Grover Beach air board rift spills over to conference center project

December 30, 2013


Following the removal of Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson from a regional air pollution board, an organization that supports off-road activity on the Oceano Dunes is planning to appeal the construction of an 11,000 square foot conference center and lodge in Grover Beach.

On Dec. 16, the Grover Beach City Council voted to remove Peterson from the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Board of Directors after County Supervisor Adam Hill pressured council members to do so. In her one year on the APCD board, Peterson, to the dismay of Hill, frequently asked questions of district staff and campaigned for a repeal of the APCD’s dust rule.

If implemented, the dust rule would fine the California Department of Parks and Recreation $1,000 a day if it does not reduce the amount of dust blowing onto the Nipomo Mesa from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

Friends of Oceano Dunes (Friends), an organization that promotes open access to the dunes, supports Peterson and opposes the dust rule. On Dec. 18, Friends President Jim Suty authored a letter to the council criticizing its decision to remove Peterson from the air board and stating it may no longer cooperate with the city as it proceeds with the conference center project.

“Unfortunately, your recent vote to remove Mayor Peterson from the APCD raises great concern and, in fact, has convinced us that our interests will not be protected or even addressed,” Suty wrote.

In response to the letter, Peterson called for a special, pre-New Years meeting, which will take place Monday at 6:30 p.m. Supporters of Peterson are expected to petition the council to reseat her on the APCD board.

Last December, the council unanimously approved a coastal development permit for construction of the conference center and lodge near the entrance to the Oceano Dunes at Highway 1 and Grand Ave. The project gained approval from the California Coastal Commission in April. However, the commission denied requests to build an equestrian facility with beachside parking for horse trailers across the street.

In the Friends letter to the council, Suty said that the organization has had and continues to have concerns about the project. The letter also requested that the council reseat Peterson on the air board, but it did not state any action Friends might take if the council refuses to do so.

On Thursday, Suty told CalCoastNews that Friends of the Dunes would appeal the conference center project regardless of whether or not Peterson regains her seat on the air board.

“Friends of Oceano Dunes is going to appeal,” Suty said. “The project is going to be appealed whether or not she gets back on.”

Suty did not specify to which body the organization would submit the appeal.

Friends opposes the removal of the equestrian staging area from the project, as well as the removal of an RV dump station. Both will lead to increased congestion, Suty said. Additionally, project planners have not adequately mitigated expected delays in access to the dunes during construction, he said.

Friends previously took the APCD to court over the dust rule, arguing the district used flawed scientific practices and failed to prove off-road activity on the dunes has caused an increase in pollution on the Nipomo Mesa. San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall ruled against Friends’ claim in April.

Over the summer, Peterson petitioned residents and her fellow council member to support a repeal of the dust rule. The dust rule threatens the existence of the off-road riding area on the dunes because it requires state parks to maintain a permit from the APCD to operate the vehicle zone, Peterson said.

Dust rule proponents responded by calling for her removal from the board.

In August, the council voted 3-2 to keep her on the board. But, the council swung in opposition to Peterson during the Dec. 16 meeting in which Hill lobbied for her removal.

Shortly before the meeting, Hill placed gold medallions on each of the council members’ chairs. The medallions had Hill’s name and position on one side and the San Luis Obispo County Seal on the other.

During public comment, Hill reminded the council that Grover Beach receives county funds and instructed council members to call him if they needed financial assistance.

“If any of you have needs or things, feel free,” Hill said. “My office is always happy to provide community funds for the city or for any nonprofits that the city or you’re involved with.”

Later that night, the council replaced Peterson with Councilwoman Karen Bright, the city’s previous APCD board representative.


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So if the dunes are closed, who profits? To me this is the real question. The dust from the dunes will continue to blow as it has done for thousands of years.

Buried in Appendix C, page C-48 of the Oceano Dunes Dust Study was the smoking gun that PREVENTED the study from originally being used to close down the Oceano Dunes ORV Park, the original intention of the study by the SLO APCD.

Appendix C, page C-48, Paragraph 7 of the study states:

While the TEOM/DRUM comparisons showed poor comparability, the comparisons between DRUM samplers were very good, which ensures that relative comparisons between DRUM sampler data is valid. Conversely, DRUM data related to mass PM concentrations should not and were not intended to be compared to TEOM data or health standards.

Neither the SLO APCD nor the SLO Health Department ever cared the study is not supposed to be used for health standards because the data accuracy was unknown. Neither department has explained how they missed this. Everyone seems content to sweep the study under the rug and the SLO APCD, which has zero oversight, simply plowed forward with implementing a dust rule for which it has no scientific evidence to back up the purpose of the rule.

The study specifically states it is not to be used for determining health standards because the majority (8) of the air samplers used were not giving accurate readings. The Delta Group’s DRUM samplers did not work correctly and they could not know what the actual data readings were. Above, I have given you the exact page number of the study that explains this.

Everyone forgets this is why this new Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was supposedly formed – to make sure future dunes dust testing would be done by scientists approved by all sides, using scientific methods approved by all sides — the SLO APCD, the County of SLO, and the State Parks Department.

