Appellate court rules against Oceano dunes dust rule

April 6, 2015


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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Clearly a win for the good guys.

But even when we win, we lose. APCD has to pay court costs — but where they gonna get the money ???


Easy, just pass a rule that all barbeques, campfires and fireplaces must pay a “fee” in order to operate. While we are at it require the cattle ranchers pay a “fee” for all the methane their cows put into the air!

Kevin Rice

Next thing ya know, APCD will be charging a pollution fee for dying.

Mike Byrd

Kevin, I suspect they may already do that. I assume crematoriums are required to pay APCD in order to operate.


They might require all Mexican food patrons to where fart monitors and get taxed on that.


Allen is a “big fish” guy, and can’t be bothered collecting pennies from end polluters. Perhaps he should go after the manufacturers of the contrivances that the beans are cooked in or on.

Kevin Rice

Are beans a “contrivance”? Is that a direct source or indirect?

Mike Byrd

SLO already has a law addressing that – their new odor ordinance.


Oops, “wear”. LOL!


I hope friends of the dunes gets every penny owed to them and it causes the APCD to be forced to sell some of their many vehicles and move to a smaller space, maybe even cut Herr Allen’s payroll.

Rich in MB

The Government Hacks will just plan their next round of attacks. See even then they lose, they just regroup and go at it again. They didn’t lose any of “their” money or time and they will be back.


Get real! The local hospital and staff make MILLION$ a year on injuries from the ATV’s and other sports. ALL of the businesses thrive in that area–and without it–it is likely Grover, Oceano and Pismo would be highly impacted. This is a tourist town. A few elite golfers can’t even touch this one.

Mike Byrd

The court taught these yahoos a lesson in basic English that they should have learned long before they were in positions of power. Simply knowing the meaning of a word (or at least how to use a dictionary) would have saved everyone a whole lot of money.


Smackdown for Greenies and Eco-Fascists.


Been waiting to say this for a long time, “Pound sand Nell!”


Just a word of caution California Coastal Commission…you may be next!


Wishful thinking, but I gave a thumbs up anyway.

Kevin Rice

The Court:

“District argues that the SVRA is a “contrivance” because it has gates, fences, walking paths, access roads, signage, parking lots, and restrooms. But these improvements to the dunes are not the cause of the emissions. They do not directly or indirectly cause emissions and without them, off-road recreational vehicles would still go to the park. We do not believe that a fence or sign designating the sand dunes as an off-road recreational area makes the SVRA a “contrivance” or a direct source of air pollution. If the rule was otherwise, District would have the authority to regulate the operation of any state park simply because the park has as a fence, gate, sign, or parking lot.”

“…We borrow from Justice Holmes. A word, the skin of a living thought, can be stretched only so far before a new color and content emerges. The “circumstances” in which the word “contrivance” is used in section 42300 subdivision (a) compel the conclusion that the Legislature did not contemplate that a “contrivance” would include a state park.”

* * *

It’s official. Oceano Dunes is NOT a “contrivance”. Rule 1001 is dead.


Sounds like Crandall’s not too far from the 43 judges in yesterday’s article.

Kevin Rice

No, I wouldn’t say that.

Mike Byrd

No, I believe the judge just got tied up in the arguments over the “science” and overlooked the obvious.

Rich in MB

Smack down to the Government hacks!

Freedom won one today folks, its a good day in America!


elected? Feel the love!

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