Appellate court rules against Oceano dunes dust rule
April 6, 2015
By KAREN VELIE
After three years of litigation challenging the Oceano Dunes “dust rule,” the 2nd Appellate Court in Ventura ruled Monday that the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) does not have the power to regulate air emissions at state parks through the permit process.
The dust rule requires the California Department of Parks and Recreation to reduce the particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area or face fines of $1,000 per day. The rule is based on a study that concludes off-road vehicle activity on the dunes has caused an increase in particulate matter blowing to the Nipomo Mesa.
In 2012, Friends of Oceano Dunes filed a suit against the APCD saying it used flawed scientific practices in its report and that it failed to prove that off-road vehicle activity has caused an increase in pollution on the Nipomo Mesa.
In 2013, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall ruled against Friends of Oceano Dunes. Crandall found that “a managed recreational facility is reasonably viewed as ‘a contrivance’ devised by man — i.e., — not something that occurs naturally, which causes the emissions of airborne particulate matter (sand and dust) from the dunes.”
The appellate court turned Crandall’s ruling on the meaning of the word contrivance.
“Neither the trial court nor an appellate court is at liberty to pick a dictionary definition to reach a desired result,” the appellate court ruling says. “Thus, the trial court erroneously ruled that a local air pollution control district has the power to regulate air emissions emanating from a state park by a permit requirement.”
In addition, the appellate court awarded Friends of the Oceano Dunes costs.
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