For whatever reason, this FACT that the Oceano Dunes Dust Study authors admitted the study was scientifically flawed and should not be used to compare to health standards was not brought up to Judge Crandell by those who sued to stop the APCD dust rule implementation. This was an incredibly stupid and costly oversight.

I am not sure which position is right on the APCD’s dust rule but I am certain that Adam Hill is a morally-bankrupt politician in terms of his political conduct. He is also so blatant in his actions that anyone observing should be able to recognize his character for what it is. I guess that he is either assuming that most Third District voters are not really paying attention or that they will support him on general issues despite his flaws. (Perhaps both?)

Do we really need/want big-city corruption and dirty politics in SLO County? Isn’t our local “Good-ol’-boy” network bad enough? Hill’s New Jersey roots are showing big time. I hope that he has an opponent during his next campaign that is sufficiently moderate as to be electable.

What’s your gut tell you if Adam is for the Dust Rule? What’s your gut tell you if Gibson continues to back Adam Hill’s buffoonery and the Dust Rule? Hill and Gibson do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

I really try hard to separate issues from personalities. Issues should be decided upon the facts — if one has the time and background to separate facts from BS. In the case of the APCD Dust Rule, I an somewhat skeptical of it but not knowledgeable enough to be certain. (I don’t like that they seem to have almost unlimited power to act without reasonable debate and consideration of their “facts.”)

As for the personalities involved, if I move back into District 3 before the next election (I hope to do so), I will not vote for Hill’s re-election. Whether I vote FOR an opponent will depend upon whether that opponent has reasonable positions and a more mature personality.

Just wait till the Ca Air resorces Board in Sac turns over the enforcement of diesel particulate matter over to the local apcd,all those useless people working there at 100,000 $ and more will be getting huge raises off the backs of hard working people in this county.

You want to talk about bad science carb is full of it.

The letter from the Friends of the Dunes clearly is a threat, and is clearly Quid Pro Quo; “put the Mayor back on the APCD Board or we oppose your project.”

Haven’t enough elected officials already been convicted and sent to jail over these business arrangement/power plays?

Let them appeal the project, it is their right.

Two issues, not connected…

Move on….quit having meetings that piss away taxpayer money to talk about posturing letters that can be responded to in writing…

“The project is going to be appealed whether or not she gets back on.”

What part of this quote contains the “or else” you falsely assert? It’s not there. No “or else”; no quid pro quo.

PLEASE CONTRAST WITH Adam Hill’s “wink-and-a-blackmail” actions:

Two separate issues, but still quite related. The first was the straw that triggered the other.

Made it to about pole 6 the other evening, sand blowing so hard I couldn’t see well yet I basically had the beach to myself. Only a few other vehicles were even out and about.

Fight the good fight Kevin, you’re appreciated!

Yes, their learning finally from Hill how to be grand A’holes who threaten,destroy families and act like their the king of idiotsville. Why is it, bar none, when the whiners get thrown in their faces what they constantly dish out they cry foul, unfair, threats, terrorism,bla,bla,bla. Pathetic, like your Emo boy hill.

Why would the Grover Beach City council vote to put Karen Bright back on the APCD board? When she was last on the APCD board, the Grover council knew the APCD’s dust rule was based on bad “science” and that it would impact the Grover economy. Accordingly, they instructed Bright, as the Grover representative, to vote against the APCD’s dust rule. But she disregarded their instruction and allowed the rule to be voted in. Why is Karen Bright now a good choice to represent Grover Beach? It doesn’t add up.

Perhaps they have re-evaluated the benefits of doing so in light of Hill’s thinly-veiled bribe of county-funded pork for the City of Grover Beach and almost-as-thinly-veiled threats if his wishes are ignored. That is the only obvious reason I can see for the sudden change in position by the GB City Council as a whole.

Today’s APCD will support the project that requires the most infrastructure dependency and promotes a consistant tax base. That’s right, the so called “Greenies” want more developement, they could care less about real science.

I hate dust, most people agree and that is why this area is the last to be developed. This dune buggy dust BS is a hoax. Dunes are large dust piles and to argue a way to have them sit still is laughable. It would make better sense to require the Surgeon General place a warning on all down wind residential title. A simple fact.

Uh, if the “Friends” group expects Grover Beach City Council to represent their interests, they are setting themselves up for major disappointment. If they think Grover Beach is the epicenter for APCD decisions, wrong again. If they think Grover beach is the right place to launch an appeal of the CCC-approved convention center, then they’re just wasting everybody’s time. I hope they will display more focus tonight than this article implies.

You’ve got it backwards. The disappointment is the cause of the appeal. Second, you’re absolutely incorrect on your epicenter belief. Gaining or losing just one city rep is everything. Larry Allen’s 1/4-million employment contract will be renewed in January and the votes are very tight. The dust rule passed with a single vote. Third, the conference center is a Grover project… OF COURSE an appeal starts in Grover.

If I’m wrong about the outcome, that’s ok. It’ll be good to see a bunch of well-prepared speakers tonight.

Well, outcome is another story, but public participation is still important. See you there! ;)