Oceano Dunes dust suit can go to trial

March 5, 2015

dunesA group of Nipomo Mesa residents upset over air pollution have brought forward a lawsuit against the state and county that is worthy of trial, a local judge has ruled.

The Mesa Community Alliance is suing California State Parks and San Luis Obispo County, alleging that they have not done enough to curb dust blowing onto the mesa from the Oceano Dunes off-road riding area. San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman found that Mesa alliance raised a credible argument, according to a news release issued by the group.

In 2011, the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District adopted the dust rule, which required state parks to reduce the amount of particulate matter blowing from the dunes to the Nipomo Mesa or face $1,000 daily fines. The regulation prompted California Attorney General Kamala Harris to sue the air district on behalf of state parks, but the two sides eventually reached a settlement outside of court.

State Parks has since spent $1 million on efforts to reduce dust blowing onto the Mesa. The project included creating fencing and wind barriers at the dunes.

Mesa Community Alliance contends that the residents it represents are still suffering from respiratory problem and other ailments, including heart disease.

But, critics of the APCD say that regulating activity on the dunes does not make a difference on the level of pollution at the Nipomo Mesa. Opponents of the dust rule, including APCD board member Ed Waage, argue that the air district conducted a scientifically flawed study that incorrectly linked off-roading to pollution on the Mesa.

Many APCD critics also suggest that the intention of regulating activity at the dunes was not to protect residents from dust, but rather to increase revenue for the air district. Most of the employees of the air district receive more than $100,000 in total pay, and about 75 percent of the agency’s budget goes to salaries and benefits.

The Mesa alliance case is expected to return to court on March 30.


I can dust all day long and there will still be a fine sand dust on my tables a day later. If you don’t like sand…..MOVE!


and I live on the north coast…no buggy’s here.


Pave it all. Problem solved. Next question please.

Kevin Rice

EXACTLY. No one complains about all the snowy plover habitat that has been paved over where their house is sitting on it. No one complains about nature being destroyed where there is pavement. But if we use an area that is not paved it’s complete sacrilege. If the thousands of homes at La Grande tract had been built, then those residents would be complaining about what’s next to them, but not about themselves or the paved over dunes.

Jorge Estrada

Dune buggys or not there will be blowing dust, so beware. This litigation will certainly bring a need for the natural dust disclosure to be listed on every property down wind. That be known is the right thing to do. Fiscal impacts, large. Remedies, none.

Kevin Rice

According to APCD, not one single person in Nipomo is affected by PM10 exceedances measured at CDF air monitoring site.


Despite, APCD continues to tell every person in Nipomo they are in the CDF forecast area.


You have a talent for nullifying your own arguments. One moment you’re citing APCD warnings of excessive dust, the next you’re citing them for saying there’s no hazard. Get your story straight, Pilgrim.

Kevin Rice

That’s incorrect. I cite APCD above for using the CDF monitor readings to provide forecasts to Nipomo (93444 zip code), when APCD’s own map shows no one in 93444 actually lives in the CDF zone.

I have also cited APCD for saying there is no significant health impact to Cypress Ridge residents (allowing 19 new units to be constructed—by a developer that greased Adam Hill and Caren Ray). But, at the same time, APCD is saying there is a significant health impact!

I believe it is APCD that needs to come up with a straight, honest, consistent story. Do you have further?

Kevin Rice

Nipomo Mesa deforested. Construction of Woodlands/Trilogy homes and occupation of those homes creates a significant adverse impact on PM10 air quality affecting occupants.


Kevin Rice

Oceano Dunes: Vegetation is unnatural. Blowing sand is natural.


Rich in MB

wow…those outfits!


…and the hair.


The Mesa residents should replant all the eucalyptus trees that were cut down to make way for their homes.

Those trees were there for a reason, to block the wind.

How does anyone live downwind from a beach and NOT expect the sand to blow?

The wind is always going to blow- -we live on the coast!

