Sierra Club loses Oceano Dunes case on appeal

January 10, 2012


The local chapter of the Sierra Club lost its appeal on Monday to force off-road vehicles from a portion of the Oceano Dunes that the state rents from San Luis Obispo County.

In 2008, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit claiming vehicles should be banned from the state’s vehicular recreation area’s 584-acre La Grande Tract. The club argued that the County’s Coastal Plan Map lists it as a buffer zone which means vehicles are banned. Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall ruled that it was too late for the Sierra Club to mount a challenge.

Not only did the Second Appellate Court uphold Crandall’s decision that it is to late to fight the state’s 1982 Coastal Development Permit, the appellate court also determined that having the area dubbed a buffer zone does not mean that off-road vehicles should be prohibited.

“Despite two pleading attempts, Sierra Club has failed to allege that State Parks has a clear and present ministerial duty to ban off-highway-vehicle activities on the La Grande Tract,” the appellate court decision says. “Sierra Club is barred from collaterally attacking the 1982 Coastal Development Permit by suing for mandamus, declaratory, or equitable relief.”

The court also ordered the Sierra Club to pay cost and certified the appellate court’s unanimous agreement for publication.

SierraClub Vs CalParks


And on behalf of the Bulbous Nose Award Committee, I would like to thank my supporters who gave their cherished Thumbs Down! at the bottom of the “Symposium: Enhancing Court Efficiency Through Emerging Addiction Science” announcement listed on the Web site.

Words cannot express the emotion I feel upon learning that our very own Judge Crandall has taken time away from his loft endeavor here in SLO to become more acquainted with the “science of addiction” in Reno, Nevada! I can’t think of a more appropos milieu in which to commingle the science with the applied technology of Bartending, which is offered as a minor in many of Nevada’s regional institutions of learning.

The aura and aroma of scholarship exudes from Reno’s many off-campus work-study locations, providing unparallelled opportunities to apply what one has learned to the real world. Such a course of study will leave a lasting impression on the courts, no doubt, and those whose fortune it is to go before it.

In fact, the decision to expend California’ s judicial resources upon the Addiction Symposium in Reno, Nevada, gives us simple folk a mere inkling of the amount of time and energy that court admin. put in to select this penultimate site for learning, second only to the bus stop at Osos and Palm, or the psych ward at General Hospital!

Gaudyamus Egotur, judicial aspirants! Fly ever higher to your ignoble heights, safe in the knowledge that your constituents will remember you, in the coming election, or in court–whichever comes first!


This is going to blow up in the OHVer’s faces. Without the buffer zone, more people than ever will be irritated and irate about the commotion in the dunes.

Because much of the buffer zone is vegetated, if the buffer is opened to OHV use, the public will be treated to a well-documented view of how greatly OHVs destroy natural vegetation and wildlife habitat and promote increased dust to neighboring communities.

By the way, please don’t try to paint me as someone who is opposed to all OHV use in the Dunes. That’s not the case. But I am opposed to expanding the OHV area. Eliminating the buffer zone is no good for anyone on either side of the debate. This is what is called a “lose-lose” outcome.

Kevin Rice

You show how ignorant you are of the facts and circumstances. Because the Sierra Club gets slam dunked by two courts reflects on the OHV community how? Opening a 30 year old permit to appeal is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard Babek try. Who ever heard of appealing any permit 30 years after a building is erected?

Second, the “buffer zone” is an undefined term on an old map. You presume meaning where none is declared and none has EVER been in place or contested. “Buffer zone” is not defined anywhere in the county general plan. You merely wish and believe it to be a non-OHV zone, but nothing supports that. Might as well call it the “blue zone”. The Court has twice agreed that the CDP allows OHV use in the “buffer zone”. The reason the opinion encloses “buffer zone” in quotes is because the term has no legal meaning; it is merely colloquial.

Third, no area is opening to OHV use. You couldn’t possibly be more out of touch with respect to this ruling, with the exception of blaming park users for the Sierra Club’s bumbling. They lost purely on Babek’s own idiocy.

More astounding is the Club’s attempt to “step into the shoes” of the Coastal Commission! The Club attempts to overrule the Coastal Commission with an administrative writ of mandamus… again 30 years after the ship has sailed!

