically sound. Yes everything under CEQA can be mitigated, like moving your building footings, making them smaller, backing off of a creek, and even the all encompassing tree easements (dedicated open space). I don’t know how much of this dust is at the PM2.5 level but I don’t think it will help a great deal to make a lessor finding based on PM 2.5 when acceptable levels of PM10 have already been identified. Just saying….

Booty JuJu

Dear Valley Peckerwood Mongs,

Please continue to enjoy your holiday weekends off-roading at the dunes and spending your hard earned at the beach. They love our hideously lifted trucks, intelligence, and free wheeling spending habits. Do not be dissuaded by wacko enviro Nazis or the likelihood of our own death, dismemberment or permanent paralysis. Just bring your money and your sisters, pull your upper lips over the top of your shorn heads and get your party on. If need be, the Pismo Chamber of Commerce will gladly provide a couple of water trucks or water tanker flyovers for dust control. Free will brothers, free will, and a couple of Nipo Mesa shut-ins with a bad cough is a small price to pay for freedom.

Yes the dunes offers up a Corn Pone Cornucopia of fun and frivolity at a time in history that is about to thrust you back into the okra patch, with the hookworms and the chiggers, as the economy whirls down the drain, and the car dealerships close up, and the idle production homebuilders succumb to methadrine addiction, and the price of Reba McEntire tickets exceeds your dwindling resources, and you are none too happy about any of that.

But you can rest assured in the safety of your inalienable right to Jesus tub-thumping, over-eating, Friday night football, and getting’ hammied while tearin’ up the dunes. And when Jeezus comes to take you home, that place will be just like Opryland USA was in its heyday, with Dolly Parton in every suite and all the pulled pork sandwiches under heaven’s dome.


Banjoe Bako


Booty are you from Fresno or Bakersfield ? Because alot of the people that are from around here enjoy having pismo to drive on its the people who move in and say “Not in my backyard”


After reading what the dune buddy and HOV advocates are saying here and in the TT I don’t think they are getting it. PM is considered a serious health hazard by the State and the Feds. The county is always monitoring for it, as are the cities. PM10 at 9X the acceptable level is considered a VERY BIG deal. Many of you don’t know that PM is required to be mitigated under CEQA (CA Environmental Quality Act), when any construction takes place. Water trucks must sprinkle all areas where and while the soil is being disturbed. A special agent (project employee) must be designated as an overseer and additionally use a hose when necessary to control the dust (PM). All disturbed areas must be covered with jute netting (or the like) and areas that are finished must be hydo-seeded (or seeded and netted) immediately. These are state required “conditions of approval” for a project to proceed. The HOV advocates seem to think that they can blow off this study. The local adversaries now have the states back against the wall and can sue the state and win for failure to mitigate the PM levels. Grass and other plant life does stop the wind from blowing all that beach sand. I don’t own or live by the dunes and am the last person to stop anyone’s fun however if any of you advocates plan to address this PM issue intelligently, I suggest that you take this issue seriously and come up with some viable means to mitigate this rather than telling people to move if they don’t like it. That attitude won’t save your sporting venue.


Cindy again when doing a construction project they make you put back what was there and sometimes more however it isn’t done for dust reasons most of the time it is done for erosion problems and you are right about having to keep dust down while working however it doesn’t seem to effect the ag areas they are exempt. So not everybody does it and its not going to end our world if an area on pismo is open to fun.


Something is wrong here. Where are the mothers for peace. I would certainly think that the wind at the dunes is caused by the Diablo Nuclear Plant. The plant has to cause some climatic change that creates the wind that causes the sand to blow.

There ought to be a study on how the dunes are created by the stealth winds that do not blow.


I find it hard to believe that beach grass prevents the wind from blowing sand away.

I think the APCD should just outlaw the wind from blowing, it would be cheaper than closing the OHV park.


I guess the flat earthers will all come out to denounce ‘science’. These studies are done to assess our impact on the planet and what we can do about it. Personal greed (for fun, profit-whatever) always brings out the whackos who love to throw insults instead of rendering intelligent analysis of a situation.

I think the dunes should be protected from severe damage but I also think recreation is a necessary component of life. But because of population pressures (too many people eating up the planet’s resources) we have to restrict more and more what we do and how we do it. It’s too bad but there we are.

Just like Bill Deneen I used to ride on the dunes. My crowd fired guns (at cans etc), landed small planes there, rode dirt bikes and generally raised hell and had a ball doing it-with no injuries or overt cost to society. We used to think the dunes were useless piles of sand, but they are not. Times were different. Then things changed, the crowds got crazier and larger. We have all seen increased use and many deaths, injuries and now much more air pollution.

In light of all this we need to reasonably look at the report, criticize it and come up with something that can hopefully appease all sides of this issue. I hope some toned down motorized use of a part of the coastal area will result in a way that will preserve the environment and still allow for recreation. But just like a traffic light on a busy street to control vehicle flow more restrictions of dune use is inevitable. Throwing rocks at the report or ‘environmentalists’ will just result in acrimony and further divide our community.


Excellent post hotdog – I long for those day’s when there were less people and less restrictions. There was such a sense of freedom. I suppose something could be worked out where there are days (high wind ) where vehicles aren’t allowed on the dunes just like we do with burn days. My questions is whether the dunes would produce the usual grasses that we see growing on undisturbed beach terrain if the vehicles were prohibited from the area in the question?


Cindy all you have to do is go down any road near the beach that has grass and ice plant growing and you will see that the sand still blows the roads get cleaned and one to three days they will be full of sand i have seen it a hundred times so if eveyone thinks that growing some plants will stop the blowing sand they are wrong.


I think the thing is that the native species of plants will recover and reduce the wind blown sand if vehicular traffic is held down to some acceptable level, whatever that is. In the old days with 50 cars/weekend it wasn’t a big deal, now with 10,000 it is.

In years long past there were no restrictions; only the tow trucks to drag the hapless out of the river, surf or soft sand. But with the increased popularity and the crowds, we are faced with more rules. I don’t like that any more than the many weekend warriors we attract do but it is a fact of life.

i would like to see some desert and dune areas of the state set aside for total destruction by the off roaders, sacrificial recreation areas that are dedicated to those folks. Not enough to damage the ecosystem but enough for the many thousands who enjoy raging around-I think there is a need for that sort of thing.

Since some activities on our Oceano dunes is incompatible with the folks living nearby I wonder if another access could be created further south (of the houses) as a starting point for some compromise here.


Shocker the air pollution control district sides with the environmentalist. That is like having the fox check out why the chickens are disappearing. There is a reason they are called “Sand Dunes” I have been here 48 years and the dunes will always blow sand just like they always have. Lets make sure nobody has any fun and we can save the whole coastline for the 15 people that want to walk on it. Oh bye the way I used to ride at Pismo and I never saw anybody walking back there. Its just another way for the wackos to stop others from having fun. How much did we spend for that study?

fat chance

More waste of money!


well if the environazis would stop closing our places to ride our dirtbikes then maybe we all wouldn’t have to ride in one place causing damage in one place instead of spreading out the tracks over larger areas to ride