Grover Beach mayor opposes APCD dust rule
July 8, 2013
By KAREN VELIE
Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson is circulating a petition seeking to repeal the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District’s Oceano Dunes dust rule.
The dust rule requires the California Department of Parks to reduce the amount of particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes to the Nipomo Mesa or pay fines of $1,000 a day to the APCD.
The APCD is an unusual form of government in that it primarily subsists on fees and fines that its board has the power to create.
In her petition, Peterson questions the rationale of one state agency utilizing a scientifically flawed study to fine another state agency.
The Friends of Oceano Dunes, local activist Kevin Rice and California Attorney General Kamala Harris have also argued that the APCD used flawed scientific practices and failed to prove that off-road vehicle activity on the dunes has caused an increase in pollution on the Nipomo Mesa. In April, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall’s ruled against several suits aimed at repealing the APCD’s dust rule.
A month later, San Francisco attorney Thomas Roth filed an appeal on behalf of Friends of Oceano Dunes over Crandall’s ruling that the APCD has the authority to regulate off-road vehicle activity on the Oceano Dunes.
“As part of the dune creation process on high wind days dust blows onto the Nipomo Mesa from the beach. The San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District (SLO APCD) has tasked the landowner of the dunes, California State Parks’ Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA), with the job of determining and implementing the best way to mitigate the blowing sand.
“SLO APCD is doing so on the premise that their Phase II Study indicates that vehicles on the beach are causing the dust to blow onto the Mesa.
“The California Geological Survey, and other technical experts, including environmental and air quality professionals, extensively reviewed the Phase II Study and its appendices. From these reviews, as well as from subsequent analyses of available and acquired data, it was determined that the Phase II conclusion attributing elevated concentrations of particulate matter on the Mesa to off highway vehicle recreation at Oceano Dunes SVRA was not supported by the data presented in the Phase II document.
“The SLO APCD has created a rule (the dust rule) that fines State Parks $1,000 a day when the wind blows up excessive dust, $920 a year for a permit to operate, $4,080 a year to monitor each air monitor (22 have been installed) and $40,160 a year for an existing APCD monitor. The purpose of these charges is to fund the SLO APCD for monitoring the work of the ODSVRA.
If approved, the power to revoke the permit for vehicles on the beach lies solely in the hands of one individual, the SLO Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO). No other institution, including the APCD board has authority over the control officer’s decision to revoke the permit.
“No other Air Pollution Control District in California has a State Vehicle Recreation Area that is required to have APCD permits or is fined for the wind blowing or for monitoring, even though most other areas have worse air quality and larger SVRA acreage. The dust rule is not in keeping with standard practice.
“The net result is that one state agency is requiring another to carry out and fund work and mitigation and then charging them again to monitor their work and then fining them if they don’t get the desired result.
“Taxpayers are funding two state agencies and their lawyers, paying two to three times for the same work. These funds would be far better spent to actually research and solve the problem.
“What sense does it make to 1) Require that State Parks pay for and carry out the necessary research to mitigate the dust; 2) Require that State Parks pay for the necessary equipment, 3) Then fine them when the wind blows and 4) Charge them for the APCD to monitor their work when State Parks are WILLING and the MOST ABLE agency to actually address the problem and then 5) Charge them for a permit to operate their Park which is already permitted by the legislature?
“The majority of the board members who imposed the dust rule never even took a tour of the area before voting.
“Several members of the APCD Board promised to look at alternate points of view following the Phase II study and never did so.
“For these reasons, those signing below request that the APCD board repeal the dust rule.”