Finally, you make all sorts of claims about vegetation when you’ve proven you don’t know much about a thing here. Vegetation has only INCREASED since the 1930s. Most of it is invasive and destructive to habitat. Most of it was planted by man to reduce NATURAL BLOWING DUST. The lunatic crowd wants to blame man for nature, but 1,000 pounds of sand PER MINUTE blowing onshore cannot be competed with by man.


Not true, SloRider. Check your history. Natural NATIVE vegetation in the dunes has been decimated by OHV use. The evidence is clear in photos of the Moy Mell community in the dunes in the 1930s. The inhabitants of Moy Mell lived in dense, vegetated “coves” of NATIVE vegetation surrounding the area where, to this day, there is a park sign amidst the OHV area showing exactly where Moy Mell was. Anyone can go to that sign–assuming “vandals” have not damaged it once again–and look around and see t hat where there was once lush vegetation, high enough to tower overhead, today there is nothing but sand.

Secondly, you misinterpret my point made above. I content that having a buffer zone will help relations between the OHV users in the dunes and those others in the community who find OHV use in the dunes to be a problem for them.

We both know why the judge decided the way he did. Follow the money. Entire careers have been funded by the state parks in order to police and maintain the OHV area. Fine, but lets not deceive the public about the obvious, historic problems associated with OHV use.

Can the two sides find a middle ground? Oh, that’s right. The buffer zone WAS supposed to be a middle ground. The OHV lobby just crapped all over it.

Kevin Rice

(1) Provide the photos.

(2) FOUR judges are corrupt and paid off now too?

Don’t be inane.


Photos can be found among the County Historical Society archives. Another source are the photo pages in Norm Hammond’s outstanding local history book “The Dunites”.

Who is now claiming the judges are “corrupt and paid off”?

What’s your problem with providing a buffer zone? Not enough vegetation and wildlife habitat left to destroy in the already sanctioned area?

SloRider, you really have some nerve to try to pretend OHV use in the dunes is non-destructive to vegetation and wildlife. If we are to believe you, we would all believe that OHVs fart perfume, crap organic fertilizer, and spread magical fairy dust throughout our community.

SLORider, you are a dividing force in our community as you spread your outrageous propaganda.

Kevin Rice

Who is claiming the judges are paid off??

YOU WROTE: “We both know why the judge decided the way he did.”

Anyway, I can see you’re in the middle of a “rogue and vindictive” meltdown. When you’re ready to present specific, rational evidence–not claims–please send out a signal of some sort.


Tree-Huggers should go somewhere that has trees…. Two “thumbs-up” for off-road!

Russ J

Why do I have to have to listen to the mind numbing noise of off road idiots while I hike through Oso Flaco or the La Grande tract? What a beautiful natural resource this dune could be. (I hate harleys too)


Russ J

The OHV is A cash COW for the state and the local economy and most of all a hell of a lot of fun.

Get used to it . If you want to enjoy real peace and quiet drive up to Mission San Antonio.


And, on another note, the Bulbose Nose Award goes to:

National Judicial College News Judge Crandall

News from the National Judicial College is available in this announcement


Date: September 30, 2011

Contact: Christina Nellemann

Phone: (775) 327-8279 or

Presiding Judge Charles Crandall of San Luis Obispo, CA Completes Presiding Judges Symposium: Enhancing Court Efficiency Through Emerging Addiction Science

at The National Judicial College

RENO, NV – The National Judicial College (NJC) is pleased to announce that

Hon. Charles Crandall of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court in San Luis Obispo, CA. has completed Presiding Judges Symposium: Enhancing Court Efficiency Through Emerging Addiction Science September 26-27, 2011 in Reno, Nev. The two-day symposia, a part of the National Judicial Leadership Systems Initiative, educated judges on the science and treatment of addiction and how to implement improvements to the criminal justice system’s response to substance abuse through the application of evidence-based practices in judicial decision making.

Judge Crandall emphasizes that understanding the science of drug and alcohol addiction is vital to effective implementation of new sentencing legislation, AB109, which goes into effect October 1, 2011.

The National Judicial College was founded in 1963 and is the nation’s leading provider of judicial education. The NJC is housed in a state-of-the-art building on the historic 255-acre campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. For more than 46 years, the NJC has been offering courses to improve judicial productivity, challenge current perceptions of justice and inspire judges to achieve judicial excellence. With courses held onsite, across the nation and around the world, the NJC offers an average of 95 courses annually with more than 3,000 judges enrolling from all 50 states, U.S. territories and more than 150 countries. Since it opened, the NJC has awarded more than 85,000 professional judicial education certificates.

