Coastal Commission wants to ban off-road vehicles from the Oceano Dunes

June 26, 2019

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The California Coastal Commission is considering settling the decades-long dispute over usage of the Oceano Dunes by the outright banning off-road vehicle riding on the South County beach.

On July 11, the Coastal Commission plans to discuss staff’s proposal at a meeting in San Luis Obispo. Coastal Commission staff has determined off-highway vehicle (OHV) use at the Oceano Dunes is untenable in the long-term, and the state park must transition to usages that are less intensive, according to a recently released report.

“The bottom line in staff’s view is that the park and coastal development permit cannot continue to operate as it has in the past,” the report says. “Put simply, in staff’s view a park that is fully consistent with on-the-ground realities, and with coastal resource protection requirements, does not include OHV use.”

The report cites a variety of environmental, as well as “tribal concerns,” as justification for removing vehicles from the beach.

In the short-term, there could be immediate reductions in the amount of off-road vehicle use and camping at the Oceano Dunes. Coastal Commission staff is recommending commissioners amend the Oceano Dunes operating permit to ban night riding, fence off more area, reduce the amount of RVs by 30 percent and implement other measures aimed at eventually eliminating off-road vehicle traffic on the dunes.

The Coastal Commission staff is supportive of continuing to allow reduced street-legal vehicle camping on a portion of the dunes.

“Street-legal vehicle camping on a limited portion of the beach may be able to provide a unique, lower-cost, overnight coastal camping opportunity that ties into the history of the park and continues its rich camping tradition, but with a significantly reduced impact on sensitive coastal resources and surrounding communities,” the report says.

Friends of Oceano Dunes, which has battled in and out of court to keep the park accessible to off-road vehicles, is vowing to fight the Coastal Commission’s plan.

“The Coastal Commission is about to ruin your holidays at the Oceano Dunes. Summer vacations will be taking a big hit too!” Friends of Oceano Dunes stated in a Facebook post.

In a video accompanying the Facebook post, Friends of Oceano Dunes President Jim Suty called on members of the organization to attend the July 11 meeting and speak out against the move toward banning vehicles from the park.

“It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and fight,”  Suty said. “It’s death by a thousand fence posts, and we’re going to lose the park over time unless something drastically changes.”

In addition, business stakeholders formed a group to address the economic impact of the Coastal Commission’s plan and to advocate for continued use of the off-road vehicle park, according to a statement from the South County Chambers of Commerce.

An economic impact report completed last year by a consulting firm found that, between July 2016 and Sept. 2017, the Oceano Dunes park area generated a total of $243 million for the San Luis Obispo County economy. The study, conducted by South Lake Tahoe-based SMG Consulting, found most visitors to the Oceano Dunes area travel from outside of SLO County. These visitors spent an estimated $158 million directly on travel expenditures, with the visits generating a total of 3,300 jobs.


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SLOpoker

Let’s ban all motorized vehicles from California period. Bicycles are fine, skateboards OK (with helmet), horses are good as long as you pick up after them. Instead of flying here, there will be sailboats from the East Coast. Only takes 6 months around the Horn.


obispan

Bring your tent, bring your beer and BBQ, drive your car/camper/RV on the beach. End the ORV madness. The revenue can still be there. Maybe AUTHORIZED music events WITHOUT guns?


takealookaround

The part no one sees is that this money does not all stay here it supports around 12 parks according to state parks. If you shut this you can say goodbye to a bunch of parks.someone needs to provide checks and balances for the crooked out of control coastal commission


Boldguy

The Coastal Act was passed by the Voters of California to preserve and protect the Coast from the Developers and rich nimby’s so that the average Joe could enjoy the beach instead of looking at it through the gates of a locked gate community, own a mansion or have to stay at a mega hotel for their private beach access!

Now the Coastal Commission has become the biggest nimby on the block, a board full elitists placing rules and regulations that benefit their own view of Coastal use of fellow nimby’s:(

Yes the unwashed Masses coming to the Coast to have fun and get away from the heat with their families, camping, bbqing, and riding around on loud vehicles in the dunes, something that’s been going on for close to a hundred years!!!

The warm welcoming place that I grew up in is fading fast, no wonder so many middle class families and average Joe’s are leaving the State, leaving only the very rich and very poor, and of course the Coastal Commission:(


obispan

“A hundred years”? No, I’m not that old. But old enough to remember when that section of beach was a beach for swimming, picnics, surfing and fishing in the 80’s, before the redneck rodeo and “Huckfest”. ORV use precludes all other uses, period. This is why Pismo Beach banned it 40 years ago. I would be fine with street legal vehicle access for camping so as to facilitate enjoyment by our fellow citizens in the valley.


Russ J

I know it brings tons of pleasure to so many people but just image walking the entire beach from Shell to Muscle Rock without the noise and smell of engines. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing? It could be the Sierra of the central coast? Every time I hike through the dunes and no matter where I start from, I run into this big Island of really loud motors and speeding steel. I hope we can work something out.


Jorge Estrada

The truth is that the coast is unhealthy because of the mold that grows indoors because of moisture and then there is the dust. This is natural occurring and that is why we have sandy beaches thence sand dunes. The real issue will be when people get wise and file claims because of the adverse health liability which were not disclosed at the time of purchase. Sorry can’t have it both ways, the disclosures will come as a result of these reports for public knowledge. After that becomes the norm the next generation will pave over the sand and build for better health reasons, just like already done to the north and south of SLO County. So get rid of those buggies first so we can have more development. Sad but true..


sweethome

I’m amazed that people were dumb enough to build/buy homes down wind from the dunes. It’ll be interesting if the dunes are ever shut down entirely. They will continue to be blasted by dust even when there are no vehicles on the dunes. Now who will they blame? Will they outlaw the wind? This county has been ruined by the Anti-Fun lobby.