Friends of Oceano Dunes awarded $378,273

June 29, 2016

Oceano Dunes 4


The court awarded Friends of the Oceano Dunes $378,273 on Wednesday for attorney’s fees and court costs for litigation the group filed objecting to the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control Board’s (APCD) dust rule.

Of the $378,273 award, the APCD is required to pay $358,278. The State of California and the APCD are jointly liable for the remaining $19,995.

The APCD and San Luis Obispo County have faced several lawsuits pertaining to the dust rule and regulation of the Oceano Dunes off-road riding area. The APCD has incurred costs of more than $1.4 million fighting the lawsuits.

“I am extremely pleased by the ruling,” said Jim Suty, Friends of the Oceano Dunes president. “This prevents the APCD from requiring State Parks to have a permit to operate the Oceano Dunes which would have allowed them to potentially close the park at their discretion.”

In 2012, the off-roading organization sued the APCD, arguing the agency used flawed scientific practices in implementing the dust rule and failed to prove off-road activity caused an increase in pollution on the Nipomo Mesa. Friends also questioned the legality of the APCD regulating air emissions at a state park through the permit process.

The dust rule requires state parks to reduce the particulate matter blowing from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area or face fines of $1,000 per day.

Last year, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that an air pollution control district does not have the power to regulate emissions from a state park by a permit requirement. The ruling nullified a section of the dust rule that required state parks to obtain a permit from the air district in order to operate the riding area.

In March, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall ruled the removal of the permit requirement does not void the entire dust rule and the APCD retains the power to enforce the regulation through civil penalties and other coercive action.

“It matters not that this court may have disagreed with the appellate court’s findings, or that the district acted in good faith in promulgating Rule 1001, or that the district believed it was operating within its powers,” Crandall wrote in his ruling. “The action resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public’s interest. “

In April, Friends filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission over the agency’s role in implementing the controversial regulation. The lawsuit also names state parks as a co-defendant and the APCD as a party of interest.


Reality Check

Larry Allen has used smoke and mirrors on the APCD Board. Only a few courageous members of that board stood up to challenge him. Debbie Peterson and Ed Waage being two of the most vocal. They could only do so much to stem the nonsense spouted by Gibson and etc. The board has not held Allen accountable. Some because they agree with or direct his actions. The others didn’t have the votes to call Allen to account. Now is the time for the Board to take a critical look at Allen’s biased and ineffective management and not renew his contract. He won’t get that huge severance, if the contract is just not renewed.

Now is the time to elect conscientious officials to office who care more about the public that they serve than their own ideology. We need elected officials who will curb the excesses and follies of staff and de-fang elected people as Adam Hill, Bruce Gibson and Jan Marx.

Take a look at Dan Carpenter, John Peschong, voting for them will gain some common sense on the Board of Supervisors to back up Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton. Every member of the Board of Supervisors is a member of APCD. Not to mention all the other boards and commissions that make decisions that effect all of the residents and often those boards and commissions that boldly raise taxes and fees and worse they are insidiously taking away personal and property rights from all of us.

Elections have consequences. Only we, the voters, can make the necessary changes at the ballot box.


Go ahead everyone, vote for that 1/2 cent sales tax for roads. Read the damn report, at best, 25% is going for actual roads. All these cities are supporting it because they get more money after we gave them 1/2 cent already. Give me, give me, give me, never enough because we have to keep paying for stupid!


Congratulations Friends of Oceano Dunes and Jim Suty. When State Parks should have found a pair and fought this Bruce Gibson absurdity (it was his idea from the start), Friends and Suty did the heavy lifting, fighting through a very biased local Crandall court to prevail at the California Court of Appeals. Thank you Friends and Jim Suty. And may all from the county to Sacramento be wary of anything put forth by Bruce Gibson. He only causes strife and costs the public money.

Mr. Holly

Larry Allen will probably be rewarded for his efforts even though he failed. And then he will be terminated and pick up his huge severance pay and move on to another dunes to create another boondoggle for the tax payers to finance.

Mr. Holly

I wonder if this cost is something that might be covered by the new anticipated SLOCOG 1/2 cent tax increase.

WE are constantly told that there is no money although there seems to be aproblem paying off these people like the city manager of Arroyo Grande.

Wake up people, be pro active not reactive. It;’s time for some major changes come this November.

Rich in MB

The APCD won’t give up…

Government and the Elites never do…

The fight will continue


Great job by Allen and the other idiots who voted for litigation. You wasted OUR money you stupid morons. Time for all of them to get sued by the taxpayers to pay for their stupid mistake.


Money like this for attorney fees just shows what a bunch of ripoff artists lawyers are. Why are they worth $500 per hour?

Kevin Rice

Five years ago…

When asked where he sees the process ultimately heading, Rice replied, “Court.”

“And how will that provide a benefit for residents of the mesa or for taxpayers?” Rice added.

(Way to waste taxpayer money, Adam Hill, Larry Allen, Bruce Gibson, Jan Marx, Noah Smukler, John Hamon, Karen Bright, Ray Biering, et al.)

Kaiser Bill

“(Way to waste taxpayer money, Adam Hill, Larry Allen, Bruce Gibson, Jan Marx, Noah Smukler, John Hamon, Karen Bright, Ray Biering, et al.)”

Have any of these people ever had a real job?

Adam Hill was a Lecturer in English at Cal Poly. He used his writing skills to send out a family decrying attacks on his family, beginning with “Me and my family.”

Jan Marx is a busybody gadfly.

Noah Smukler is a trustfund baby with an inheritance who is living out his environmentalist fantasies and leaving the people of Morro Bay holding the bag.


“the APCD is required to pay $358,278” and this should come out of Larry Allen’s personal account without any reimbursement from the taxpayers.

Kevin Rice

I reluctantly disagree. Elections have consequences. If taxpayers don’t like it, they should elect someone else. The taxpayers should pay for what they wrought—Hill, Gibson, Marx, Smukler, Hamon, Bright, Teixeira all voted for litigation. Debbie Peterson courageously opposed and was excoriated by Hill and the Tribune for doing so. Pay up, taxpayers. Get involved in elections this year. We can fire Adam Hill in November if we work diligently together to overcome all the mega-developer and big oil money contributions he has taken.


While the idea of “you get what you pay for” does apply, I believe most people who elect or re-elect the degenerates in office pay nearly nothing in taxes. We are almost at the point where the bulk of voters pay very little-to-NO taxes… Cakes and Circuses, my friend…

(2015 is projected to have ≅45.3% of people filing 1040’s to get it all back, i.e. pay 0% in Fed taxes, or worse, pay a negative amount – that is, get MORE back than was withheld). Thankfully, California stops the “programs” at 0%.