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

June 26, 2019


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.


Make all of them pass smog and clean air just like any other vehicle. If you play you gotta pay. Also put in a service station and no vehicle leaves until the tank is full.


Welcome to the “New Progressive State of California” reality.


“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.

So lets play the devils advocate here. What percent of locals actually camp or use the dunes as a multi day vacation spot? I’ll bet less than 5% annually. I can understand the desire by many to keep the dunes open but there is always Glamis and Dumont dunes. Look, Californians have been banned from cigarette smoking, vaping, farting cows, calling each other nasty names cause its a hate crime,you have to offer up your first born to buy ammo anymore,bla,bla, so what the hell makes users thing its OK to run over birds, speed on a public beach..drunk in way to many cases, litter like your at a 99% er gathering, generally raise hell in public, run over each other, God forbid you risk your own life having fun on a $30K toy? and oh yeah, lets not forget those helmet laws designed to save us from ourselves cause were incapable of such a task.

Ah…but sheeeeet….There is $$$$$ big dollars $$$$ at stake here. So who’s balls shine brighter folks, the all controlling coastal commission or the Local Rust outlaws.


I have a compromise arrangement I’d like to float here:

don’t shut down the dunes! Just raise fees and require permits and special licenses for a limited number of campers. Make it so only the rich can afford to play there.

Also, create a department….perhaps a sub-department of State Parks, or Fish and Game….and task that department with driving all over the dunes in ATV’s in order to check people’s paperwork, test bodily fluids and breath and see if there are any violations or other means of getting people to pay more to play on the dunes.

This is a win/win/win type of thing. Local government wins. The environment wins. People who don’t like the idea of other people having fun on the dunes win.

Most of all, local business wins. Because if they shut down the dunes all the way, tax revenue would drop necessitating raised taxes on local business in order to keep the money flowing into local government.

By forcing the rich to pay more, and only allowing those who can afford to pay access to the dunes, local businesses won’t have to pay that much more in taxes! Yay!

Now it’s a quadruple winner of an idea!

coronet blue

Petro-recreation is an unhealthy relic of the 1960s which should have been buried decades ago. Camping on the beach is wonderful and should continue if it is shown to be harmless. I am skeptical of the benefit to the county that is stated in this story, but regardless, making a living by defiling the planet is indefensible. The human population level has reached the tipping point so expect more things from the “good old days” to disappear.


To be fair Perto Recreation must include airplanes, cruise ships, our vehicles, atv’s side by sides, and any other form of fossil fuel burning device used to take us places of non work related enjoyment correct? How about a government run electric bus service designed to take travelers to their destinations and drop them off. Far more flexible than any single directional bullet train. This could be part of the Ca/OAC green deal yes?


It doesn’t matter what the problem is….big or small, there is always a simple 3 part answer for any and all problems:

1. government and only government can “fix” it

2. Raise taxes, fines, fees, licenses.

3. Restrict freedom.

all problems are solved in this manner. Take the Oceano Dunes for example:

Government will shut them down. People will be restricted from visiting the dunes, riding motorcycles, off-road vehicles, etc. The local economy will suffer, which means local government will suffer, which means taxes, fees, fines etc. will be raised.

Problem solved! Easy! Now everyone is happy….except folks who wanted to use the dunes.


Well said.


While I certainly don’t advocate totally closing down the dunes, I wonder if DocT has considered the “freedom” of residents in Nipomo who are impacted by bad air quality more than three months out of the year because of dust kicked up by off-road vehicles. Locals have even come to calling their various maladies, “Nipomo Cough.” I guess they should just move if they don’t like it?

No, there has to be compromise and I suspect there will be with fewer campsites available and a limit on vehicles. Right now, it’s the Wild West out there with two or three deaths every year.

Rich in MB

Ban the off road vehicles and it won’t improve air quality…thats the Big Lie.

nazbol gang

Open a dispensary on the dunes


I wonder what the economic toll in regard to deaths, lawsuits, environmental damage etc annual accrual financially is compared to money generated states. That’s alot of cash for a state park to generate annual and for the 5 cities; including many jobs I’d think too. Human life stated NPR in america is valued at 3 million plus if I recall, in regard to lawsuites.

Rich in MB

We don’t need them Valley Folks dragging all their CO2 spewing Off road vehicles to our Central Coast…let them move out of California like everyone else that’s a tax payer. And those millions in Tax revenue and Jobs, hey…if we love the Green New Deal, then we should love shutting down the Dunes. If you want to talk the talk…it’s time to watch the dollars and Jobs walk the walk right out of town.


Love the sarcasm, you nailed it.

A lot of old timers have moved to the desert out of state, abandoned California, in part because of this taking “Green” to stupid tyrannical, and I may say hysterical extremes. Those old timers have it backwards … it’s the Greenies who should be having to flee to the desert.

See those cliffs along the north end of Pismo? Guess what? SEA LEVELS WILL BE THAT HIGH AGAIN SOMEDAY WHETHER WE ARE HERE OR NOT.

And does anybody have any idea how many land yachts that stalled below mean tide line since cars were invented, have rusted to pulp beneath the sand of Pismo? My guess would be in the thousands. That beach and its dunes are just fine, thank you very much. I USED to be able to walk anywhere I wanted on them down Guadalupe way. Now you see pistol-packin’ fish n gamers to let me know just who’s boss.

It’s OUR park, operated by OUR servant. So why is the servant the master?

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