Blaming the State Park is ridiculous.


The eucs were planted to provide timber for railroad ties, not to block the wind. There are probably better tree choices for stopping wind-blown sand, but the best option is to choose to not live downwind of a health nuisance.

Kevin Rice

Well, they did a fine job blocking natural dist. APCD wrote in 1998 that construction of homes on the Mesa would exacerbate dust problems and expose residents to dust.. The county shouldn’t have build homes there in the first place, and APCD should stop lying that it’s a man-caused situation. Man planted thousands of acres of trees and grasses to control naturally blowing sand decades ago. It’s a natural situation. Don’t try to suddenly make it out as recreation when the dunes and and existed for thousands of years.


Show me the proof that tthe eucs were planted to control dust. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist.

Kevin Rice

I never asserted such; only that it is well-recognized they did a fine job. However, I do have proof thousands of acres of invasive grasses were planted to control dust.

Kevin Rice

Plenty of proof exists that Eucs were utilized to block wind. And that massive sand blew without vehicle recreation.

“But in the earlier times, before many trees were planted, the wind blew as only wind can blow in large open space, and drifted the sand over everything. Not even a geranium could live without protection,” wrote Mrs. T.A. Allot of Santa Maria in 1912.

Kevin Rice

Furthermore, the 1998 Woodlands EIR mandates a 100 foot wide perimeter of Euc to be left in place…. TO BLOCK WIND AND DUST. That perimeter is sorely lacking its mandated width in most places.


As if there hadn’t been decades of OHV use in those dunes by 1998 to cause the APCD to make that claim! Nice try, Kevin.

Kevin Rice

Whoa there, partner! What claim? The Woodlands EIR states in APCD’s own words that the development would exacerbate dust.

If you misread that I claim it’s the sole source, that is your mistake. Quit twisting my words. Nature continues to be the predominant and OBVIOUS source.


Having been in design & construction my entire adult life, I can understand why the APCD would say that construction causes a dust hazard, especially in fine soils as in Nipomo. Did they say it would be a permanent vector for dust? I doubt it. After occupancy & landscaping, the issue disappears.

disclosure: I was jerking your chain with that comment.

Kevin Rice

Yes. The 1998 EIR written by APCD states the ongoing use of the development would exacerbate air pollution exceedances. I’d be happy to share the document with you. Nearly one quarter million vehicle miles traveled—traffic pollution.—is the main source after construction, but there are hundreds of units left to build, and they are not remotely complying with construction dust control mandates. Grading, uncovered lots, lack of required vegetation, lack of watering, lack of monitoring, are all non-compliant with the permit requirements.


The only way to prove that the OHV use doesn’t contribute to the dust issue is to shut down the park for a year. Are you willing to support that? It will give you the proof you need, if anything will, and may just support your argument. But no, you’re never going to accept any restriction on OHVs, even if it eventually means the park gets shut down for good.

Kevin Rice

Is support a land swap. Put recreation south of Oso Flaco and close the present area. You’ll get your proof and vehicles won’t be upwind of anybody any more.


But, no, you’re never going to accept anything that might make room for vehicle recreation. Right?



I’m a political commentator, I don’t have a dog in this fight. The more that people tear up the dunes with their toys, and the more that locals become upset about it, the easier my job becomes. So yeah, whatever you want to push for, I say go for it. I don’t need acceptance, nor do you need mine.

Kevin Rice

In your commentary, perhaps you can artfully describe how one tears up sand. Rain, sun, water and wind tore up rock. Sand remains. I’ll give you a hammer and you demonstrate destroying it.

Rich in MB

I live next to a giant pile of sand blown there by the wind…but I want to Sue when it blows into my yard.

Are these people smoking crack?

Of course all the APCD cares about is operating budget money…hello…water is wet and fire will burn.

What don’t people understand about how Government works?

The goal here is to shut down the dunes from those evil Bakersfield hicks that come over here with the ATVs.

We all know and understand this.