Grover Beach mayor opposes APCD dust rule

July 8, 2013
Debbie Peterson

Debbie Peterson


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.

Debbie Peterson’s petition

“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.”



Dust is just a cover for their real intention – running a couple of million tourists a year out of the south county. Why not just come right out and tell the truth? And while you’re truth telling explain why a single non-elected bureaucrat accountable to no one should have the sole power to close the dunes and shutter small businesses that rely on tourism for their income.


Lee, you are not seeing the big picture. The whole idea is to turn the Dunes into a Golf Resort with shopping and timeshare condos. The plan was introduced many years ago… and invested interests from outside the area are behind the scam with many attempts to derail the State from occupying the land. This is not about health issues…FACT! How is this fact you ask? Well, my family has lived in the most exposed point directly behind the lakes on the Mesa for years. Not one person has contacted us to see the possible health effects of years of exposure. Think about that. If I was going to prove health hazards, wouldn’t I contact those who have lived here the longest to prove my point… That we are dying from dust?…. unless, I already knew I had no real evidence…. So, what is the real reason those who dislike my opinion, have for closing the dunes? I’m tired of the smoke and mirrors.


I hope I will be able to paint a very clear picture for you to see how off this conversation is. After many years of research, I picked the windiest day ever at the Dunes…. (actually I just picked a windy day). I loaded my Honda ATV on my trailer and headed down past POLE 2. I had to open my door really carefully so it wouldn’t fly off the truck from the force of the wind. I noticed only a very few cars, further down the beach. It looked like the Dunes were all mine. I jump back in the truck to recollect my thoughts after getting wind blown for a few minutes. I place my gear on with goggles so I would be able to see. Blowing sand is everywhere! I carefully open the door again, run back to the ATV and unhook it. This was not an easy task. It feels like I am in a sandblasting machine. I take off into the Dunes to enjoy a good ride, alone. Well at least as far as I can see. The visibility is very low and hard to see from one hilltop to the next. I have a camera, but with so much sand blowing around, I didn’t want to mess it up. I never took any of my gear off at any point during the ride. When I returned, I had at least 2 lbs of sand in every part of my being. I sat in the car thinking, I am just a grain of sand compared to Mother Natures doings. In the big picture, not only do I know me driving out there made no difference as to how much sand was blowing, but if anything I was stopping it… or at least 2 lbs. of it.


I ask anyone to take a trip to the middle of the dunes on a windy day. Then tell me if ATV’s really make a difference.


I can tell you those 1000 RV’s on a busy weekend…. Stops the wind from blowing dust around! Fact!


How can you dislike the idea to see the truth with your own eyes?


What a great word picture!

Jorge Estrada

Stopping the blowing sand would be an enviromental disaster. Many inland creatures need the constant drifting sand to exist. Atleast off road vehicles help mitigate the slowing drifts due to the adverse affect housing has caused by impeding the natural wind flows.

The APCD can not stop the sand drifts and will never get a penny from any agency or private party for this. This expense of public money for their selfserving budget is going to get them in trouble.


This is the same Grover Beach that doesn’t think it has to submit its storm runoff info to the Water Quality Control Board? For years on end, even after being ordered to do so. Just a bunch of yokels down there — how do people this dumb ever get elected? Heads in the sand, for sure. Too much silica in the lungs, clogs the blood flow to the brain. Go get ’em Debbie!


The whole thing is completely bogus. Next time you are on the 101 Southbound by Shell Beach on a windy weekday (when there is hardly anyone at the dunes), look over toward the dunes and you will see a giant haze of sand blowing directly East. It’s called a natural occurrence!


you might look at as well. they are going after Ocotillo Wells SRVA


If a government agency can go after another government agency with stupidity like this, then I can only imagine how they would, or have, gone after an individual or private company. This is a government agency with the power to fine people as they see fit to fund their bogus little niche they carved out for themselves. What a deal…. Make up the rules, fix the study, line up the usual suspects and line your pockets.

Government Gone Wild, again.


Jorge Estrada

Vampire sucking the blood from another Vampire equals two hungry Vampires. There is no safety in this for us mortals.


“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”. license to steal

Ben Daho

The Wind has been blowing since the earth was formed. Tax dollars haven’t. I was watching the campers and Rv’s on the Gas station on Grand and 13th. if ALL they bought while they were here was gas, we might be able to fix the pot holes rather than spend all that money on slippery when wet pink cross walks and air testing. Flawed report? I’m sure someone will need to be paid to do a report on the legitimacy of a different report, THEN lawyers will need to read it, challenge each other, debate each other and then we’ll ask the citizens to decide and THAT will cause a ruckus because we’re not educated enough to decide our fate. Then we’ll be on Cal-span so everyone’s vanity can be applauded. and the entire time the wind will have ignored our panic and the crosswalks will still (probably stay pink until someone slips in the rain) and the funding for everything will go back to tearing out the slippery pink mess and then have smooth pavement so the bikers, scooters and skaters (that aren’t allowed anywhere else these days) can ride the roads in the town they love. Really? The shape of the roads and the issues with the OCSD and we’re hearing about dust? That really blows man.. Oh, I was outside gardening the other day and that Sun.. it was beating down on me something fierce.. Can you study that and see how we can rectify that while you’re at it. my BEST regards.