The NJC and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges assisted the University of Nevada, Reno, in developing one of the nation’s first Master’s and


Ph.D. in judicial studies programs. Both programs provide a formal academic setting in which trial judges can integrate technical and academic studies to attain an intellectual understanding of the American judiciary.

The NJC is also home to the National Tribal Judicial Center and an International Program. The College’s curricula include a Seminar Series, made up of courses that provide judges the opportunity to study diverse and interesting topics at historically and culturally rich locations across the United States. Web-based courses are also offered enabling participants to explore a variety of subject areas online.

The National Judicial College has an appointed 18-member Board of Trustees and became a Nevada not-for-profit (501)(c)(3) educational corporation on January 1, 1978. Please visit the NJC website at for NJC news, ways to donate, course information and more. Or, call (800) 25-JUDGE for more information.


I imagine this loss was a minor trifle for the Sierra Club, they’ll be back in another form. They have to because this is the main source of their (and their counsel’s) funding.

Bring an environmental suit against any agency for a violation of one of the subjective nebulous areas of CEQA. When they prevail, CEQA allows them to petition the court for attorney’s fees. Sweet!

It’s a beautiful thing and the community of environmental activist attorneys has built an entire cottage industry around it. They’re interested in green all right….the long green.

This case must have driven McNultey nuts to be a defendant. I wonder what he shared along the way with all of his activist buddies?


You are so wonderfully ignorant of the facts!


Really he/she isn’t. Attorney work on the plaintiff side is a pretty good gig if the client is paying regardless of the outcome. Wealthy donors feel good about the environmental contributions and lawyers get paying work as a result. It’s redistribution of wealth nonprofit style.


Really… so? All I know is what I see. And read.


Norco dude, I guarantee you there are plenty of people in the Sierra Club that support its positions for reasons that have NOTHING to do with earning themselves more money. in fact, I venture that the VAST MAJORITY of Sierra Club supporters feel that way. They also don’t mind if people get paid to advance the Sierra Club agenda through the courts.

One reason to join the Sierra Club is to have others paid to do the environmental advocacy work that most of us don’t wish to take on personally. So yes, people are paid to do some of the Sierra Club’s environmental work. This is America and that is the way things are done here. Don’t Sierra Club members have that right?


Doesn’t make sense to me. How will this remain a “buffer zone” if OHVs are allowed there?

Having a buffer zone made sense and was something agreed upon long ago. The ruling effectively will end the buffer zone for the lame reason that nobody caught the error until some statute of limitation ran out In other words, if you commit a crime and nobody notices for a while you get away with it, even if the crime continues.

How does THAT make sense?


WiseGuy, If a citizen routinely utilizes another citizens property for a period of 5 years, the law actually protects the trespassers right to “continue” passing through that property providing they have done so for at least 5 years and that their use of the property was blatant and “notorious”, with no complaints lodged by the true property owner during those 5 years.

I know of land owners who have allowed their neighbors to access their properties and then when they decided that it was time to put a stop to it, it was too late. The 5 year statue that pertains to ” routine and notorious use of another citizens legal property considers that there if an implied establishment of a legal easement granted by the landowner to the second party !

Buffer Zone or no buffer zone, the county has clearly established that they did not consider OHV’s to interfere with the established land use and they did not document exactly what constitutes a buffer zone. .


I think by “buffer zone”, it means that OHV’s are permissable…but it is OK for others to use them as target practice.


You’re speaking of prescriptive rights which may pass after 5 years of uncontested use.

But it only applies to private property and does not apply to public lands.


Please don’t move next to a airport and then bitch about the airplanes.


Another totally lame, cliche, thoughtless comment from Robert1. First of all, people were living in the Five Cities area long before there were even motorized vehicles. And although a few people drove vehicles in the dunes in the early part of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the late 1960s and into the 1970s that off-roading became a major industry and hoards of OHVers descended onto the dunes in vast numbers, unlike anything in the years before.

But getting back to your lame, thoughtless cliche regarding airports: Let me answer that this way: If you moved into a home and your next door neighbor, who had lived there a long time, continually let his sewage flow into your yard, how would you feel if someone told you, “Quit complaining, he was letting his sewage flow into that property long before you ever moved there.”

By the way, I’m not opposed to regulated OHV use in the dunes. But I am opposed to all the B.S. rhetoric and misleading propaganda that the OHV fanatics and anti-environmentalists continually spew on this forum and elsewhere.


Wiseguy, it is what it is. The land surrounding the dunes has long been known as either rental property for party goers or prime retail. Either way, the land is highly valuable and anyone who owned surrounding property prior to the OHV’s has an easy way out. They can rent it at big $$ for to the party crowd, convert it to retail space or sell it and move down the coast. There is plenty of coast and less than 1% of it has been designated for the OHV’s. I say let the OHV’s have a space to run on.


Cindy, the DO have a “space to run on,” Who is stopping them? But now they want more. Fine. But let’s not let the lies stand as to whether the OHV use has any effect on others.

I say that having this buffer zone was a good concept and that the judges ruling perpetuates, in fact exacerbates a problem.

If the OHV community would wise up and nut up and go toward using quiet, less polluting electric vehicles, there was be less of a problem. But that’s another story having to do with addiction to oil and the industries that push us to that.


“By the way, I’m not opposed to regulated OHV use in the dunes. But I am opposed to all the B.S. rhetoric and misleading propaganda that the OHV fanatics and anti-environmentalists continually spew on this forum and elsewhere.”

I think you have the spewing down pat.

I always made a educated decision when I bought a home,never near a power plant, dump, air port, race way etc.. I have owned upwards of 10 homes and lived in each at one time or another. It ain’t like the dunes weren’t there first, people and oil companies have been on them for a 100 years.


Robert1, you’ve pretty much convinced us you are a troll carpetbagger in regards to this issue. Why stick you nose in business you really have no stake in? Makes no sense, once again.

Kevin Rice

Please define “troll carpetbagger” and prove Robert1 has no stake.


Excellent, the enviro-thugs finally lose a round.


Environmentalists are often “losing a round”. That’s why cancer and asthma rates are soaring and precious aspects of nature are continually being destroyed.


“Cancer rates and asthma are soaring”, How about the population on the planet just reached 7 billion, attribute the increase to the increased population as well.


What’s your point, other than “the world is going to hell, so might as well speed things along and get there faster”?


Enviro-thugs? Bah! Thanks, tho!


How unsurprising that wing-nuts have no originality…just repeating what they see and hear on townhall, redstate, and the fat comedian’s show……. like a chorus of trained baboons !

Fortunately, the defenders of a livable society, i.e. ‘civilization’ do not have to rely on cute-sy made up labels and jargon like the carny barkers on the right .

We use plain language and call polluters what they are.


Finally some sense has prevailed.

maybe not

The “sents” that prevails is just conservative outgassing.


The gas you hear is coming out of your mouth, or is it just hot air?

maybe not

Sorry, but I think that it is you.


What a crock, Robert. Do you even understand what you are talking about, or are you simply mindlessly cheerleading like this is some football game? I dare you to try to rationally explain why this ruling makes “sense.”


Enough area has already been taken from the off-roaders which I am not, period.


So I ask you again, Robert, how does eliminating a previously agreed upon buffer zone “make sense”? Especially knowing that it is being eliminated because it had been violated long before people brought the issue to court. In other words, a violation has occurred but the violators are being allowed to continue violating–in fact ramping up the violation— simply because they weren’t caught earlier How does THAT make “sense”?

Kevin Rice

Your statements don’t make sense because your statements don’t reflect the actual facts. From what source can you show the “buffer zone” has been eliminated? From what source can you show any “violation” ever existed?


Slorrider, you have NO credibility in my book. I’ve heard you bald-faced lie in public too many times and take mean spirited vindictive actions against those who disagree with your fanaticism. There’s little point in trying to argue with an unapologetic, continual liar and propagandist who will seemingly stop at nothing to push forward his selfish interests without sympathy to those he harms.

Kevin Rice

Not looking for cred with Clubbers. They’re… well… they’re “unapologetic, continual liars and propagandists who will seemingly stop at nothing to push forward selfish interests without sympathy to those harmed”. I suppose we’re at impasse. Except two court rulings disagree with YOU.


No shit, Sherlock! If the court rulings were in agreement with me I wouldn’t be spending this effort voicing my opposition.

And since when have the courts been infallible?

I don’t judge what is right or wrong or what is best for the community on the basis of what a Judge tells me to believe.

Kevin Rice

You’re really quite an ambassador for The Club. Such persuasive prose will surely attract new like-minded members.